Nine athlete-and-horse combinations will be representing the U.S. on one of the biggest stages in equestrian sports when the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final takes place in Omaha, Neb., April 5-8.
Simonne Berg and Cooper
Simonne Berg is the owner and manager of Berg Equestrian Enterprises, a sales and training facility in Santa Rosa, Calif. She and her 2007 KWPN gelding, Cooper, will be making their World Cup Finals debut this year after a string of successful CSI4*-W outings in the second half of 2022, including top-10 finishes at the Sacramento International and the Las Vegas National. The pair had their first victory at the FEI level together in 2021 in the CSI2* FEI Grand Prix at Sonoma International.
Elisa Broz and Kardenta Van’t Meerhof
First-timer Elisa Broz is the youngest member of the U.S. contingent but comes with a strong competitive record. She has represented her zone at the FEI North American Youth Championships twice and won team silver in 2022. With her World Cup Finals mount, Hidalgo LLC’s 2010 Belgian Warmblood mare Kardenta Van ’t Meerhof, Broz had top-10 finishes in 2022 at World Cup qualifiers at Sacramento International and the Las Vegas National. The pair had a successful start to 2023 at California’s Desert Circuit, where they won the $145,100 FEI Grand Prix CSI3*.
Ailish Cunniffe and Vivaldi du Theil
Ailish Cunniffe is a professional rider based out of her family’s Whipstick Farm in New York and Florida. Her competitive partnership with her 2009 Selle Français gelding Vivaldi du Theil began with the 2021 competition season. Together, they were part of the U.S. team at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ CSIO5* competitions in Mexico and Canada in 2022. They went on to finish in the top 10 in the World Cup qualifier at the 2022 National Horse Show.
As a junior, Cunniffe had a standout equitation career under the direction of North Run and was a successful junior jumper, helping her team win gold at the FEI North American Youth Championships in 2017 and 2018.
Natalie Dean and Acota M
The 2022/2023 winter season was a busy one for Natalie Dean, who earned two podium finishes at CSI5* competitions in Thermal, Calif., in December and World Cup qualifying points at Fort Worth International before heading to Wellington in January. There, Dean and her World Cup Finals mount Acota M earned top-10 finishes at the CSI4* NetJets Grand Prix and the CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. They were also selected to be part of the U.S. team for the CSIO4* FEI Nations Cup.
Dean has had a notable youth and U-25 career as a three-time FEI North American Youth Championships competitor, winning team bronze in 2017, team silver in 2018, and individual bronze and team silver in 2019. With Acota M, she was part of the winning team at the 2022 FEI Hermes U25 Grand Prix Series Team Event in Wellington.
Nick Dello Joio and Cornet’s Cambridge
Wellington-based Nick Dello Joio is a professional rider and trainer at his family’s Wembley Farms. With The Berry Group LLC’s 2012 Warmblood gelding, Cornet’s Cambridge, Dello Joio earned his World Cup Finals qualification with a top-10 finish at Live Oak International in March of 2023 and a second-place finish at the National Horse Show in November of 2022. The pair also earned qualifying points at Toronto’s Royal Winter Fair, where they also won the Big Ben International Challenge.
Other recent top results for Dello Joio and Cornet’s Cambridge include a win in the FEI Palm Beach County Sports Commission CSI3* Grand Prix at Equestrian Sport Productions Spring 3 in 2022 and second place at the 2022 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival V Grand Prix CSI5*.
Hunter Holloway and Pepita Con Spita
Hunter Holloway and Hays Investment Corp’s 2011 Westphalian mare, Pepita Con Spita, return for their second consecutive World Cup Finals after finishing as the second-highest-placing U.S. combination at the 2022 Finals in Leipzig, Germany. In the past year, the pair scored a win in the CSI5* FEI Grand Prix at HITS on the Hudson VIII and earned their World Cup qualification with top-10 placings at the Las Vegas International, Fort Worth International, and the National Horse Show.
Holloway comes from an exceptional equitation background. The Topeka, Kansas-based rider won both the ASPCA Maclay National Championship and the Washington International Equitation Championship in 2016 while also competing successfully in hunters and jumpers as a junior rider.
Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue
The longtime pair of Devin Ryan and LL Showjumpers, LLC’s 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding, Eddie Blue, return for their second FEI World Cup Finals together. The pair finished in second place at the 2018 Finals in Paris, France, and later that year were part of the U.S. team that won gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. In the lead-up to this year’s Finals, Ryan and Eddie Blue qualified with fourth-place finishes at the 2022 Washington International Horse Show and the National Horse Show, where they were also winners of the CSI4* International Welcome Stake.
Aaron Vale and Prescott
Aaron Vale is competing in his second consecutive FEI World Cup Finals this year, this time riding Prescott, a 2012 Holsteiner gelding owned by Thinkslikeahorse. Vale has campaigned Prescott throughout his career, first competing him in the 2016/2017 winter season and finding success in the young horse classes. The pair went on to earn Grand Prix wins, including the HITS Grand Prix at Ocala Premiere and the Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix at Ocala Tournament in 2021 and FEI Grand Prix CSI2* competitions at Ocala Winter Classic and Ocala Tournament in 2022. Most recently, they won the CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix at Winter Spectacular X in March of 2023.
McLain Ward and Callas
U.S. fans have high hopes for McLain Ward, who was the winner of the FEI World Cup Finals in 2017, the first time the event was hosted in Omaha. That victory came thanks to Ward’s partnership with his 2016 Olympic mount, the Belgian Warmblood mare, HH Azur. In 2009, Ward finished in second place at the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, riding the legendary Sapphire. This year, he will pair up with another outstanding mare, Beechwood Stables LLC’s 2008 Holsteiner, Callas. Ward and Callas come to this year’s World Cup Finals with a recent victory in the CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix at the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival. Among their qualifying competitions for the World Cup were a sixth-place finish at the CSI4*-W at Live Oak International and second place in the CSI4*-W at Fort Worth International.
Ward is one of the most decorated U.S. jumping athlete at the international level with five Olympic and five FEI World Championship teams on his resume. This year’s competition will be his 20th FEI World Cup Finals appearance.
Learn more at omaha2023.fei.org.
Watch the live stream on ClipMyHorse.TV.