The FEI has introduced a new showjumping series in North America, with the star-studded launch of a new Longines-sponsored league in Miami on Tuesday.
Billed as “East meets West”, three big names from the sport launched the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League at SPORTELAmerica, the annual sports media industry convention in the USA.
The launch was led by Beezie Madden, the most decorated US female equestrian athlete of all time and currently the only woman in the top 10 of the Longines world rider rankings. She was joined by American Gold Cup winner and FEI Solidarity Ambassador Jessica Springsteen, and Hannah Selleck, team and individual gold medallist at young rider level and one of the sport’s promising stars.
The trio, who all started riding almost as soon as they could walk, are already gearing up for the new league, which kicks off in August 2015 across seven East and seven West Coast venues in three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The league boasts a minimum of $US2.4 million prize money across the series, and offers riders the chance to qualify for the jackpot of more than $US1.4 million (€1.3 million) on offer annually at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.
A total of 14 athletes from the new North American league will qualify for next year’s prestigious Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 23-28, 2016.
The top seven athletes from the East Coast US, top three from West Coast US, and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico, will qualify for next year’s Final, alongside winners of 15 leagues around the world.
The 14 events that will host legs of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping NorthAmerican League were selected after a rigorous screening process from a long-list of 25 applicants. Impressively, 11 of the events featured in the recently published North American Riders Group Top 25 rankings.
The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League will be showcased on a broad range of global platforms, from live TV broadcasts to streaming on digital outlets and mobile, focusing on the drama of equestrian sport with fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary-style coverage.
FEI 1st Vice-President and FEI Jumping Committee chairman John Madden said the new league was a massive boost to the sport and would dominate the headlines in 2015.
“The new league is a huge opportunity for our athletes to shine on a North American stage and showcase top-level equestrian sport to fans across North America and the world.
“This league is also ideally suited to wide-ranging global brands that want to reach out toNorth American and international audiences, drawing very clear affinities with their own visions and values alongside Longines.”
To celebrate the launch of the new league, the coveted Longines FEI World Cup Jumping trophy will be showcased at Morays Jewelers boutique in Miami, before being transported to Las Vegas for this year’s Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. The world’s best riders, including many of those that will go on to contest the new season North American League, will be bidding to be crowned the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping champion in Vegas, from April 15 to 19.
Longines, the FEI’s Official Top Partner, Timekeeper and Watch of the FEI, is a major supporter of the Olympic sport of Jumping around the world, and is already title partner of the Western European League and China jumping leagues.
The company will also provide a dedicated timekeeping team and data handling service for each of the 14 legs.
The Swiss watchmaker’s timing heritage in the United States goes back to the 1870s, and by 1886 the company’s popular chronograph engraved with a jockey and his mount was being used by most sport judges in New York.
Elizabeth (Beezie) Madden is the most decorated US female equestrian athlete of all time and was the first female Jumping rider to earn over US $1 million in prize money. The three-time Olympian’s long list of accolades includes two Olympic team gold and an individual bronze medal, team and individual silver (2006) and team and individual bronze (2014) at the FEI World Equestrian Games, and two team gold and an individual silver at the Pan-American Games. The four-time winner of the USEF Equestrian of the Year title and 2013 Rolex FEI World Cup champion, last year became the first woman to win the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead (GBR) shortly after returning six weeks on the sidelines with a broken collarbone.
Longines’ motto is ‘elegance is an attitude.’ It’s true of their core business but it also rings true for equestrian sport. Our sport is about elegance and the harmony we achieve with our horses is essential to success. Longines is the perfect partner for equestrian sport.”
Actor Tom Selleck’s daughter, Hannah Selleck has her sights set firmly on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She began riding at the age of four and achieved great success during her years as a Young Rider. She had a standout year in 2008, winning team and individual gold at the NorthAmerican Young Riders Championship and the United States Equestrian Federation Talent Search Finals West. In 2013, Selleck was third in the Showpark Summer Festival Grand Prix with the mare Barla. In 2014, the pair cruised to a fifth-place finish in the Amalaya Investments Trophy class at the Longines Los Angeles Masters. Olympians Will Simpson, Leslie Burr Howard, and Ian Millar have all supplemented her training over the years.
Horses are a great leveler. As riders we know that you can be winning one day, and on the ground the next. Riders can have very long careers which last for many years. Some of the more mature riders are old enough to be my father, but I quite like the one I’ve got!”
Jessica Springsteen may have one of the most iconic surnames in the international rock music scene, but the accolades and titles she has earned in the show ring are all her own. Spurred on by her parent’s passion for horses, the Duke University graduate won multiple national titles in her junior and young rider career, and has continued to excel in the senior ranks of the sport. The FEI Solidarity Ambassador, who trains with Olympic gold medallists Laura Kraut (USA) and Nick Skelton (GBR), enjoyed a banner year in 2014. She was a member of the winning US team in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Dublin, won the American Gold Cup at the New York venue in North Salem, and was one of 10 riders to be long-listed for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy with Vindicat W. She was also declared leading rider at the Washington International Horse Show in October. This season she has already notched up eight top-10 finishes with her string of horses, headlined by Vindicat W, Lisona, and Davendy S.
We are part of an exceptional sport because we get to rely on a very special partner: the horse. Our horses are so much more than an animal. They are hard-working talented athletes with their own personalities. It’s an awesome sport and I’m so excited to share my passion for it with you today.”
Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League calendar
Bromont, QC (CAN) – International Bromont
New York, North Salem (USA)
Washington, DC (USA) – Washington International Horse Show
Lexington, KY (USA) – National Horse Show
Toronto, ON (CAN) – Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
Wellington, FL (USA)
Ocala, FL (USA) – Live Oak International
Langley, BC (CAN) – Thunderbird
Rancho Murieta, CA (USA) – Sacramento International Horse Show
Del Mar, CA (USA) – Del Mar International
Calgary, AB (CAN)
Las Vegas, NV (USA) – Las Vegas National
Valle de Bravo (MEX)
Thermal, CA (USA) –HITS Thermal