Major League Show Jumping Kicks Off Fourth Season at Thunderbird Show Park

When it comes to Major League Show Jumping, the stakes are most definitely raised.

The MLSJ circuit made its debut in 2021, and the annual North American five-star show series kicks off its fourth season this week in Langley at tbird’s Canadian Premier, which has become the venue’s biggest event of the year.

With 10 stops on the tour, MLSJ will award more than $5 million in Grand Prix prize money and $3 million in Team prize money in 2024, with a $1 million Team Final and a $1 million Individual Final, both set for December.

Eight teams—each made up of six five-star athletes, with three competing at each event—will begin their quest toward those titles Saturday with the CSI5* MLSJ Team Competition, sponsored by ClipMyHorse.tv, at 5pm PT.

Five-star competition not only brings with it heightened prize money and just-as-coveted Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Ranking points, but in an Olympic year, it also brings a few extra sets of eyes—those of team selectors.

Several Canadian Olympic hopefuls will come forward this week at tbird, including Olympic veterans Tiffany Foster, Amy Millar, and Mario Deslauriers. Foster is currently the highest ranked female jumping athlete in the world and the top ranked Canadian. The second-highest ranked Canadian is fellow female Erynn Ballard, a strong contender to make her first Olympic team.

They’ll receive a proper Paris prep, given that the course designer pegged for international competition at the Canadian Premier is none other than Greg Bodo (FRA), who will set the Olympic tracks in Paris. Sunday’s CSI5* MLSJ Grand Prix will be the class to watch as athletes bring out mounts at the top of their respective strings for the 1.60m test.

The MLSJ Team Competition will be conducted at a slightly smaller height (1.50m) and over a course that rewards speed, so you can bet that the pace will be much greater. This event was designed with the spectator in mind: With three rounds, its head-to-head, speed-focused format is easy to understand (more on that below) and thrilling to watch.

Each of the league’s first three team champions will return in 2024, including reigning title holders, the Trailblazers. This squad also returns with almost an identical lineup from last season, maintaining key players in Daniel Bluman, Darragh Kenny, Lillie Keenan, and Conor Swail. Inaugural champions Eye Candy and 2022 victors Helios are also back for more.

Two new teams enter the lineup this year in the Archers and the Maccabi United. They’ll debut as team competition gets underway Saturday in the Thunderbird Arena.

How the MLSJ Team Event Works

With three rounds of high stakes, fast-paced competition, the Major League Show Jumping team event rewards speed, risk and strategy.

Round One: Each three-rider MLSJ team competes back-to-back-to-back over a 1.45m–1.50m course. The team score is the total of their combined faults. The goal: stay above the cut line. Only the top four teams advance to the next round.

First Jump Off: Returning in reverse order and on a clean slate, the top four teams jump a faults-converted speed course. Knock a pole and three seconds are added to the clock. The twist: Only two riders from each of the top four teams compete in this Round. The sum of their times determines the team score, with the top two teams advancing to the gold medal match and the bottom two to the bronze medal match.

Podium Jump Off: Riding the same course as the First Jump Off and returning to a zero score, the Medal Round is a heads up showdown that decides the podium standings. The team rider who didn’t compete in Round Two takes the field for the Medal Rounds. Fastest time with the fewest faults wins.

Tickets are available for both the MLSJ Team Competition and MLSJ Grand Prix at tbird.ca.

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