It’s one of the most popular indoor events on the international showjumping calendar, and this year Jumping Verona welcomes stars from all around the globe for the much-anticipated 21st edition from 3 to 6 November.
A total of 55 riders from 21 countries including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan and Mexico will take on the best that Europe has to offer during three days of spectacular sport staged within the framework of the 124th Fieracavalli – the world’s largest equestrian showcase that draws visitors from far and wide.
And they will all have their eyes on the biggest prize of the weekend – the maximum points on offer in Sunday’s €190,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifier.
Verona, the beautiful city best known for its romantic connection to the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, has been home to the Italian leg of the annual World Cup since 2001. However the history of Italy’s link with the prestigious series goes further back.
It was first staged in Milan in 1984 where Ireland’s Eddie Macken came out on top with El Paso, and the following year was held in Birago where Frédéric Cottier and Flambeau C were the winners. Then in 1995 it moved to Bologna where it remained for seven years before it found its long-term home in Verona. The riders look forward to their visit every year as they can enjoy the delights of the charming city while also competing at a first-class venue.
And this year they will enjoy an even better experience as the Pala Volkswagen arena has been enlarged from 41mx70m to 40mx77m. World-class course designer Uliano Vezzani says it will put it on par with the big arenas in Lyon, Stuttgart and Geneva, allowing him much more scope when planning his tracks. “Seven meters equals two gallop strides and this will guarantee the horses more comfortable routes than in the past”, he points out.
Of course he has to build for the best of the best because 12 of the top 25 riders in the world will be lining out including world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, who clinched both team and individual gold at the World Championships in Herning, Denmark this summer.
The glittering startlist also includes three-time World Cup champions Marcus Ehning from Germany and Steve Guerdat from Switzerland along with Germany’s Daniel Deusser who clinched the series title back in 2014.
Frenchman Simon Delestre came out on top at last year’s Verona qualifier and returns again this year in flying form. But amongst those to also watch out for this time around are Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger and Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli who won the first two legs of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 Western European League at Oslo and Helsinki in recent weeks.
Interestingly there has never been a female winner at Jumping Verona, although Switzerland’s Lesley McNaught-Maendli did reign supreme in Bologna back in 1999. Angelica will be joined by 12 other lady riders hoping to put their names on the Verona roll of honour this weekend but keep an eye out for her husband, Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli, who finished second in last Sunday’s closely contested third leg of the current series at Lyon in France. Because he will be hungry to pick up more points in the hope of making it to the Longines Final in Omaha, USA alongside his wife next April.
In the 38-year history of the Italian World Cup there has never been a host-nation winner but maybe this is the year to put that to rights and amongst those aiming to do so will be top contenders Piergiorgio Bucci, Lorenzo De Luca, Emanuele Gaudiano, Giulia Martinengo Marquet, Riccardo Pisani and and Francesco Turturiello.
The show programme begins on Friday with the Prestige Two-Phase, the Banca Passadore Speed and the Kask Jump-off competitions, followed by Saturday’s Franco Tutti Speed, Selleria Equipe Winning Round and the Scuderia 1918 Top Ten Charity Cup. The latter, a two-team challenge, was staged for the first time last year and raised almost €12,000 for Italian Paralympic sport.
This year’s teams have already been announced and representing Team Scuderia 1918 will be Simon Delestre and Kevin Staut from France along with Italy’s Giulia Martinengo Marquet, Lorenzo De Luca and Piergiorgio Bucci while on the Jumping Verona team will be Emanuele Gaudiano, Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, Edward Levy from France and Finland’s Anna Julia Kontio.
Along with all the 5-Star action the Pala Volkswagen arena will also stage the finals of two Italian competitions promoted by Fieracavalli. The 124×124 Grand Prix was launched in 2018 to celebrate the 120th edition of the Fiera and this year welcomes 124 of Italy’s finest riders competing for a total prize fund of 50,000 euros while the final stage of the Italian Champions Tour will offer a generous prize fund of €150,000.
But the big day will be Sunday when the programme begins with the Volkswagen Accumulator before the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifier presented by Scuderia 1918 takes centre stage in the afternoon.
Come along for the ride and don’t miss a magical moment…….it’s going to be great!
(photo: Henrik Von Eckermann © FEI / Richard Juilliart)