France last played host to the World Cup Jumping Final 26 years ago (it was in Paris-Bercy, with a victory for America's Katherine Burdsall and The Natural in 1987). After being held in Las Vegas, Geneva, Gothenburg and Leipzig, in 2014 the finals will take place in Lyon, in Eurexpo's halls.
THE MOST GLORIOUS TITLE
The World Cup probably represents the most glorious title that a rider can win because it is awarded after a whole season of competition. For riders, qualifying for the final in Lyon next April will be the outcome of a long quest that began several weeks ago in Norway and which, after the eleven stages for Europe and in the other leagues worldwide, will only be open to the most successful and regular of them. Ten trying months, which, in the end, are just the prelude to the final, qualifying the forty best riders of the winter season.
So from 17th to 21st April, Lyon will play host to the thirty fourth final in the history of this prestigious event of which the first chapter was written in 1979, in Gothenburg’s wonderful arena (where the final was held in 2013) with the victory of the legendary horse and rider combination: Gladstone and Hugo Simon.
This initial period established the competition’s renown: thrilling finals, always won by great champions (from Hugo Simon to Beezie Madden this year, to the historic three-time winners Rodrigo Pessoa and legendary Baloubet du Rouet and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum with Shutterfly – who also won the Grand Prix in Lyon), in prestigious venues (from Berlin to Las Vegas to Kuala Lumpur, Del Mar and Paris), hours of television coverage throughout the world and jam packed auditoriums (15,000 spectators per session in Gothenburg). All these finals have given rise to incredible stories, laughter and misfortune, tears of joy and disappointment. And the final in Lyon will be no exception to this rule: five days of sport, shifts in the situation, hopes that are dashed or fulfilled.
Lyon became a stage of the World Cup in 2009 and the names of four prestigious champions are already featured on the list of winners of the GL events Grand Prix qualifier: Beat Mändli, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, this time with Checkmate, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and the colourful Swiss rider Pius Schwizer.
Each of these competitions was amazing, but a final will boast emotions on another level. Only one French rider has succeeded in winning the title in 34 years: Bruno Broucqsault in 2004 in Milan. A French win in Lyon in five months’ time would really be the icing on the cake of a celebration that will be remarkable at any rate, for those who want to share it!