Salvador Oñate and Beautiful Red. Photo by FEI/Rodrigo Ceceña
The road to the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals winds through Mexico.
After a month hiatus, the North American League resumes Saturday in Puebla, which will host the country's only World Cup qualifier for the second time.
Formerly 14 legs, the NAL now consists of just eight. The U.S. hosts six of those qualifiers, with three piece on the east and west coasts of the country. Canada and Mexico, which used to have two legs each, now have one apiece.
What was once split into two sub-leagues is now one cohesive League, and with just two legs remaining in the season ahead of the highly sought-after 2023 Finals in Omaha, the race for points has fully reached a boil. A total of 14 qualifying positions are up for grabs from the NAL: seven from the U.S. East Coast, three from the U.S. West Coast and two apiece from Canada and Mexico (plus any riders that qualify as "Extra Athletes" (See: Conor Swail and Daniel Coyle).
Eight World Cup events have been held in Mexico since 2016, and ahead of its ninth, Prixview has collected the best performing athletes from these classes (minimum of 4 starts):
Salvador Oñate leads the group, having averaged a finish position in the top 4 in five Mexico-based World Cup starts since 2016. This is surely due to his spectacular World Cup season in 2019, when he took a win in his own backyard (quite literally—the Leon qualifier took place at his personal farm) and finished second at Guadalajara. Last year at Puebla, he and Beautiful Red yet again were in the running, finishing just outside the top 5 for a sixth place finish.
Francisco Pasquel has helped organize all of Mexico's World Cup qualifiers, and despite wearing many hats at the horse show, he has more than held his own in the ring, averaging a finish position in the top 7 in seven World Cup starts since 2016. Pasquel was the winner at Guadalajara back in 2017 and finished top 10 at Puebla last year.
Luis Alejandro Plascencia O. is a rider you should have your eye on in Puebla. The talented and committed amateur rider acquired the ride on Oñate's Beautiful Red after Puebla last year and has been knocking on the door for a top finish. He was the World Cup winner at Guadalajara in 2018 and has averaged just 1.33 faults in his four World Cup starts in Mexico.
Misti Cassar and Mylord Cornet. Photo by FEI/Julia B Photography
There will be a fresh face to Mexico's show jumping circuit at Puebla. Misti Cassar (USA) and Mylord Cornet have traveled south from their California base to contend for some more World Cup points. Cassar and her powerful Oldenburg gelding finished third last season at Sacramento and earned their way to the World Cup Finals, where in the final round, they were clear over the fences.
Their scores this season don't reflect the strength of their rounds, as they have averaged 12.67 faults from their three World Cup starts. After receiving a well-deserved holiday after a big season, Mylord Cornet came to Sacramento this year incredibly fresh and was not at his most rideable. In Las Vegas, the gelding was much more focused, and the pair received some points with a top 12 finish and just one rail on course. In Forth Worth, the pair jumped a phenomenal clear round until, until Cassar lost her reins over the penultimate oxer and was unable to steer to the final fence, forcing the pair to circle and accounting. Their scoresheet says 12, but they did not touch a pole on that occasion.
If this pair has a rail, it's likely going to come up front (40% of their faults)—a statistic that makes a lot of visual sense, given the horse's tendency to be strong and pull his rider underneath the fences. Rideability is key!