Join the #RidetoOmaha as we build up to the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2023.

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Photo courtesy of FEI Liz Gregg

The world will be watching as the best of the best show jumping, dressage, and vaulting athletes descend on the CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, to compete for international glory.
For January’s update, we spoke with McLain Ward about his win at the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017. See what he had to say about the event, his star mount HH Azur, and what FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals winner he would have liked to swing a leg over. Then, catch up on all the Equestrian World as preparations for this star-studded event continue and riders work toward Finals qualification. Finally, stroll down Memory Lane for some FEI Jumping World Cup™ blasts from the past as anticipation for the event grows.
Read on for all the January excitement. There’s only a little more than TWO months until this prestigious competition gets underway!
We caught up with McLain Ward to talk about his incredible win at the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017.
You’ve won a lot of important classes, but what was particularly memorable about winning the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Omaha in 2017?
I think the victory in Omaha was special for us and the sport in the United States for many reasons. It was obviously a goal I had for almost two decades. I had competed in a large number of FEI World Cup™ Finals with some great finishes and some very close calls that I should have won. To be able to not only finally get that victory, but on my home soil in an incredibly produced event, was something that I think as part of the American sport we can be very proud of. In that moment with Azur, everything was going in the right direction and it all came together.
What makes HH Azur so special?
She’s been remarkable. She is now just turning 17, and she had the year of her life last year. She just continues to be brilliant. We are very, very careful, and we really try to be respectful of what she’s capable of and willing to give. When the time comes, though now it doesn’t seem like that time is coming as quickly, she’ll get a pat on the neck and make some babies. She is truly what I identify as a queen. She is in every way the description of that.
How did competing in Omaha compare to other venues?
I think [Omaha Equestrian Foundation Founder] Lisa Roskens and her team in Omaha put on as good of a FEI World Cup™ Finals as has ever been done. Everything was first-rate. It was a great venue. A city connected with agriculture is always beneficial to our sport, and it brings in a crowd. I thought it was a world-class event, and while it was special for me personally to win the Final, more importantly, as a sport, it was a great reflection to the world.
If you could ride any previous FEI World Cup™ Finals winner, who would it be and why?
There are many brilliant horses for sure, whether it be [Rodrigo Pessoa’s three-time winner] Baloubet du Rouet or [Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s three-time winner] Shutterfly, or horses like that. [Hugo Simon’s two-time winner] E.T. is another one. But I have to say [John Whitaker’s two-time winner] Milton. During COVID, when we had a little bit of time on our hands, we had a bit of a tradition of going back and looking at a bunch of old videos, and Milton was significantly ahead of his time. To ride that horse, with my style of riding and mentality, I think I would have really enjoyed that.

FULL SCHEDULE: https://omaha2023.fei.org/schedule

Press release Omaha Equestrian Foundation
Photo courtesy of FEI/Liz Gregg

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