How Do the FEI World Cup™ Finals Work?

Shannon Brinkman photo FEI world cup finals 2023

The FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2023 will be a thrilling international championship held on U.S. soil. The world’s top athletes in dressage, jumping, and vaulting will compete in Omaha as the culmination of their respective FEI World Cup 2022/2023 seasons to determine the ultimate winners. Since the qualification process and event format can seem complicated, here is an explainer to better understand the prestigious event.
For the 2023 World Cup Final, athletes had from the end of the preceding FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final until two weeks prior to the current season’s FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final presented by Havensafe Farm. The FEI offered three FEI Dressage World Cup Final positions to North America.
In the North American League, athlete/horse combinations must start in CDI-W qualifiers in order to gain qualifying points for the World Cup Final. At any CDI-W qualifier, the Short Grand Prix or Grand Prix Test serves as the qualifying test to the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music, which is the competition in which FEI Dressage World Cup points can be earned. The three best results obtained in the qualifying competitions will count toward qualification. In order to qualify for the World Cup Final, an athlete/horse combination must have started and completed at least two times in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music at a CDI-W qualifier with scores of at least 68%.
Qualification for the Final is determined solely by point total. Ties in overall point totals at the end of the qualifying season will be broken by the highest CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle to Music score earned by the tied athletes.
At the World Cup Final, athletes will compete in two competitions: the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. All athletes who finish the Grand Prix with at least a 60% will continue to the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. The overall winner will be determined solely by the placings in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music.
For the 2023 World Cup Final, U.S. athletes had from October 2022 to March 2023 to qualify at North American League Events. The U.S. allows seven East Coast and three West Coast athletes to qualify.
To qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, athletes must earn points at World Cup Qualifier competitions. Points are based on where they finish. The winner gets one point more than the total number of starters, second place gets two points less than the winner, third place gets three points less – a pattern that continues down the list of finishers. Top-ranked combinations after the qualifying period move on to the World Cup Final.
At the World Cup Final, athletes will compete in a First Final competition, Second Final Competition, and Third Final Competition. These competitions are either a Table A or Table C classification. A Table A competition is where faults for knocking a rail or exceeding time equate to penalty points. Competitors are eliminated for a fall or disobedience. A Table C competition is called a speed competition as the classification and is established only according to time. Faults incurred are converted into seconds and added to the time taken to complete the round.
The First Final Competition consists of Table C scoring over a Table A course with a maximum height of 1.60 meters with no jump-off. It is not intended that this course should have the character of a Table C “Speed and Handiness,“ but rather a Table A course with bigger fences. The purpose of using Table C scoring is to give a skillful athlete with an unlucky knockdown an opportunity to obtain a reasonable placing. Athletes who are eliminated or who retire will not advance to the Second Final Competition.
The Second Final Competition is a Table A, against the clock. It consists of one round against the clock and one jump-off only against the clock with a height of 1.50-1.60 meters.
The Third Final Competition consists of a Table A, not against the clock. The two rounds will be over a Grand Prix course with a height of 1.50-1.60 meters. The two rounds are approximately equal in the number of obstacles and length of the course with the second round having an increased level of difficulty.
The overall winner will be the athlete/horse combination with the lowest number of penalties after the three Final Competitions.
For the 2023 World Cup Final, athletes had from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022, to qualify at CVI3*, CVIO4*, FEI Championships, and Master Class Events.
To earn points towards qualification, the athletes’ three highest scores are taken into account. Qualified individual athletes must have achieved at least one qualification score of 7.0 at a World Cup Qualifier during the qualification period. The Final is open to eight Individual Females, eight Individual Males, and five Pas de Deux. The Individual Female and Individual Male winners from the previous final are automatically qualified, in addition to the allocated slots per region. Two individual female and two individual male slots are available for North America and South America. The four highest-ranked Pas de Deux on the FEI Vaulting Pas de Deux World Cup Standing list at the date of the nominated entries will qualify for the Final regardless of the region. The Pas-de-Deux winner of the previous Final is automatically qualified, in addition to the slots allocated by region.
At the World Cup Final, athletes will compete in two categories: the Technical Test and the Freestyle Test.
The Technical Test consists of Technical exercises and additional Free Test exercises, chosen by the vaulter. The Technical exercises may be shown in any order. Vaulters must perform all five of the Technical Test exercises as published by the FEI.
The Freestyle Test consists of static and dynamic exercises. The exercises are divided into four degrees of difficulty. Only the 10 exercises with the highest degree of difficulty will be scored. The judges score based on the variety of the exercises, variety of position, unity of composition and complexity, and music interpretation.
A final score is averaged from the scores earned in the Technical Test and the Freestyle Test. The overall winner is the vaulter with the highest final score.
Learn more at

Press release US equestrian
Photo Shannon Brinkman Photo – Anna Buffini and FRH Davinia la Douce schooling in Omaha

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