Switzerland's Steve Guerdat was the last rider to lift the FEI World Cup in 2019 before the pandemic hit ©Getty Images

COVID restrictions have prevented an International Equestrian Federation (FEI) jumping final for almost three years which means this year's event at the Exhibition Hall in Leipzig, Germany, is more keenly awaited than ever.

Four previous champions line-up amongst the 36 riders set to contest the jumping final including London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat of Switzerland who won the 2019 World Cup Jumping Final in Gothenburg.

Guerdat also won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 so is looking for a fourth victory this time on 13-year-old gelding Victorio des Frotards.

Germany’s Marcus Ehning is another triple World Cup winner but his last title came back in 2010.

Ehning turns 48 next month but is riding his stallion Stargold, with whom he won European team silver last year.

Britain’s John Whitaker last won the World Cup title in 1990, but he is back again with gelding America Unick du Francport and joins his 20-year-old nephew Jack in competition.

Champion in 2017 McLain Ward, currently 12th in the world rankings, heads a strong American contingent of nine set to line-up in this year’s final.

Competition is scheduled to begin with a speed round tomorrow followed by a jump-off on Friday (April 8) before the new champion is set to be crowned on Sunday (April 10).

The Dressage World Cup is almost guaranteed to be emotional as Isabell Werth rides Weihegold OLD for the final time before the mare is retired.

Isabell Werth is set to partner Weihegold OLD one final time in the World Cup dressage final in Leipzig ©Getty Images
Isabell Werth is set to partner Weihegold OLD one final time in the World Cup dressage final in Leipzig ©Getty Images

German Werth has won seven Olympic gold medals in a stellar career which began at Barcelona 1992.

With Weihegold OLD, she has won the last three World Cup finals and won the Western European League qualifier in Lyon to record her fifth consecutive win at the French venue.

The biggest threat to another victory comes from her German team mate and individual Olympic gold medallist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who combines with her 14-year-old mare TSF Dalera BB who took her to glory in Tokyo last summer.

The programme will also feature the return of the vaulting competition, described as a combination of gymnastics and dance on horseback.

The event has a new format this year with a technical test in round one and a freestyle round with points from both combined to decide the overall champion.

The reigning World Cup champion Janika Derks of Germany is set to make her final appearance.

She will face stiff competition from Austria’s 2021 World Championship bronze medallist Eva Nagiller.

In the men’s competition triple world champion Lambert Leclezio of France is appearing in a World Cup final for the first time hoping to add the one missing trophy to his collection.

The fourth discipline on show is set to be hand driving, where world champion Boyd Exell from Australia can expect a stern challenge from Bram Chardon of the Netherlands who lifted the 2019 FEI World Cup.