Photo by Quinn Saunders.
Thanksgiving: a time of reflection, congregation and gratitude—and more horse showing. As the year winds down, the sport's top athletes are hardly resting on their laurels.
In honor of the holiday, should these athletes find themselves at an American dinner table today, we've theorized what they might just be thankful for, according to the numbers:
Conor Swail is grateful for his 1-2 punch, Count Me In and Vital Chance. The World No. 5, Swail took back-to-back World Cup victories at Sacramento (Vital Chance) and Washington (Count Me In) to kick off the 2022-2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League season.
"Since I got those two horses, Count Me In and Vital Chance de la Roque, we really hit it off, and we've gone through the roof," Swail said after his Washington win.
The numbers back that up that statement. "Crosby" and "Vinny" account for 85.78% of Swail's ranking points. A rider's top 30 results count toward his or her world ranking, and these two horses make up 24 of those results, accounting for 2386.5 of his 2782 points as of Nov. 1, 2022.
Daniel Deusser is grateful for Killer Queen VDM's paychecks. In the last two years, Daniel Deusser's sensational mount has won arguably the two biggest Grand Prix events in the world: the $3 Million CP International (2022) and the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen (2021). This mare has earned a remarkable $1.9 million in prize money since 2021...and there's still another month of show jumping to be had before year's end.
Is it a coincidence that these two major wins have come on grass? Absolutely not. Of the three major surfaces (fiber mix, sand and grass), the fewest percentage of Killer Queen's faults have come on grass in 2022.
Tiffany Foster is grateful for World Cup consistency. Since September 2021, Foster has not had a single rail in the first round of World Cup competition. Even with her top mount Figor on the sidelines to start the fall season, Foster jumped a clear first round in the World Cup at Toronto with Northern Light to finish third. It was that mare's first career World Cup start.
Foster's average finish position in World Cup competition in this timeframe is remarkable: She averages a podium finish (3)!
Show jumping is grateful for co-ed competition. Prixview ran the numbers, and the case study found that as the level of competition increases, the difference between male and female performance decreases. At the CSI5* level in the U.S., male and female finish position are separated by just 0.52 (Men: 22.09; Women: 22.61), though in Europe, this separation is doubled: 20.34 vs. 21.30. It cannot be stressed enough how special the sport of show jumping is for being the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete as equals.
Gerrit Nieberg is grateful for Frank Rothenberger: The course designer at CSIO5* Aachen, Rothenberger set the track for the Rolex Grand Prix at the prestigious venue, and it played to the winning combination's strengths. Winning mount Ben 431 has incurred the most faults at “skinny” fences, with 33.33% of faults coming at skinny verticals and 50% of his rails coming at skinny oxers. There were no skinny oxers on course in the Rolex Grand Prix. Moreover, the skinny vertical in the first round came off of the right lead, Ben's stronger lead. Nieberg may have surprised some with his big win in July, but Prixview data proved it was no fluke.
McLain Ward is grateful for the Devon Horse Show. Ward has won the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon—now named after Ward's former mount—in six of the last nine editions of the event—and he won his fourth straight in May. In total, Ward has won Devon’s Grand Prix a record 12 times—a combination of international and national results.
Henrik von Eckermann is grateful for the open water. This fence type is typically reserved for championships, Nations Cup events, and select CSI5* Grand Prix events, and it can be a recurring problem for combinations lacking confidence at the element. But for Henrik von Eckermann and the sensational King Edward, the open water comes easily. They have not had faults at the fence type in the last two years.
In the first round of the individual final at Herning, Fence 9—a vertical immediately preceded by the open water—fell more than any other fence. After jumping that massive spread on an open gallop, many riders struggled to immediately collect to the next fence, but this was no problem for the eventual World Champions.
Matthew Sampson is grateful for North America. Two years ago, the Yorkshire (GBR) native was struggling to get into five-star shows in Europe. This year, he's won two five-star Grand Prix events and was honored as Spruce Meadows' leading rider, with 17 international victories. In 2021, Sampson raked in $115,000 in earnings. This year, he's more than tripled that number, having earned more than $390,000—and he's been accepted to CSI5*-W Madrid this week. Mission accomplished!
Celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday by playing Prixview's fantasy offerings at Prixview.com/fantasy.