It may not have been the fairy tale finish Phillip Steiner had hoped for at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final but the performance of the Tauranga horseman and Cassina Dior captured the eyes of many.

They are the first Kiwis to make the final since Katie Laurie (nee McVean) in 2011 and the first New Zealand combination to even compete at the prestigious event since 2015.

Making the top 30 for today’s final round was in itself a huge accomplishment, especially given the horse had spent 60-plus hours on planes in the last month. Her talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Steiner has been turning down offers on the Pip McCarroll-bred mare. “She’s not for sale at the moment.”

Today they placed at the back of the field, after having fences down in the first round of the final, finishing on 53 faults from the three massive days of competition.

“She jumped her heart out,” said Steiner. “It was a huge track from the beginning to the end and included every ask you could ask. It was just greenness and me. I have had 10 years of not jumping grand prix level and we have only been back at them in the past year-and-a-half.”

They had a couple of early rails and then in the treble had the first, followed by a clumsy stop at the second. Steiner and Cassina Dior waited for it to be rebuilt and then represented, clearing it in spectacular style. “For her to come back and jump that whole line just shows how brave she is and what a future we have ahead of us,” he said. “She handled it so well.”

He was thrilled to have his whole family, as well as trainer Greg Best, and breeder Pip McCarroll all in Omaha to watch and support and was hugely appreciative of all the messages from home. “We gave it our best and will go forward from here.”

Both horse and rider head straight back Europe tomorrow. “It has been such an incredible experience and given us a template on what to do next. I have found that these top guys are all really nice and they share stuff with you and talk. It has been the greatest experience ever,” he said.
“Now, we have another job to do, and that is helping New Zealand qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games if they need me. We won’t be distracted from that.”

Meanwhile, the World Cup Final was today won by world no.1 Henrick von Eckermann (SWE) and his aptly named King Edward who were simply stunning in victory. Henrick finished with just five penalties from the three days of competition, with Harrie Smolders (MED) and Monaco NOP in second on nine penalties, and Hunter Holloway (USA) with Pepita Con Spita in third on 11.

“It is unbelievable,” said von Eckermann, who won the speed round on the opening day of competition. “We have had the goal for a long time . . . to do it is an unbelievable feeling. The horse is amazing.” He pockets Euro 172,500 for the win.

The top 20 came back for a second round where just six managed to add nothing to their tallies over the craftily course, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR).


By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by Christine Cornege Photography