The World Cup Jumping finalists from the leagues in Australia, New Zealand and Japan have now been decided.The series champions were all seasoned campaigners, with Chris Chugg topping the Australian leaderboard, Katie Laurie reigning supreme in New Zealand and Tsuyoshi Ueno taking the league honours in Japan.
The Australian League was the most extensive, with 14 legs attracting 75 athletes across the programme of events that began in Sydney last March and concluded in Boneo three weeks ago. It was Alison Rowland and Yalambis Carpino Z who came out on top at the opening leg, but once Chris Chugg got into gear with victory at the fourth round at Caboolture he took a firm grip at the top of the leaderboard and didn’t let go. He won again at Gawler in August, in Adelaide in September and then at Hawkesbury in October which really cemented his position. And three more competitive results - at Hawkesbury and Adelaide again, and at the penultimate round in Sydney - left him in an unassailable position.
Chugg’s main horse for the season was the attractive grey stallion Cera Cassiago who has now turned just nine. The 54-year-old rider who is five-time Australian Champion has competed three times previously at the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in Paris (FRA) in 1987, Gothenburg (SWE) in 1991 and in Geneva (SUI) in 2010 where he finished an impressive seventh with Vivant, the horse he also took to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky (USA) where the pair finished 21st.
The New Zealand League came to a dramatic conclusion with a showdown between four-time champion Katie Laurie and Britain’s Helen McNaught-McFarlane who chased her all the way for the title. There were just six rounds in the series, with the four best results counting for points, and the action moved from Hastings in October to Waikato in November and then on to Feilding and Taupo in December. Dannevirke hosted the penultimate leg in early January and Waitemata brought the League to a close a week later. However the 29-year-old rider who competed at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong in 2008, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky (USA) and at the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in 2011 and 2015 won’t be travelling to Sweden this year as she was already four months pregnant when competing in Waitemata. And since second-placed Briton, McNaught-McFarlane, competes in the New Zealand series as an “extra athlete” and substitutions are limited to the second place finisher on the league leaderboard, there will be no New Zealand representation at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016 Final.
The Japan League included results from six qualifiers on home soil as well as a single competition staged at Rancho Murieta in California (USA). Only one Japanese athlete, Yutaka Niizeki, availed of the opportunity to compete at the American fixture, but failed to pick up any points and it was 41-year-old Tsuyoshi Ueno who eventually reigned supreme in the series. It was a close-fought battle for the title however, with Keisuke Koike finishing just one point behind the league champion in second place and Tae Sato just one further point adrift in third.
At Osaka in October, 19-year-old Kayata Komaki stole the limelight with Lamour when pinning Daisuke Fukushima and Glamour van het Dennehof into second ahead of Koike and Nosco de Blondel in third. At the last qualiifer in Miki, the honours went to Fukushima with Koike filling second spot and Masahiko Iwatate in third. Koike competed in every leg of the series and produced impressive results but in the end was runner-up on the League table behind Ueno who represented his country at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Rome (ITA) in 1998. However it will be 26-year-old Koike who will be the sole Japanese representative at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Final.