Omaha, Nebraska - The main arena and the Colorado State Demonstration arena at the CenturyLink Center were in a flurry of action on Tuesday in preparation for the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017. In the morning, the dressage horses had the opportunity to ride in the main arena and in the afternoon the horse inspection took place for the jumping horses.
The Finals, featuring the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final and the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, are set to host visitors from around the world at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, March 29-April 2.
There were 46 show jumpers presented to the FEI Ground Jury for inspection to ensure that the horses are fit to compete. Emily Sandler-Burtness, President of the Veterinary Commission, was among the officials evaluating the horses.
"The horses appeared to have traveled well and are ready for competition," said Sandler-Burtness. "We are thrilled to be here in Omaha and are looking forward to a spectacular event."
Riders from 18 countries will be competing for the coveted LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy. Heading the list of entries is two-time defending World Cup™ champion, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland. Guerdat, individual Gold Medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, is seeking to tie the record of Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil with his third consecutive title. A strong U.S. contingent is headed by Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward. Ward, a two-time U.S. Olympic Team gold medalist who is ranked fourth in the world, is set to compete in his 17th FEI World Cup™ Final aboard his 2016 Rio Olympic mount HH Azur. He has placed as high as second in the World Cup™ Finals (2009).
The inspection for the dressage horses will be held on Wednesday, March 29 at 4:30 p.m.Today they were given the opportunity to familiarize their horses in the main arena in the morning.
Among the favorites is two-time FEI World Cup™ champion Isabell Werth of Germany, the most decorated dressage rider in Olympic history with a total of 10 medals. Werth is seeking her third World Cup™ championship title in Omaha. Currently ranked number one in the world, she will be riding her 2016 Olympic mount, Weihegold OLD, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare.
Challenging Werth is top U.S. rider Laura Graves on her Olympic mount, Verdades. Graves was the highest-placed American rider at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games where she finished fourth individually and secured the Team Bronze medal for the U.S. Graves is currently ranked fourth in the world.
Taking part in her first World Cup™ Dressage Final is Maria Florencia Manfredi of Agrentina riding Bandurria Kacero. "When I walked into the big stadium ring it finally got to me where I was and it made me smile," said Manfredi. "Yet at the same time I had to take a deep breath as I saw my coaches, Enrique Styrle & Patrick Burssens, as well as my mom fighting back tears. It was magical. I will never forget it."
Show jumping action begins on Wednesday, March 29 at 2:00 p.m. with the training session. The following day official jumping competition begins with a one-round speed class set to start at 7:00 p.m. On Thursday afternoon, the Grand Prix dressage competition will take place at 2:00 p.m.
Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is an annual international showdown among the world's best show jumping horses and riders. In the 38 Finals held through 2016, Germany (10) and the United States (9) have emerged with the most titles, having won the championship nineteen times between them. Previous FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals held in the United States include Baltimore (1980), Tampa (1989), Del Mar, CA (1992) and Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015).
First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final features the world's best dressage horses and riders. The United States has won the championship twice - in 2003 (Debbie McDonald with Brentina) and 2009 (Steffen Peters with Ravel). The Final has been held in the U.S. in Los Angeles (1995) and Las Vegas (2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015).
For more information about the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017 and to purchase tickets, please go to www.OmahaWorldCup2017.com,