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It’s Finally Here – The Event We Have All Been Waiting For!

The 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas – the event we’ve been waiting for – is finally here! The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final will get underway in Las Vegas in just one week, and we can’t wait!

Tickets are almost gone, the arena preparations at the Thomas & Mack Center are underway, and the horses are arriving this weekend via jet or luxury charter. Las Vegas will be rolling out the red carpet as the world’s best horses and riders arrive in the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for four days of spectacular competition, the likes of which this country rarely gets to experience.

Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin and her magical horse Valegro are coming to Las Vegas to defend their title! (c) FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and her magical horse Valegro are coming to Las Vegas to defend their title (c) FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

The U.S. dressage scene is buzzing with excitement as the reigning World Cup champions, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, are coming to the U.S. to defend their title. Dujardin and Valegro are the only duo in history to hold the Olympic, World, European and World Cup titles concurrently, and they have broken every world record. Charlotte, who is also the world’s number one ranked dressage rider, is well known as the ultimate perfectionist, and she has already alluded to wanting to break another record in Las Vegas – their own – which may in fact be possible with ‘the professor’ Valegro. A total of 18 riders from nine countries, including several Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalists, will be competing for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ title and the stunning trophy.

2014 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Champion Daniel Deusser of Germany (c) FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

2014 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Champion Daniel Deusser of Germany (c) FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

A total of 41 riders from all four corners of the globe will be competing in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final. The list reads like a who’s who in the show jumping world, and boasts many of the world’s top-ranked riders including Olympic champions, World Equestrian Games medalists and FEI World Cup™ veterans. Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the reigning FEI World Cup™ champion, will be defending his title and is bringing his 2014 winning horse Cornet d’Amour.  Countryman Marcus Ehning, a three-time World Cup champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, will be putting on the pressure, as will U.S. riders Beezie Madden, (2013 Champion), Rich Fellers (2012 Champion) and two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who has competed at an astounding 15 FEI World Cup™ Finals in his career. Todd Minikus, who has competed in seven Finals including the first held in Las Vegas in 2000, is another one to watch, after having won the US East Coast League.

For those who bought VIP tickets to the Finals, you are going to be blown away. In addition to premier seating, VIP members have access to the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show, a private VIP hospitality area with luxury amenities, phenomenal food and specialty beverages. Celebrity chefs from the Bellagio have created a stunning menu of five-star dishes, while Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada will provide a sampling of their fine wines from their ‘Wine Wall’, as well as interaction with their sommelier. Live music and entertainment, the likes of which can only be found in Las Vegas, tops off this first-class treatment!

THC

The Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show

With almost 100 vendors at the Finals, the World Cup Gift Show has something to offer for everyone. Whether you are looking for a new saddle, custom clothing, fine jewelry or anything in between, you will find it at the World Cup Gift Show!

The thrilling action will commence at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, April 15 with the warm-up classes for both jumping and dressage. Actual competition begins on Thursday, April 16 with the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Grand Prix at noon, followed by the LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Round I at 7:00 PM.

Competition continues the next day, Friday, April 17, with the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Freestyle Rehearsal (for VIP ticket holders only) at 7:30 AM, the Las Vegas Dressage Showcase at noon and the LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Round II at 7:00 PM.

Saturday, April 18 features the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Final (Freestyle) at noon, followed by the $75,000 Canadian Pacific Show Jumping Grand Prix of Las Vegas at 7:00 PM. The competition concludes on Sunday, April 19 with the LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Round III at noon. All times are local time.

The FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas are going to be big, and simply amazing. That’s a fact. There are a few tickets left and plenty of hotel rooms (after all, it is Las Vegas!) so if you can adjust your schedule, it’s not too late. Come join us for the most spectacular equestrian event of the year! I look forward to seeing you there.

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World’s Best Coming to Las Vegas for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final – Don’t Miss This Chance to See the Legendary Valegro and Other Stars of the Sport

U.S. dressage fans are in for a treat. The FEI has released the official list of riders and horses that are coming to Las Vegas to compete at the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, and for those who want to see the best the sport has to offer, it is going to be a dream come true.

Yes it’s official. Olympic Gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and her wonder horse Valegro are coming to Las Vegas to defend the FEI World Cup™ title they won last year in Lyon, France! The pair has literally rewritten the world record books, breaking every record in the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle, and becoming the only pair in history to hold all four major dressage titles simultaneously as they are presently the Olympic, World, European and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ champions.

Golden duo Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro (c) FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst

Golden duo Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro (c) FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst

This is the first U.S. appearance for Dujardin and Valegro since competing at the World Dressage Masters in Wellington, Florida in 2012, just months before winning double Gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics. And with the widely-circulated rumor that Valegro may be retired after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, this may be the last chance for U.S. fans to see this history-making pair compete on U.S. soil.

Joining Dujardin in the Las Vegas line-up are other superstars of the sport including Isabell Werth of Germany, an Olympic Gold medalist and two-time World Champion as well as a former World Cup winner. Werth is bringing two horses that have already competed in FEI World Cup™ Finals. She rode El Santo NRW at last year’s Final in Lyon, while Don Johnson competed at the 2013 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. Werth is well known as a tough competitor and will no doubt give Dujardin a run for her money. Countrywomen Fabienne Lutkemeier, who will be competing D’Agostino, her Team Gold medal-winning horse at the 2014 WEG, and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who will be competing her 2014 World Cup Final partner Unee BB, join her in the line-up.

The top three from the World Cup qualifier in s'Hertogenbosch are all coming to Las Vegas: (l-r) Hans Peter Minderhoud (Glock's Flirt), Isabell Werth (Don Johnson) and Edward Gal (Glock's Voice) (c) FEI

The top three from the World Cup qualifier in s’Hertogenbosch are all coming to Las Vegas: (l-r) Hans Peter Minderhoud (Glock’s Flirt), Isabell Werth (Don Johnson) and Edward Gal (Glock’s Voice) (c) FEI

Another of the sport’s biggest names, former World and FEI World Cup™ Champion Edward Gal of The Netherlands, will be making the trip to Las Vegas for the third time to compete in his ninth Final overall. He is entered with Glock’s Undercover, the horse on whom he won a team Bronze medal at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) last summer, and also at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He will be joined by Hans Peter Minderhoud, a fellow Dutch Olympian and Gal’s 2010 WEG Gold medal teammate, who will be making his fifth FEI World Cup™ Finals appearance and second trip to Las Vegas. This time it will be aboard Glock’s Flirt, the horse on whom he’s had several top placings at FEI World Cup™ qualifying competitions.

Steffen Peters & Legolas 92 at WEG 2014 (c) Susan J. Stickle

Steffen Peters & Legolas 92 at WEG 2014 (c) Susan J. Stickle

U.S. rider Steffen Peters, a three-time Olympian and a former FEI World Cup™ Champion, will be putting the pressure on his fellow competitors as he will be looking to reclaim the title he won in Las Vegas aboard Ravel in 2009.  In this Final, he will be riding Legolas 92, the horse he rode at the 2014 WEG. The pair is fresh from winning two World Cup™ qualifiers back-to-back and earning their personal best score together. Teammate Laura Graves has exploded onto the dressage scene with her 2014 WEG horse Verdades, and the pair just seem to be getting better and better each time out. They had two World Cup qualifier wins just a week apart earlier this month and appear more than ready for the Final.

FEI World Cup™ Final first-timers include Spanish Olympic rider Morgan Barbancon Mestre with her 2012 Olympic mount Painted Black, whom she also rode at the 2014 WEG. Sweden’s Paulinda Friberg will compete Di Lapponia T, while Malin Hamilton will be aboard Fleetwood. Denmark’s Agnete Kirk Thinggaard is entered on Jojo AZ .

Laura Graves (USA) & Verdades at WEG 2014 (c) Susan J. Stickle

Laura Graves (USA) & Verdades at WEG 2014 (c) Susan J. Stickle

Russian Olympian Elena Sidneva will be making her second appearance in Las Vegas, this time with her 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Final partner Romeo Star, while countryman Tatiana Dorofeeva will compete Kartsevo Upperville, the horse she rode at the 2014 WEG.

The four riders who earned ‘FEI extra starting places’ are all seasoned competitors with top international experience. Olympian Lars Petersen of Denmark will be competing his 2014 WEG horse Mariett, marking Petersen’s third trip to an FEI World Cup™ Final. Fellow Danish rider Mikala Gunderson will be riding her 2014 FEI World Cup™ Final horse, My Lady, whom she also competed at the 2014 WEG. Inessa Merkulova of Russia, a four-time WEG veteran, will be competing Mister X, the horse she rode at last year’s FEI World Cup™ Final in Lyon. Finland’s Terhi Stegars has earned her ticket aboard her 2014 WEG partner Axis TSF.

The 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Final is only three weeks away and it’s going to be a rare chance to see the world’s best dressage riders and horses all under one roof in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!” And did I mention that Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are going to be there?  Don’t miss your chance to be part of history. Get your tickets before it’s too late!

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro will be defending their title after clinching the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France © FEI/ Dirk Caremans

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro will be defending their title after clinching the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France © FEI/ Dirk Caremans

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Celebrity Chef Creations and Spectacular Wine Wall Await VIP’s at the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show

For those of you who have already purchased a VIP ticket package to the 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, you will be glad you did. And for those of you haven’t yet, you are going to want to get one. In addition to the premier seating from which VIP members will watch the world’s best jumping and dressage riders compete for the coveted World Cup™ titles, there will be phenomenal food and drink at the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show. The luxury amenities and the unrivaled epicurean fare is only available to VIP ticket holders, and it’s going to be amazing!

Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show

Celebrity chefs from the Bellagio hotel, including Chef Edmund Wong, Executive Chef for Bellagio, Chef Royden Ellamar of Sensi, and Chef Patrick Lee of Noodles will prepare mouth-watering delicacies each day for VIP members. The five-star menu will include:

Thursday:

Sensi – 10am

  • Super Grain Salad, Kale, Line Caught Albacore Tuna Confit
  • Crab Cake BLT

Noodles – 5pm

  • Wok Fried Crabmeat Brown Rice with X.O. Sauce
  • Pan Fried Pot Sticker, Dumpling Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper Soft Shell Crab Burger, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Friday:

Sensi – 10am

  • Tandoori Chicken and Mango Salad, Organic Lettuce, Goat Cheese
  • Early Melon Gazpacho, Hand Pulled Mozzarella, Mint and Basil Pistou

Tuscany Kitchen – 5pm

  • Boneless Citrus glazed Pork Ribs, Red Jalepeno, Cilantro
  • Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo Robata, Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa

Saturday: 

Noodles – 10am

  • Shrimp & Pork Dumpling
  • Mustard Sauce & Cucumber Pickles
  • Honey Barbeque Pork Rice
  • Roasted Barbeque Pork & Fragrant Rice
  • Greens & Soy Reduction

Sensi – 5pm

  • Smoked Beef Brisket, King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Red Onion Marmalade, Savoy Slaw
  • Carolina Broken Rice Risotto, Rice Flake Crusted Shrimp, Pickled Asian Vegetables

Sunday:

Noodles – 10am

  • Dim Sum Shrimp Ball
  • Deep Fried Shrimp ball, wrap with Shredded Flakes.
  • Mayo Dressing
  • Wok Fried Noodles
  • Wok Fried Sweet Spicy Noodles with Shrimp
Southern Wine winebarrels

Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada ‘Wine Wall’

In addition to the five-star food, there will also be a bevy of beverages to quench your thirst. Along with champagne and beer, VIP guests will be able to sample a collection of fine wines and interact with the sommelier from Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada. The ‘wine wall’ will feature:

White: 2011 Iberian Remix Albarino, Edna Valley, CA

From two cool climate vineyards we call the “Bay and Beach” one about 2 miles from Pismo Beach and another about 2 miles from the San Francisco Bay in Carneros. Known for being a quintessential seafood white with a core of crisp lemon fruit and almost saline minerality. Aromatic flavors of meyer lemon, orange blossom and jasmine flowers, clean mineral finish. Touch of creamy lees on mid palate.

White: 2012 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, CA

Jim Clendenen is the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat creating internationally recognized, Burgundian-focused wines of balance and intrigue. This barrel fermented, full bodied Chardonnay has mouth filling citrus fruit and a palate cleansing, bright finish. It will become richer and more complex with age.

Red: 2012 Summerland Merlot, Paso Robles, CA

Well-balanced red with gorgeous fruit flavors of blackberry, chocolate covered cherries, blackcurrant and juicy plums. The oak on this wine is beautifully integrated allowing notes of cedar, vanilla and charred wood to marry with the fruit and soft tannins. Pair this wine with succulent pork roast, cheesy gratin or chicken liver pâté.

Red: 2012 Proletariat Red Blend, Columbia Valley, CA

This distinctive blend  of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 7% Malbec offers a lively balance of raspberry, dark cherry and pomegranate against fine, velvety tannins. Offers freshness and immediate appeal.

Bubbles: Pere Ventura Tresor Brut Rosé Cava, Spain

Pere Ventura’s wine producing vocation is rooted in a family tradition dating back to the 19th century. When he decided to found his namesake winery in 1992, he did so in honor of his ancestors. Pere’s family heritage with Cava dates back to 1872, when his great grandfather, Manuel Montserrat Font, helped produced the first bottles of Cava at Codorniu. Intense and deep pink with persistent, fine bubbles. Clean and sophisticated aromas of red fruits with a slight note of rose petal. Fresh and elegant flavors of strawberry, raspberry and cherries with a long lasting finish.

Live music and special Las Vegas entertainment will accompany the first-class cuisine and service for VIP members, along with the luxury amenities and VIP parking. In addition to admission to the Taylor Harris Club, a VIP Package also includes one premier All-Session seat to watch the world-class action. VIP Packages cost $1,500 per person for either the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final or the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. A VIP Combination Package for BOTH Finals can be purchased for $2,950.

It’s going to be gastronomic glee at the 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals in the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show. If you haven’t done so already, buy your VIP package now or you are going to miss out!

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World Class Shopping at the FEI World Cup Finals Gift Show

The 2015 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will be world-class in every way. The competition will be spectacular. The entertainment will be amazing. The hospitality will be out of this world. And the shopping will include almost anything you could want, all right there for you to enjoy!

No matter what you are looking for, you are going to find it at the 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals Gift Show. Almost 100 vendors will be boasting their wares and tantalizing the wallets of the most discerning shoppers. Visitors will be able to browse the latest in riding wear, boots, saddles and every accessory for horse or rider you could possibly imagine, in addition to clothing, jewelry, fine art and a wide variety of non-horse items as well.

For the latest in equestrian fashion, visit US Animo, an Italian company well known the world over as a leader in equestrian clothing. All products are made in Italy from top quality materials that utilize the latest technology, which keeps riders comfortable and looking great both in and out of the show ring.

Animo_logo_Clean

Comfort for the equine athlete is of ultimate importance, and having the proper saddle will help a horse perform at its best. CWD designs and manufactures their saddles with the latest technology and they offer a wide range of custom made saddles for jumping, eventing, dressage, hunters, and ponies. They also offer a huge selection of tack including bridles, girths, and boots all made with top grade leather.

CWD Vendor Booth (c)T Quirk

photo (c) Tish Quirk

Devoucoux saddles provide the perfect combination of tradition and innovation. Devoucoux now has over 18 models of saddles for every Olympic discipline, and is ever innovating to bring the best possible products to their customers.

Der Dau makes custom make boots in every type of leather, design, color and texture you can imagine. Let your imagination run wild – Der Dau can create the boots you’ve always dreamed about!

photo (c) Tish Quirk

photo (c) Tish Quirk

For the ultimate boutique shopping experience, discerning equestrians will enjoy browsing through WC Equestrian, Equis LLC, In The Stirrup, LA Saddlery, and Equ Lifestyle Boutique. With brands like Kingsland, Manfredi, Parlanti, Kentucky Horsewear, Anna Scarpati, Arista and Barbour to name a few, all of these shops will undoubtedly offer a truly satisfying shopping experience!

M & R Moda in Pelle Firence Inc. is a family-owned, leather fashion company based in Florence, Italy, that produces beautifully crafted leather fashions such as jackets, skirts, and hand bags from only the finest Italian materials. They are also well-known for their custom-made designs for discerning customers worldwide, so if they don’t have it, they will make it!

Le Fash fills the void between standardized riding attire and high-end equestrian inspired sportswear by creating one product line that can cross seamlessly into both markets. Make a statement both on and off a horse!

If you have been looking for the perfect saddle that will fit both you and your horse, there are plenty of saddles from which to choose. Voltaire saddles are hand-made in France, and have looked to the fashion industry in designing their product. Schleese saddles are customized with models more ergonomically designed for women, and are designed to be adjustable for the bio-mechanics of the horse in motion. Albion saddles are made exclusively in Great Britain and cater to dressage, jumping, and recreational riders.

Charles Ancona show jackets are made using the finest Italian stretch fabrics to provide both stylish looks and high performance functionality. All jackets are machine washable, water repellant and lightweight to help keep you cool on the hottest days. Each jacket’s design is fully customizable, and with over 1,500 possible designs, no two jackets are alike!

Since 1906, La Mundial has been making superior quality hand-made riding boots which can be customized to suit a rider’s needs and tastes for any English discipline. Whether you are a hunter, jumper, dressage rider, polo player or foxhunter, La Mundial can create your perfect pair of boots!

Ever wonder about the genetics of your horse? The folks at Etalon Diagnostics are the experts. They have created various itemized tests to diagnose genetic markers in color, health and performance of our equine athletes.

AIM Media is a rapidly growing media company focusing on enthusiast magazines and related consumer shows, Internet sites, and books. Did you know they produce many of your favorite equine magazines and websites? Their Equine network includes: American Cowboy, Discover Horses, Dressage Today, Equine.com, EquiManagement, Equisearch, EQUUS, Hitch Up!, Horse Journal, Horse & Rider, In Stride, Practical Horseman, Spin To Win Rodeo, Stable Management, The Trail Rider and USRider.

Ogilvy Equestrian specializes in the design and production of quality equestrian accessories. They integrate traditional ideas with avant-garde textiles, and cater to all equestrian disciplines – and they even have a fantastic range of canine products!

From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses, including the patented SmartPak supplement feeding system that are custom-made for your horse. The company has grown rapidly each year and is now the largest retailer of equestrian products in the United States. SmartPak is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list.

Do you know the best feed for your horse? Cargill can help you. They produce Nutrena® animal feeds and supplements which has been an industry leader in animal nutrition, research and science for more than 80 years.

This is just a sampling of what the Gift Show at the FEI World Cup™ Finals will have to offer. You can learn more at http://worldcuplasvegas.com/home/gift_show. And if you haven’t yet bought your tickets to come to Las Vegas to watch the world’s best horses and riders in both Jumping and Dressage, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on the equestrian event of the year, order your tickets today!

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Steffen Peters Makes History On Home Ground in 2009

Steffen Peters & Ravel win the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas  (c) Tony DeCosta

Steffen Peters & Ravel win the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Las Vegas (c) Tony DeCosta

The 2009 FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Las Vegas was historic. In a championship competition that had been dominated by Dutch and German riders, who had won the title sixteen times in the 24 years since its inception, 2009 was the first time that an American won the coveted title on home soil. Steffen Peters and his amazing mount Ravel put on a stellar musical freestyle performance to clinch the World Cup trophy and earn a personal best score of 84.950% to top it off!

Riding to the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil and Coldplay’s Vida La Vida, Steffen and Ravel were nearly foot-perfect as they performed in front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center. The pair floated effortlessly across the arena in a beautifully choreographed test which earned them a well-deserved standing ovation at the end of their performance, followed by deafening cheers when their final score was announced making them the winners. What a great moment it was!

Click below to watch Steffen and Ravel’s winning ride at the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Click here to watch Steffen and Ravel’s winning ride at the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final. http://youtu.be/YpzYZMPN4WI

Steffen had done it. He toppled reigning champion Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands from the World Cup throne, a seat she had held nine times, as Anky placed third; and he also defeated two-time champion Isabell Werth of Germany who finished second as Steffen became only the second American rider ever to claim the World Cup Championship – the first was Debbie McDonald aboard Brentina who won it in 2003 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Steffen and Ravel were one of the most successful partnerships in American dressage history, as the pair claimed many international Grand Prix victories. They won individual and team Bronze medals at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, and also represented the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Steffen was overjoyed with his win. Watch his reaction after he realized he made history after winning the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final!

The 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, being held concurrently with the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, April 15-19, will no doubt be amazing. History may be made again and you won’t want to miss it. Buy your tickets today and join us in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”

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The Taylor Harris Club presented by the National Horse Show at the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas: Five-Star VIP Hospitality Alongside a Five-Star Competition

Spectators at this year’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas are in for a treat for the senses. It will be a feast for the eyes watching the world’s best show jumping and dressage horses and riders compete for the coveted World Cup™ trophies; and the rest of the senses will also be indulged, especially if you are a VIP ticket holder with the opportunity to experience the unique five-star hospitality experience for VIP guests at the Taylor Harris Club presented by the National Horse Show.  Five-star hospitality alongside a five-star competition – it’s something that can only be found in the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World.’ It just doesn’t get any better than that!

The Taylor Harris Club is a private VIP hospitality area located just a few steps from the front entrance of the Thomas & Mack Center. Admission is included with all VIP ticket purchases. VIP guests of the FEI World Cup™ Finals will be treated to a plush five-star experience, complete deluxe food and beverages, a wine and spirits expo, live entertainment, VIP preferred parking and amenities that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world!

Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show

Since 2011, the Taylor Harris Club at the National Horse Show has been the epitome of VIP hospitality. With first-class cuisine and service, its popularity has continued to grow, establishing the Taylor Harris Club as the new standard in equestrian sport hospitality. Its presence at the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas looks to raise the bar even higher, providing VIP guests with an unforgettable experience.

The unrivaled fare and a unique dining experience at the Taylor Harris Club will tantalize the taste buds. An impressive list of celebrity chefs from the Bellagio hotel will prepare featured items each day, offering unrivaled fare and a unique dining experience. VIP guests will enjoy creations from Chef Edmund Wong, Executive Chef for the Bellagio; Chef Royden Ellamar of Sensi; and Chef Patrick Lee of Noodles. A sommelier from Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada will interact and offer the VIP guests the opportunity to sample an artful collection of fine wines, spirits, and champagne. All while enjoying live entertainment and music with acts that can be found only in Las Vegas. This promises to be sensory overload!

Celebrity chefs will prepare featured items each day for VIP guests at the Taylor Harris Club presented by the National Horse Show (L-R): Chef Edmund Wong, Executive Chef for the Bellagio; Chef Royden Ellamar of Sensi; and Chef Patrick Lee of Noodles.

Celebrity chefs will prepare featured items each day for VIP guests at the Taylor Harris Club presented by the National Horse Show (L-R): Chef Edmund Wong, Executive Chef for the Bellagio; Chef Royden Ellamar of Sensi; and Chef Patrick Lee of Noodles.

In addition to admission to the Taylor Harris Club, a VIP Package also includes one premier All-Session seat to watch the world-class action. VIP Packages cost $1,500 per person for either the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final or the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. A VIP Combination Package for BOTH Finals can be purchased for $2,950.

Tickets are selling fast for both Finals. Dressage fans are ecstatic with the anticipation of a possible “Showdown of the Century” between Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and her amazing horse Valegro, vs. Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and the famous Totilas, both of whom are expected to compete in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. Dujardin and Valegro are current Olympic, World, European, and World Cup champions who will be fiercely defending their title. Rath will be looking to claim his first World Cup championship and demonstrate that he and Totilas have indeed formed a winning partnership together like the black stallion had with his previous rider, Edward Gal of The Netherlands, with whom he won three gold medals at the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

Show Jumping fans will be equally thrilled as the world’s best competitors from around the world are focusing their top horses for the opportunity to clinch the coveted Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping trophy. The top European riders are aiming for Las Vegas, including reigning World Cup champion Daniel Deusser of Germany, while the top US riders are doing the same. Olympic gold medalist and former World Cup champion Beezie Madden is setting her sights on re-claiming her 2013 title, as is former 2012 World Cup champion and Olympic teammate Rich Fellers.

This is a rare chance for US audiences to see all the global show jumping and dressage stars in one place! Don’t wait or it may be too late. Buy your tickets to the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas now!

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The 1980s – When the US Ruled the Show Jumping World

The FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final has been dominated primarily by European competitors who have won the coveted title 21 times in its 36 year history. However, back in the 1980s, it was a very different story. The 1980s were the golden era for US show jumping. In addition to winning team Gold medals at the 1984 Olympics and 1986 World Championships, in addition to team Silver at the 1988 Olympics, the US dominated the World Cup, winning the Final seven times in its first nine years.

The first World Cup Final, held in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1979, was everything that the organizers and spectators hoped it would be. In the end, it was Hugo Simon of Austria who took center stage on the podium claiming the win on Gladstone in a jump-off with US rider Katie Monahan who took second with The Jones Boy. It was a crowded stage in Gothenburg that year, as Ireland’s Eddie Macken and Carrols of Dundalk tied for third place with another US rider, Norman Dello Joio on Allegro.

1980 World Cup champions Conrad Homfeld & Balbuco in Baltimore, Maryland.

1980 World Cup champions Conrad Homfeld & Balbuco in Baltimore, Maryland.

The US began its World Cup domination in 1980 when the Final took place in the US for the first time. In that 1980 Final in Baltimore, the Americans scored a one-two finish as Conrad Homfeld and Balbuco claimed victory while teammate Melanie Smith and Calypso took second. At the 1981 Final in Birmingham, England, the US once again took the top two spots, this time with Michael Matz and the great Jet Run leading the way. Teammate Donald Cheska and Southside, who were competing outside the US for the first time, took the runner-up spot. The 1979 winners, Hugo Simon and Gladstone, took third. A total of six US riders finished in the top ten!

Michael Matz and Jet Run on their way to victory at the 1981 World Cup Final in Birmingham, England.

Michael Matz and Jet Run on their way to victory at the 1981 World Cup Final in Birmingham, England.

A return visit to Gothenburg for the 1982 Final saw a change in the format and scoring along with another US win. Melanie Smith became the first female World Cup winner aboard her superstar Calypso. It was close as the pair finished only one penalty point ahead of second placed Paul Schockemohle of Germany and Akrobat, while Hugo Simon and Gladstone shared third place with Britain’s John Whitaker and Ryan’s Son.

Melanie Smith & Calypso - first female World Cup Champion winning in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1982

Melanie Smith & Calypso – first female World Cup Champion winning in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1982

Prince Philip congratulates Norman Dello Joio after winning the 1983 World Cup Final in Vienna, Austria.

Prince Philip congratulates Norman Dello Joio after winning the 1983 World Cup Final in Vienna, Austria.

Both Norman Dello Joio and Melanie Smith returned to the podium in 1983 in Vienna, but this time it was Dello Joio who clinched the win with I Love You, while Smith and Calypso took third place behind home nation favorites Hugo Simon and Gladstone. While a win on home turf was not meant to be that year for Simon, the ever-competitive Austrian did later reclaim the World Cup trophy with back-to-back victories in 1996 and 1997, and he remains one of the few riders with three World Cup wins.

The American National Anthem may not have been played at the prize giving ceremony at the 1984 Final in Gothenburg, but the stars and stripes were indeed still flying. Dello Joio and I Love You tied for second place with Brazilian rider Nelson Pessoa and Moet et Chandon Larramy, as Canada’s Mario Deslauriers, only 19 years-old, clinched the win aboard Aramis who was only seven years-old! Seven of the top thirteen finishers were US riders. It was the first time that the US relinquished the World Cup trophy after four straight wins, although the US quickly snatched it back the following year and held on to it for three more consecutive years.

The 1985 Final in Berlin saw a record field of 45 riders from 13 nations. Conrad Homfeld became the first rider to win the World Cup for a second time, and it was with the great grey stallion Abdullah, his partner at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where he not only helped the US win its first-ever Team Gold medal in show jumping, but won the Individual Silver medal as well. European riders completed the World Cup podium, as Nick Skelton of Great Britain took second place aboard Everest S. James and France’s Pierre Durand and Jappeloup took third.

Click here or on the video link below to Conrad Homfeld and Abdullah at the the 1985 World Cup Final in Berlin!

Leslie Burr Lenehan & McLain receive their trophy at the 1986 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Leslie Burr Lenehan & McLain receive their trophy at the 1986 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It was good fortune for the US again in Gothenburg in 1986, as Leslie Burr Lenehan became the second woman to win the World Cup Final. As her female predecessor Smith did four years earlier in the same city, Lenehan and her horse McLain won the title with a score of zero faults, ahead of Canada’s Ian Millar and Big Ben, who later would become the first  rider to win back-to-back World Cup titles in 1988 and 1989. Conrad Homfeld made his third appearance in the top three, taking third place with May Be.

The US claimed success yet again at the 1987 Final in Paris, taking two of the top three spots. Katharine Burdsall, a former student of Melanie Smith, copied her mentor and rose to victory aboard The Natural, the horse she rode on the US’s Gold Medal team at the World Championships a year earlier. France’s Philippe Rozier and Malesan Jiva took second place while US rider Lisa Jacquin and For The Moment rounded out the top three.

Princess Anne presents Katharine Burdsall & The Natural with their trophy after winning the 1987 World Cup Final in Paris, France.

Princess Anne presents Katharine Burdsall & The Natural with their trophy after winning the 1987 World Cup Final in Paris, France.

Following that incredible run of seven titles in nine years in the 1980s, it would be 25 years before the US reclaimed the World Cup title. Rich Fellers and his chestnut stallion Flexible broke the spell, reclaiming the title in s’Hertogenbosch in 2012, followed by a second consecutive US win by Beezie Madden and Simon in Gothenburg in 2013.

While there have been many impressive performances in the World Cup Final over the years, no streaks have matched what the US did in the 1980s. With the world’s best horses and riders competing, it is impossible to predict what will happen in a Final, but I can guarantee one thing – this year’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final (as well as the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final) in Las Vegas will be amazing and, in some way, history will be made. Tickets are selling fast, so if you haven’t booked yours yet, I recommend that you do so now; I know you don’t want to miss out!

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Three-Peat Pessoa: History Made At First World Cup Final In Las Vegas In 2000

Las Vegas has a well-earned reputation as an unrivaled host for the FEI World Cup Finals. Nowhere is our sport presented with the pizzazz one finds only in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”

It all started in the year 2000 when Las Vegas hosted the FEI World Cup Final for the first time. Back then, no one had thought of hosting the Finals in both Jumping and Dressage together, something that was done for the first time in Las Vegas in 2005. It was all about Jumping at that first event in 2000 and there was excitement about bringing the sport’s premier annual event to Las Vegas. There was also an added buzz about whether or not Rodrigo Pessoa could achieve an unprecedented “three-peat” by winning the Final for a third consecutive year.

Making History: Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet clinch their third consecutive World Cup title in Las Vegas in 2000 (c) Jan Gyllensten

Making History: Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet clinch their third consecutive World Cup title in Las Vegas in 2000 (c) Jan Gyllensten

As we know, the Brazilian superstar pulled it off and Rodrigo became the first – and still only – rider to clinch back-to-back-to-back World Cup wins. To top it off, he won all three titles with the same horse, Baloubet du Rouet!

Rodrigo, son of show jumping legend Nelson Pessoa, and Baloubet du Rouet won their first World Cup Final in Helsinki, Finland, in 1998 and then followed that with a win in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1999. The pair came to Las Vegas as odds-on favorites but, incredibly, almost never even got the chance to step foot in the ring!

Imagine the concern that gripped Rodrigo and his team when the plane bringing the horses from Europe landed and his incredible chestnut stallion stepped off the plane with a case of ‘shipping fever’ and temperature of 105 degrees! Fortunately he recovered quickly and went on to make show jumping history.

The pair won the first round speed class on Thursday night and then placed second in the second round jump-off class on Friday. Under intense pressure in front of a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center, Rodrigo and Baloubet kept their cool and jumped two clear rounds on the final day to clinch the win, etching their names indelibly in the World Cup record books.

The amazing duo went on to win a team bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney that fall and then, four years later, the individual gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

World Cup Champions Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet

Three-Peat World Cup Champions Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet

Rodrigo has participated in a total of 13 World Cup Finals, including all five held in Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009). He has ridden in six Olympic Games, winning a team bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in addition to his other aforementioned medals. He has also been in six World Equestrian Games and he won the show jumping World Championship at the 1998 Games in Rome. He also has won two individual silver medals as well as team gold and silver in his three appearances in Pan American Games.

Although three other riders have won the World Cup Finals three times (Austria’s Hugo Simon, and Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning, who narrowly edged Rodrigo to dash his hopes of a fourth title in 2003), no one, other than Rodrigo, has done it in consecutive years. That accomplishment remains his and his alone.

If you’d like to watch Rodrigo and Baloubet du Rouet in World Cup action, then click here to see their winning performance at the 1999 FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

If you want to see World Cup action from Las Vegas, then you need to make sure you get your tickets for next April’s Finals and I suggest that you do that right now because there’s a good chance that history will be made there again and I know you won’t want to miss it!

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When Brentina Rocked the House

In looking ahead to next year’s FEI World Cup Dressage Finals, I want to flashback to the 2005 Finals in Las Vegas and remember the mesmerizing performance by U.S. rider Debbie McDonald and her superstar mare, Brentina, owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas, for whom Las Vegas’s Thomas & Mack Center is named.

Based on their record, Debbie and Brentina are one of the most successful combinations in US dressage history. The pair won the 2003 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, the first U.S. pair ever to do so. They competed at two Olympic Games – 2008 in Hong Kong and 2004 in Athens, where they were part of the U.S.’s Bronze medal team. They also participated in the 2002 World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Jerez, Spain, and the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany, where they also won a team Bronze medal.

Brentina's retirement ceremony in Las Vegas 2009 (PMG photo)

Brentina’s retirement ceremony in Las Vegas 2009 (PMG photo)

Brentina was formally retired in ceremonies at the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. There was barely a dry eye in the house as a scarf of roses was laid over Brentina’s neck in celebration and appreciation of the much-loved Hanoverian mare and her contribution to the sport. However, with all their winning performances, Brentina and Debbie are in many ways most remembered for their groundbreaking performance at the 2005 Finals in Las Vegas when, performing in front of a sold-out crowd, the duo virtually ‘rocked the house” with their Grand Prix Freestyle, forever changing the way dressage is watched.

The general rule of thumb in dressage is for the spectators to remain silent from the start of the performance until the finish, but in this case the crowd could not contain itself. The choreography and music choice could not have been more perfect for the big chestnut mare, as each of Brentina’s footfalls struck the ground in perfect timing.

Debbie McDonald & Brentina wow the crowds at the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Las Vegas

Debbie McDonald & Brentina wow the crowds at the 2005 FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Las Vegas

As Debbie and Brentina performed to a medley of Motown hits, the crowd got totally involved and as Brentina performed her last piaffe pirouette and passage down the center line, the packed stadium found itself clapping along to the music which was reaching its climax with Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T. With McDonald grinning from ear-to-ear, Brentina floated to her final halt after which the crowd erupted in cheers. What an amazing moment!

Although Debbie and Brentina didn’t win that Final, winding up in third place, the world will forever remember that performance as one that changed the direction of the sport. For the way the crowd reacted to the upbeat performance changed the way people watch dressage, a fitting and lasting legacy for one of the sport’s most beloved combinations.

I spoke with Debbie earlier this year about that night and she agreed that it truly was an incredible moment. “People still bring it up when they see me,” she said. “And I have to say that I smile every time they do. It was something special that I know I will never forget!”

If you’ve never seen this remarkable performance, give yourself a treat and click on the video below to watch the night Brentina and McDonald ‘rocked the house’ at the 2005 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. And be sure to listen as the end of the performance nears to hear the crowd join in like it never had before!

The 2015 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas feature both the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final. The event promises to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever, and who knows what magical moments lie in store! So if you haven’t ordered your tickets yet, you should do so now. What a perfect holiday gift!

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Top Jumping Officials Announced for 2015 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals

With the world’s best horses and riders competing for the prestigious title of FEI World Cup Champion at the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Las Vegas next April, it is vital that a world-class slate of officials be on hand to oversee the competition.  Well, we are happy to report that that will be the case as an impressive slate of officials is in place and will be officially announced in the next few days.

Heading the list of officials for jumping is Kim Morrison of Canada who will be President of the Ground Jury. She will be joined by Ground Jury Members David Distler, Neil O’Connor, and Jack Robson, all of the U.S., and Sven Holmberg of Sweden. The Course Designer will be Anthony D’Ambrosio of the U.S., while Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela will act as Foreign Technical Delegate. President of the Appeal Committee will be Cesar Hirsch of Venezuela. Maria Hernek of Sweden is Overall Chief Steward, Debbie Sands of the U.S. is Chief Jumping Steward, and Kate Horgan of Ireland will be the EU Steward.

Kim Morrison (CAN) – President of the Ground Jury

President of the Ground Jury Kim Morrison

President of the Ground Jury Kim Morrison

Kim Morrison has been active in equestrian sport for over 25 years. She competed in four North American Young Rider Championships, and was long-listed for the Canadian Show Jumping Team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Morrison has served as a Judge and Steward, and is the only FEI Level 4* show jumping official in Canada. Morrison was President of the Ground Jury at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2012 London Olympic Games, the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games, and 2012 FEI World Cup Final.  Morrison has taught National Judge Courses over the past several years and was awarded 2013 Official of the Year by Jump Canada.

David Distler (USA)

David Distler has been judging around the world since 1975, and has organized national and international equestrian competitions since 1985. He became an FEI show jumping judge in 1989, and is currently the only FEI 4* rated judge in the U.S. Distler served as a member of the Ground Jury at five previous FEI World Cup Finals, three of which he was Ground Jury President, including the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. He served as a member of the Ground Jury at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong and was also on the Jury at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His most recent major accomplishment was serving as a member of the Ground Jury for the Show Jumping World Championships at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

Sven Holmberg (SWE)

Sven Holmberg has been involved in national and international equestrian sport for over 45 years as both a judge and organizer. He served as the 1st Vice President of the FEI, was an FEI Bureau Member and was also Chair of the FEI Jumping Committee until 2010. A member of the Board of the Swedish Equestrian Federation for 15 years, Holmberg is one of only two FEI 4* rated judges in Sweden. He has been involved in the organization of the Gothenburg Horse Show since 1979, where he also served as President for three FEI World Cup Finals. He was one of the key figures behind the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, Sweden, and was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, the 2003 and 2007 European Championships, and was President of the Ground Jury at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Neil O’Connor (USA)

Neil O’Connor is a USEF and FEI 3* Judge and Steward and officiates regularly at national and international shows. He has served as President or Member of the Ground Jury at many prestigious U.S. shows such as the Hampton Classic, Pennsylvania National, Winter Equestrian Festival, Washington International, National Horse Show, and the inaugural 2014 Central Park Horse Show. Internationally, O’Connor has officiated at Spruce Meadows and the Royal Winter Fair, both in Canada. A native of Millstreet, County Cork Ireland, O’Connor now resides in the U.S., and ironically he was the Foreign Judge at the 2014 Dublin Horse Show.

Jack Robson (USA)

Jack Robson is an FEI 3* rated judge and course designer with over 30 years of experience in the industry. He has worked with the likes of Frank Chapot, Bert de Nemethy, Pamela Carruthers, and Robert Jolicoeur to name a few. He was a Member of the Ground Jury for the 2009 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Las Vegas, and has been either President or a Member of the Ground Jury multiple times at the Las Vegas National Horse Show, Los Angeles National Horse Show, Blenheim Equisports Shows, Del Mar International Horse Show, and Ocala Masters.

Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) – Course Designer

Course Designer Anthony D'Ambrosio

Course Designer Anthony D’Ambrosio

Anthony D’Ambrosio has over 35 years of experience in the equestrian industry. As a competitor, he won thirty five grand prix competitions at highly esteemed shows such as the Hampton Classic, International Jumping Derby, USET Show Jumping Championship, International Cup of Mexico and twice held the world record in the Puissance (1973 on Sympatico at Madison Square Garden’s National Horse Show and in 1983 on Sweet & Low at the Washington International Horse Show). D’Ambrosio owns and operates Wild Horse Ranch with his wife Michael which specializes in developing grand prix jumpers and has sold four Olympic horses. For over ten years D’Ambrosio has been a FEI 4* Course Designer and Technical Delegate as well as a member of the USEF Jumper Committee, and received the USHJA Course Designer of the Year Award in 2008 and 2010. He has created tests for horse and riders at Spruce Meadows, the Young Riders Championships and the Pan Am Trials for the Canadian Team Riders. He was the Technical Delegate for the 2009 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, and the Course Designer for the 2009 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) – Technical Delegate

Leopoldo Palacios

Technical Delegate Leopoldo Palacios

Leopoldo Palacios is a one of the most highly respected and sought after course designers in the world. He is an FEI ‘O’ level and 4* Course Designer and Technical Delegate, and has officiated at competitions in more than 35 countries. He has designed courses at the highest level including the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, and is only the second person in history to have had the distinction of designing two Olympic courses. Palacios created the courses for the 1997 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the 2005 World Cup Final in Las Vegas as well as the 1991 and 1995 Pan American Games in Havana and Buenos Aires respectively. He served as Technical Delegate for the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, and the 2007 Pan-Am games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Formerly the 2nd Vice President of the FEI, Palacios is also the co-founder of the Aachen School of Equestrian Arts.

Cesar Hirsch (VEN) – Appeal Committee President

Cesar Hirsch began his equestrian career as a jumping competitor in Venezuela in 1979, and turned his interest in the sport into his full-time profession. Hirsch is an FEI 3* Judge and Steward, and has officiated at hundreds of shows for over 15 years including four Pan American Games (Winnipeg, Santo Domingo, Rio de Janeiro, and Guadalajara), Central American and Caribbean Games, South American Championships, Spruce Meadows, and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington. He was also President of the Ground Jury at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.

Debbie Sands (USA) – Chief Jumping Steward

Debbie Sands has been an equestrian professional for almost 40 years. She is an FEI 3* Jumping Steward and a USEF “R” rated judge in Hunter, Jumper, Hunter Breeding, and Hunter Seat Equitation. Her most recent accomplishment was as a Steward at the 2014 Las Vegas National Horse Show and Chief Steward at the 2014 Los Angeles Masters. For many years Sands has been an official at the Gold Coast Series, Arizona Winter Festival, Los Angeles National, and Blenheim Equisports Horse Shows.

Maria Hernek (SWE) – Overall Chief Steward

Maria Hernek is a FEI 3* Jumping Steward and conducts FEI Jumping Steward clinics all over the world. She has been the Chief Steward at the Gothenburg Horse Show in Sweden for many years, including the 2013 FEI World Cup Jumping Final. She was also an FEI Steward at the 2011 FEI European Jumping Championships in Madrid, Spain.

Kate Horgan (IRL) – EU Steward

Kate Horgan has been an equestrian official for over 15 years. She is a FEI 3*Judge and Steward, and also acts as an FEI Steward Course Director as well as the FEI General Steward for Ireland. She has officiated at many international horse shows including the 2013 FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

If you haven’t ordered your tickets for the Finals yet, I recommend that you do so today. It’s not every year that the World Cup Finals are held in the U.S. and next April in Las Vegas promises to be an incredible event that I know you won’t want to miss!

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Las Vegas Showdown: Valegro and Totilas

Two of Dressage’s All-time Best Horses Set Sights on 2015 World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas

Well, it looks like the showdown we have all been dreaming about is finally set to happen! The word is out that two of the greatest horses in dressage history plan to compete at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Las Vegas next April 15-19.

Reigning Olympic and World Champion Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain will bring Valegro while Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath will bring Totilas. Both have scheduled the qualifying competitions in which they plan to compete and announced that they are targeting the Final in Las Vegas. It is going to be a historic showdown and there is no better setting for this clash of the titans than the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”

Dressage fans from all around the globe are anxiously awaiting this encounter. Both horses are mesmerizing to watch and are almost freaks of nature in their talent. Their performances in recent years have helped catapult the sport of dressage into the limelight and projected the sport’s popularity beyond equestrian sports’ fans and right into the mainstream media.

Matthias Alexander Rath (GER) and Totilas at CHIO Aachen 2014 © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans/FEI

Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas
© Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans/FEI

Totilas, the legendary black stallion, first set the dressage world on fire about 5 years ago when he seemed unbeatable with his former rider, Edward Gal of The Netherlands. Together they were the first ever to break the previously unthinkable score of 90%, and they won all three gold medals at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Following those Games, Totilas was sold to Germany to become the new ride for Matthias Alexander Rath, a sale that caused an uproar in the dressage world.

With all eyes on the new pairing, Totilas suffered an injury and disappeared from competition. He even wound up missing the 2012 Olympic Games. However, after a two-year hiatus and some changes in training regime, Totilas and Rath made a very successful return to the competition arena this past spring looking for a spot on the German Team for the 2014 World Equestrian Games.

The pair had wins in Kapellen (Belgium), Wiesbaden (Germany), and Perl (Germany) prior to competing at the last team qualifier in Aachen (Germany) last July. That was to be the site of the highly anticipated showdown with Valegro, who swept double gold at the 2012 Olympics; however, it was a showdown that began but didn’t have the climax everyone was longing to see.  More on that in a moment.

British superstars Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro  © Kit Houghton/ FEI

British superstars Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro
© Kit Houghton/ FEI

Meanwhile, Dujardin and Valegro are the reigning sweethearts of the sport and have become household names in Europe. The duo has set world records (previously held by Totilas) in all three tests (Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Freestyle), are ranked number one in the world, and are the first to hold four titles simultaneously as they are the reigning Olympic, European, World Cup and World Champions!

 

Since the beginning of 2012, Dujardin and Valegro have never placed lower than second, although their invincibility started to be questioned last July at Aachen where they had an uncharacteristic lackluster performance due to higher than usual temperatures at the competition. Totilas and Rath, who now seem to have gelled together, made their way into the winner’s circle after claiming both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special with Dujardin and Valegro placing second. However, the much anticipated climax of the showdown, in the Grand Prix Freestyle, didn’t take place as Totilas was withdrawn from the competition “to be saved for another day.”

Another face-off was set for the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) this past summer with the title of World Champion on the line. There was an incredible sense of excitement and speculation as to which of the two legends would win the gold. However, misfortune struck again as Totilas incurred another injury prior to WEG and was withdrawn from the competition.

The dressage world was excited to see Dujardin and Valegro back in top form, however, as they executed near-perfect performances which received high scores. The pair helped Great Britain to the team silver medal and they won both individual gold medals and the prestigious title of World Champion. However, the long-awaited match-up between the sport’s two all-time greats was put off yet again.

Well, now it looks like those at the 2015 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas next April will be the lucky ones who get to see this historic face-off.  Much like the famous ‘Match Race of the Century’ between Thoroughbreds Seabiscuit and War Admiral, or other big sports showdowns like Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady in football or the famous basketball battles between Bird and Magic in the 1980s, this competition between the two ‘heavy weights’ of the dressage world will be of historic proportions. I hope you’ve ordered your tickets because this “Dressage Showdown of the Century” is surely one that you will not want to miss!

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Impressive Slate of Officials On Board For Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Finals

When the stakes are as high as they are for the 2015 FEI World Cup Finals, it is important that the officials overseeing the competition be worthy of the world’s best horses and riders. Well, an impressive slate of officials is in place for the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals in Las Vegas next April. The officials for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals will be announced shortly.

Heading the list of officials for dressage is Lilo Fore of the United States who will be President of the Ground Jury. She will be teamed with Stephen Clarke of Great Britain, Francis Verbeek of The Netherlands, Peter Holler of Germany, Isabelle Judet of France, Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus of Sweden, and Maria Schwennesen of Australia. Hans-Christian Matthiesen of Denmark is the Reserve. Freddy Leyman of Belgium will serve as Technical Delegate and Elisabeth Williams of the U.S. will be Chief Steward.

The Finals will be managed, as was the case for the Finals’ previous appearances in Las Vegas in 2005, 2007 and 2009, by Glenda McElroy and Jennifer Killinger of Cornerstone Event Management.

Ground Jury President Lilo Fore (USA) photo (c) PhelpsPhotos.com

Ground Jury President Lilo Fore (USA) photo (c) PhelpsPhotos.com

Liselotte ‘Lilo’ Fore (USA) – President

Lilo Fore has been involved with top level dressage in the U.S. and around the world for decades. She is an FEI 5* judge, and has been a member of the Ground Jury for numerous international competitions including the Olympics, Pan American Games, and World Equestrian Games (WEG) including the recent 2014 WEG in Normandy, France. Fore is also a 3* Judge for Para-Equestrian and a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) “R” Sporthorse judge. Fore has also has been successful as a rider, coach and breeder, and she has trained many horses to national and international victories.

 

Stephen Clarke (GBR)

Stephen Clarke has always been interested in training horses for every discipline. He was a show jumping and eventing rider prior to concentrating fully on dressage starting in the late ‘70s. He was team reserve rider for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games with his horse Becket. Clarke is an FEI 5* judge. He is legendary for his leadership and was unanimously elected as FEI Official International Judge General. Clarke travels virtually all over the globe, and has been on the Ground Jury at numerous international competitions including the World Equestrian Games, European Championships, FEI World Cup Finals, and was President of the Ground Jury at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Francis Verbeek (NED)

Francis Verbeek of The Netherlands is also an FEI 5* judge, and has been successful as a trainer and clinician. Verbeek has been a dressage official at several FEI World Cup Dressage Finals and was President of the Ground Jury in 2010 at s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. She has also officiated at Nations’ Cups, European Championships, and most recently, at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

Peter Holler (GER)

German judge Peter Holler has trained and educated dressage riders worldwide. He is an FEI 5* judge and also an FEI Dressage Mentor Judge. He has been an official at top international shows and Championships across the globe including the German Championships, Bundeschampionate, World Championships for Young Horses, and European Championships for Juniors and Young Riders. Most recently, he was the President of the Ground Jury at the Asian Games in Korea.

Isabelle Judet (FRA)

Isabelle Judet is well known worldwide as a FEI 5* judge and as a trainer for over 20 years. She has judged at the FEI Dressage World Cup Finals, European Championships, CHIO Aachen, and was the President of the Ground Jury at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. She served as the French Equestrian Federation’s Chef d’Equipe from 1991 to 1994 including for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. From 1999 to 2002, she was France’s National Trainer. Judet is also on the long list for the Ground Jury for the 2015 European Dressage Championships.

Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus (SWE)

Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus is an FEI 5* judge for both dressage and Young Horses. She was a member of the Ground Jury for the 2014 FEI European Pony Championships in Ireland, as well as for the 2014 FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Championships in Germany. She is also on the long list for the Ground Jury for the 2014 European Dressage Championships.

Maria Schwennesen (AUS)

Maria Schwennesen resides in Brisbane, Australia. She retired from the workforce and from competitive and professional riding which allows her to dedicate more time to her passion of dressage. Schwennesen is an FEI 4* judge and has worked on many national and state committees and boards including the Australian Dressage Committee. She was an Australian selector for the past two Olympics and for the WEG. She has been involved with the sport for over 30 years, and officiates at many international shows including the FEI World Challenge Tour each year.

Hans-Christian Matthiesen (DEN) – Reserve

Hans-Christian Matthiesen of Denmark became an FEI 5* dressage judge last June. He is also a FEI 5* judge for Young Horses. He is a veterinarian, and has been a member of the Danish Equestrian Federation Board of Directors. Matthiesen was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2014 FEI European Young Rider & Junior Championships in Arezzo, Italy last July.

Freddy Leyman (BEL) – Technical Delegate

Freddy Leyman is passionate about dressage and traveling. He is an FEI 4* Dressage Judge and FEI Dressage Technical Delegate, and has been an official at many international competitions. He was a member of the Ground Jury at the 2014 FEI European Young Rider & Junior Championships and the 2014 Asian Games, as well as Foreign Technical Delegate at the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Championships in Verden, Germany in August.

Elisabeth Williams (USA) – Chief Steward

Elisabeth Williams was extensively involved with the US Pony Clubs and managed part of their National Championships for many years. Elisabeth has been a US Equestrian Federation Technical Delegate since 1981, and an FEI Chief Steward for Dressage since 1994. She has officiated at many prestigious competitions, among them the 1995 FEI World Cup Finals in Los Angeles, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the 1997 North American Senior Championships in Maryland, and the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg. She has also been the moderator for many US Equestrian Federation and USDF Technical Delegates Forums.

First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final features the world’s best dressage horses and riders. The United States has won the championship twice – in 2003 (Debbie McDonald with Brentina) and 2009 (Steffen Peters with Ravel). The Final has been held in the U.S. previously in Los Angeles (1995) and Las Vegas (2005, 2007, 2009). There is a sense of great anticipation for the Finals’ return to the U.S. next April and I urge everyone to order their tickets today!

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The FEI World Cup™ Finals — How It Works

The world’s best riders in show jumping and dressage have their sights set on the 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals and they are gearing their horses to be part of equestrian sport’s biggest annual event when it is held in Las Vegas next April!

This will be the sixth time that Las Vegas will host the FEI World Cup™ Finals. The Jumping Finals were held there in 2000 and 2003 and combined Finals in both Jumping and Dressage were held there in 2005, 2007 and 2009; those were the first times that the world’s premier annual championships in the two Olympic disciplines were held together, and each one was more fantastic than the one before. Qualifying for the 2015 Finals has already begun and the qualifying process assures us that only the best will make it to the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ for what will surely be a week we will remember forever!

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final

Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final has been held 36 times. Besides those in Las Vegas, Finals were held in the United States in Baltimore (1980), Tampa (1989), and Del Mar, CA (1992). The US has won the most titles, 9, including seven in the Finals’ first nine years. However, it was 25 years before the US won again, coming when Rich Fellers re-claimed the title in 2012 with Flexible. Beezie Madden and Simon then made it back-to-back wins for the US in 2013 when she became just the fifth woman to win.

Three-time FEI World Cup champion Marcus Ehning (GER) won the 2014 FEI Jumping World Cup Qualifier in Bordeaux, France with Cornado NRW (c) Fred Chehu / FEI

Three-time FEI World Cup champion Marcus Ehning (GER) won the 2014 FEI Jumping World Cup Qualifier in Bordeaux, France with Cornado NRW (c) Fred Chehu / FEI

Three riders have three Finals wins: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning of Germany, as well as Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil. Pessoa is the only rider to win three in a row with the last of his three-peat coming in Las Vegas in 2000 aboard the famed stallion Baloubet du Rouet on whom he won all three.

Expect to see 40-45 riders in next April’s Jumping Final. They will get there by earning points at Qualifying competitions held in 16 FEI Leagues: Western Europe, Central Europe, North American (East Coast), North American (West Coast), Central America & Caribbean, South America North, South America South, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Central Asia, SouthEast Asia, Arab, South Africa, Caucasus, and China.

The Western European League is allowed 18 riders in the Final, and North America is allowed 14 (7 US riders from the East Coast League; 3 US riders from the West Coast League; 2 Canadian riders from the East or West; and 2 Mexican riders from the East or West). The number of finalists from the other Leagues is determined by the FEI Jumping Committee according to the overall standard of their League. If the country hosting the Final does not have a qualified rider, they may nominate a ‘Wild Card’ competitor to represent them in consultation with the FEI Jumping Committee.

In the Final, riders must ride horses on which they have completed at least one Qualifier. The Defending Champion (this year, Germany’s Daniel Deusser) is allowed to enter two horses of his choice.

Belgium's Nicola Phillipaerts & Donatella win the 2014 FEI Jumping World Cup Qualifier in Gothenburg, Sweden (c) Roland Thunholm - FEI

Belgium’s Nicola Phillipaerts & Donatella clinched the 2014 FEI Jumping World Cup Qualifier in Gothenburg, Sweden (c) Roland Thunholm – FEI

The First Competition at the Final is a speed class held on Thursday night with jumps set at a maximum height of 1.50 meters (just over 4’11”). It is designed to give a rider with a rail down a chance to stay in the running. The Second Competition is held the following night and involves one round with a jump-off against the clock, with fences at a height of 1.50-1.60 meters (approximately 4’11” – 5’3”).

Points are awarded to each rider based on their finishes in each of the first two rounds. Those points are then converted into penalties that riders carry into the Third Competition which takes place on Sunday afternoon. The Third Competition has two rounds with a Grand Prix course set at 1.50-1.60 meters (approximately 4’11” – 5’3”). The top 30 riders (plus ties) after the Second Competition are eligible for Sunday’s first round. Then the 20 best-placed riders (plus ties) move on to the second round. The winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is the rider with the lowest number of penalties after all three Competitions. If there is a tie, there is a jump-off to determine the winner.

Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final

First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup Dressage Final has been held in the U.S. four times, in 1995 in Los Angeles and in 2005, 2007 and 2009 in Las Vegas. The United States won the title in 2003 when Debbie McDonald won on Brentina, owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas (for whom the Thomas & Mack Center is named), and in 2009 when Steffen Peters won in Las Vegas on Ravel. The Netherlands has won the most titles, 12, with 9 of those by Anky van Grunsven with her two famed horses, Bonfire and Salinero.

Germany's Helen Langehanenberg & Damon Hill NRW win the FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier at Neumunster on home turf (c) Karl-Heinz Freiler /FEI

Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg & Damon Hill NRW scored a personal best score to win the FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier at Neumunster (GER) (c) Karl-Heinz Freiler /FEI

In order to compete in the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, riders and horses qualify through one of four FEI World Cup™ Dressage leagues: Western Europe, Central Europe, North America, and Pacific (Australia and New Zealand). In any League, a rider/horse combination may start in only six qualifying events, with the four best results to count.

To be eligible for the Final, each rider/horse combination must meet the minimum qualification score of at least 68% in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music in two different Qualifiers (CDI-W), at least one of which must be in a foreign country. For riders that don’t belong to one of the recognized Leagues, they must score at least 68% in a Grand Prix Freestyle in a CDI3/4/5*/CDIO on two different occasions. The defending Champion (in this case, Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain) is automatically qualified with a horse of her choice, but still must compete in the Freestyle in at least two Qualifiers during the qualifying season.

Denmark's Anna Kasprzak & Donnperignon won the 2014 FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier in front of the home crowd at Odense (c) Annette Boe Ostergaard / FEI

Denmark’s Anna Kasprzak & Donnperignon won the 2014 FEI Dressage World Cup Qualifier in front of the home crowd at Odense (c) Annette Boe Ostergaard / FEI

A maximum of 18 riders and horses may participate in the Final. The Final consists of the compulsory FEI Grand Prix and the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle to Music, and all competitors who finish the Grand Prix with at least 60% may continue through to the Freestyle. The Final results in the Freestyle determine the FEI World Cup™ champion!

With the Qualifiers for Las Vegas already underway, the world’s top riders in both dressage and jumping have marked their calendars and set their sights on a trip to the Finals next April. The good news for you is that you don’t need to qualify to be part of the big event – all you need to do is buy your tickets! And it is my recommendation that you do so right now so that you are part of next April’s incredible happening as the world’s best riders try to turn their dream of winning the FEI World Cup™ Finals into a reality!

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WEG Jumping Finals Set The Stage For Las Vegas

There was a great sense of anticipation and excitement in the air as the Show Jumping competition of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games got underway in Normandy, France, last week; not unlike what the buzz will be in Las Vegas next April for the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Final!

Great Britain, one of the Gold Medal favorites with a team comprising Olympic and European Champions, had a major setback before the competition even began as Ben Maher had to withdraw Jane Clark’s Cella due to a small overreach injury before heading to France. Belgium then withdrew Jos Lansink’s mount Ensor de Litrange before the first horse inspection.

Team U.S.A. was also favored for a spot on the podium after a very successful summer on the European circuit which included victories in Nations’ Cups at Hickstead and Dublin as well as a second-place finish at Aachen. The team comprised Olympic veterans Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, as well as veteran Kent Farrington and youngster Lucy Davis who were both making their WEG debuts.

Ireland's young superstar Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V won the opening Speed class at WEG - (c) Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo De Koster / FEI

Ireland’s young superstar Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V won the opening Speed class at WEG – (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo De Koster / FEI

A total of 153 horse-and-rider combinations started the first leg of competition with 35 nations in the Team competition and 54 countries having riders in the Individual competition. The opening leg was a speed class and Ireland’s young superstar Bertram Allen (only 19!) had a fantastic round on Molly Malone V, his Dublin Grand Prix winner, which proved unbeatable. Patrice Delaveau of France finished second on Orient Express HDC, while Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet and Conrad de Hus finished third just ahead of 2013 World Cup winner Beezie Madden and Cortes C. Germany’s Daniel Deusser and his 2014 World Cup winner Cornet d’Amour finished 7th. After the first round, France led the Team standings with Sweden second and the US third.

For the next round of Team competition, the course was nothing short of breathtaking in its design, and it also proved influential in the standings. Some felt that perhaps the horses may have been distracted by the artistic jumps which included a Viking ship, a giant hand that held brushes like Normandy’s famed impressionist painters, a gun with a knot tied in its barrel, and a medieval fortress, to name a few; but it was a masterpiece to look at!

Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) and Zenith SFN make history for The Netherlands with double Gold (c) Hippo Foto Team - Dirk Caremans / FEI  only rider to produce four clear rounds he secured his second Gold Medal of the Games and became the first Dutch rider to win the Individual World Championship

Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) and Zenith SFN make history for The Netherlands with double Gold (c) Hippo Foto Team – Dirk Caremans / FEI

Only 20 of the 144 starters managed to cross the finish line fault-free, and only two teams managed to have no penalties added to their overnight score, including the Dutch Team who rose from fifth place to the top of the leaderboard, and Brazil, who jumped up from 12th place to fifth, which earned them a spot in the top-ten team finale.

Super performances by Team U.S.A., specifically clears from McLain Ward on Rothchild and Beezie Madden with Cortes C, moved the US into second, and Madden into second individually. Germany, the WEG 2010 Gold Medalists, moved into third after clears from both Marcus Ehning on Cornado NRW and Daniel Deusser on Cornet D’Amour. Host nation France dropped to fourth, but their star Patrice Delaveau and Orient Express HDC jumped into the individual lead. Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall Ask stood third, while Germany’s Deusser and Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbeldam with Zenith SFN rounded out the top five.

The pressure in the final round of the Team competition was intense, especially for France who desperately wanted a win on home soil. Penelope Leprevost, a member of the French team said it best, describing entering the arena as being “like entering a boiling cauldron.”

Team Gold for The Netherlands, while France takes Silver and the US takes Bronze (c)  Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo De Koster / FEI

Team Gold for The Netherlands, while France takes Silver and the US takes Bronze (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo De Koster / FEI

In the end it was The Netherlands who captured Team Gold on a score of 12.83. This was their second championship title, having won at WEG 2006 in Aachen. The Gold Medal team included Maikel van der Vleuten on VDK Group Verdi TN N.O.P., Jur Vrieling on VDL Bubalu, Dubbeldam on Zenith SFN, and Gerco Schroder on his Olympic mount Glock’s London N.O.P. Both Dubbeldam and Schroder had been members on the Gold Medal team in Aachen.

 

Team USA's Beezie Madden and Cortes C - 'Best Horse' of the show (c) Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo De Koster / FEI

Individual Bronze medalist Beezie Madden of the US and Cortes C – ‘Best Horse’ of the show (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo De Koster / FEI

France re-claimed their Silver Medal from WEG 2010 in Kentucky with a score of 14.08, edging out the US who took Bronze with 16.72. As the second-to-last rider to go, Beezie Madden had all the pressure knowing she had to go clear to clinch the Bronze. She demonstrated why she is regarded as one of the world’s best by producing one of only ten clears in the competition, which secured the US a spot on the podium and propelled her to the top of the standings in the Individual competition. Sweden’s Bengtsson held second, while Denmark’s Soren Pedersen and Tailormade Esperanza De Rebel S moved into third. Overnight leader Delaveau of France dropped a rail and three spots to end the day in fourth.

With the weight of the team competition off their shoulders, the riders focused on the individual medals as the top 29 in the standings competed in a two-round competition hoping to earn one of just four spots in the Final. Madden and Ward were among the top contenders and they advanced with 19 other riders to the second round. In the end, just 3/10th of a penalty kept Ward from joining Madden in the Top Four, as the two-time Olympic team Gold Medalist and 2006 WEG team Silver Medalist wound up fifth.

The home crowd went wild with the news that Delaveau, who grew up only 40km away, not only made it through but actually led the rankings. Sweden’s Bengtsson and The Netherlands’ Dubbeldam joined him and Madden for the final battle for Gold.

France's own Patrice Delaveau and Orient Express HDC take both Team and Individual Silver at WEG (c) Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo De Koster/ FEI

France’s own Patrice Delaveau and Orient Express HDC take both Team and Individual Silver at WEG (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo De Koster/ FEI

The final round at WEG is different from all other competitions in that the top four riders ride not only their own horses, but each other’s horses as well. The format is controversial, but it’s truly exciting to watch the world’s top riders compete over a world-class course with only minutes to prepare on horses which they have never ridden!

Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbeldam wins Gold (center),  France's Patrice Delaveau takes Silver (left) and  US rider Beezie Madden takes Bronze  (c) Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo de Koster / FEI

Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbeldam wins Gold (center), France’s Patrice Delaveau takes Silver (left) and US rider Beezie Madden takes Bronze (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo de Koster / FEI

Dubbeldam’s rides on all four horses was pure harmony. As the only rider to produce four clear rounds he secured his second Gold Medal of the Games and became the first Dutch rider to win the Individual World Championship. It was disappointment for Delaveau who was achingly close to Gold and who had to settle for Silver after receiving one time penalty in the third round on Casall Ask. Madden secured the Bronze medal with a total of 12 faults, her second WEG individual medal after having won Silver in 2006.

Madden’s amazing mount, Cortes C, owned by Abigail Wexner, earned the ‘Best Horse’ title as he was the only horse to produce clear rounds with all four riders. In addition, he jumped four clears out of five rounds in the earlier competitions.

The thrilling finale to WEG gives us good insight into the excitement we can expect next April at the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas. Don’t miss your chance to watch the sport’s absolute best horses and riders go head-to-head in Las Vegas next April; be sure to order your tickets today!

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World Equestrian Games Dressage Medalists Shine In Normandy

The 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG) got underway in Normandy, France, last week and the world’s best dressage riders and horses headlined the first week of competition at the d’Ornano Stadium.

Packed stands at the  d'Ornano Stadium for the Dressage competition

Packed stands at the d’Ornano Stadium for the Dressage competition – photo (c) Nicole Graf Ussher

There were trials and tribulations, along with cheers and tears, over the four days of competition, and spectators were treated to phenomenal performances of which they couldn’t get enough. The stands were filled and the stadium was abuzz, just as it will be next April for the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Las Vegas when the FEI World Cup Finals in both dressage and jumping return to the Entertainment Capital of the World!

At WEG, there was drama before the Games even started. Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath had to withdraw his superstar Totilas due to a last-minute injury. It was a great disappointment for fans who were looking forward to a rematch between the famous black stallion and the Olympic Champion Valegro, ridden by Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, who was beaten by Rath just the month before at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany.  The Dutch Team also had to make adjustments to their roster as Danielle Heijkoop’s Kingsley Siro and Edward Gal’s Glock’s Undercover were also placed on the injured list, and Gal had to call upon his second horse Glock’s Voice to step in.

Grand Prix Team Competition

The Grand Prix Team competition got underway under ominous skies that continued throughout both days of the Grand Prix, and several unlucky riders had to perform their tests in torrential rain.

Germany win Team Gold - photo (c) Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo de Koster / FEI

Team Gold for Germany – photo (c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo de Koster / FEI

Germany, which uncharacteristically took only the Bronze medal at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky, reclaimed their Gold. Fabienne Lutkemeier, who was called upon last minute to replace Rath, got the unlucky draw as first rider to go with D’Agostino FRH, but the 24 year-old kept her cool and scored 73.586%, while teammate Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH received the best score of the first day, 78.814%, which gave the Germans a head start.  Helen Langehanenberg put in a top performance with Damon Hill NRW to score 81.357%, while Isabell Werth and Bella Rose 2 earned 81.529%. Werth’s dreams of an individual medal were unfortunately dashed, as she had to withdraw the mare from the rest of the competition after slightly injuring herself.

 

Great Britain takes the Silver: (l-r) Carl Hester, Michael Eilberg, Charlotte Dujardin, Gareth Hughes - photo (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

Great Britain takes the Silver: (l-r) Carl Hester, Michael Eilberg, Charlotte Dujardin, Gareth Hughes – photo (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

Great Britain once again proved their well-deserved placement at the top of the sport, and repeated their Team Silver medal from WEG 2010. The Brits have become sweethearts of the sport, as the former underdogs have fought their way to the top and are now regulars on the podium. Olympic gold medalist and 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cup champion Charlotte Dujardin and her dancing horse Valegro didn’t disappoint their fans or the judges, earning the top Grand Prix score of 85.271%. Her teammate and trainer Carl Hester and Nip Tuck earned their own personal best score of 74.186%, which added to the continuation of their fairy tale. The big gelding was purchased by Carl and friend Jane de la Mare as an unattractive yearling for only 1,000 Euros and he lives out in a field – not the usual story for a top international Grand Prix horse! Teammates Michael Eilberg on Half Moon Delphi along with Gareth Hughes and DV Stenkjers Nadonna also performed well, earning 71.886% and 69.714% respectively.

The Netherlands wins the Bronze medal and Selfie of the day! (l-r) Adelinde Cornelissen, Edward Gal, Diederik Van Silfhout and Hans Peter Minderhoud (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

The Netherlands wins the Bronze medal and Selfie of the Day! (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

Despite losing two top horses from their original lineup, the Dutch fought valiantly, but in the end had to settle for the Bronze. A super performance from Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Johnson in the pouring rain received a 74.357%, while Diederik van Silfhout and Arlando NH N.O.P., also put in a fantastic effort which earned 73.414%. On the second day of competition the heightened atmosphere seemed to rattle Glock’s Voice a little, but the 2010 WEG triple gold medalist Edward Gal expertly guided him to a 72.414%. Two-time World Cup champion Adelinde Cornelissen and her Olympic partner Jerich Parzival N.O.P. showed their expertise, earning a 79.629%.

Team U.S.A.’s fourth place finish was impressive after a superb performance by Olympic veteran and 2009 World Cup champ Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, who scored 75.843%. Team ‘newbie’ Laura Graves and Verdades performed amazingly well under pressure, and scored 74.981% in her first-ever WEG appearance and her first European tour. Spectacular! Adrienne Lyle and her Olympic partner Wizard had a solid test which earned 72.000%, as did Tina Konyot and Calecto V, who received 69.643%.

Grand Prix Special

With team medals decided, the riders focused on their individual performances and the Grand Prix Special proved exciting indeed, as the top 30 competitors moved forward. Great Britain’s golden girl Dujardin came to WEG on a mission – to win both of the individual Golds and to become the first rider to hold Olympic, European, World Cup, and World Champion titles at the same time – the first three of which she had already won. Although they didn’t put in a mistake-free test, the duo scored a fantastic 86.120% in the Special to clinch the Gold. One down and one to go!

Germany's Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH win the Bronze medal in the Grand Prix Special  © Hippo Foto Team - Leanjo de Koster - FEI

Germany’s Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH win the Bronze medal in the Grand Prix Special
(c) Hippo Foto Team – Leanjo de Koster – FEI

Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill, another crowd favorite, took the Silver with 84.468%, while teammate Kristina Sprehe and the elegant Desperados FRH took the Bronze with 79.762%. It was a tough day for Holland’s Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival who had a super test, but unfortunately had entered the arena after the allotted 45 seconds which meant extra penalties and a finish just out of medal contention with a score of 79.328%.

Laura Graves and Verdades, a horse her mother bought for her as a foal which she then trained to Grand Prix herself, were the highest placed American duo, finishing in 8th. Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 finished 10th.

Grand Prix Freestyle

Golden girl Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro claim their second gold medal at WEG in the Grand Prix Freestyle - photo (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

Golden girl Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro claim their second gold medal at WEG in the Grand Prix Freestyle – photo (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

It was a perfect day for the individual medal finale as the sun shone down on the sold-out stadium of 20,000 and the excitement in the air was palpable. The crowds cheered with each rider that came through the tunnel into the arena, and when you thought it couldn’t get any louder it did – especially when Dujardin and Valegro trotted in. This was only the third time they had performed to their ‘new’ music, but it seemed like old hat and this time the pair was foot-perfect, and they scored a whopping 92.161% to win Gold and make Dujardin’s wishes for two WEG Gold medals come true.

Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival N.O.P. take the Bronze -  (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival N.O.P. take the Bronze – (c) CO Normandie 2014PSV

A dazzling performance from Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW earned 88.286% to secure the Silver, which will be added to their collection of Olympic, European, and World Cup Final medals. It was a much brighter day for Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, as the pair danced their way to a well-deserved Bronze medal with a score of 85.714%.

The U.S.’s Graves and Verdades had the performance of their life with a beautifully harmonious Freestyle which earned them an 82.036% and fifth place among the greatest riders in the world. What an exciting combination to have for Team U.S.A.’s future! The top stars of the 2014 WEG and their amazing accomplishments promise to make the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas a historic event you won’t want to miss; be sure to reserve your tickets today!

WEG fairy-tale for U.S. rider Laura Graves and Verdades who finished 5th in the world! photo (c) Susan J Stickle

WEG fairy-tale for U.S. rider Laura Graves and Verdades who finished 5th in the world! photo (c) Susan J Stickle

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Top Jumping Horses and Riders Prepare for WEG

With just one week left till the opening of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, the excitement has nearly reached its peak.

The d'Ornano Stadium in Caen is the venue for the Show Jumping at WEG photo (c) Kit Houghton

The d’Ornano Stadium in Caen is the venue for the Show Jumping at WEG  (c) Kit Houghton

WEG runs August 23 – September 7, with the Jumping competition beginning on September 1. A total of 54 National Federations have declared their nominated entries – 38 have entered teams, and another 16 are sending riders to compete as individuals. Although nominated entries were due at the end of July, the federations do not have to declare which riders and horses will ride until August 22 – just a day before opening ceremonies! 196 horse-and-rider combinations are expected and how they perform could give us a good idea of who we’re likely to see at next April’s World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

With three consecutive FEI Nations’ Cup wins in early August (two with teams comprising WEG short-listed horses and riders), the U.S. has re-established itself as a leading medal contender, and there is good reason to believe that they will redeem themselves after medal-less performances at the 2010 WEG and 2012 Olympics. On Wednesday, the U.S. named a squad comprising veterans Beezie Madden with Cortes ‘C’ or Simon, McLain Ward with Rothchild and Kent Farrington with Voyeur together with the younger Lucy Davis and Barron; Margie Engle with Royce is the alternate.

At Aachen last month, the U.S. team was very impressive, finishing second in the Nations’ Cup behind Belgium. All the riders put in good performances with Davis and Barron producing a double-clear. Farrington won the Prize of Europe class and placed second in the Grand Prix aboard Voyeur, who won the show’s “Best Horse” award.

Beezie Madden and  Cortes C help the U.S. Team win the 2014 FEI Nations Cup at Hickstead (c)  Jon Stroud/FEI

Beezie Madden and Cortes C  at Hickstead (c) Jon Stroud/FEI

The U.S. then dominated at Hickstead, clinching the Nations’ Cup with a team of four Olympic veterans –Ward on Rothchild, Engle on Royce, Madden on Cortes C, and Reed Kessler on Cylana.  Madden, the 2013 World Cup champion who only recently returned to competition after breaking her collarbone in May, went on the make Hickstead history, winning the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup aboard Cortes C, becoming the first woman to win the class in its 108-year history.

The following weekend the U.S. claimed another Nations’ Cup victory at Dublin. Madden rode her World Cup winner Simon, while Katie Dinan rode Nougat du Vallet, Jessica Springsteen was on Vindicat W, and Charlie Jayne rode Chill RZ. The strong performances gave chef d’equipe Robert Ridland multiple options for assembling his team and he appears to have a WEG squad ready to return to the medal podium.

Scott Brash GBR on Hello Sanctos at Estoril 2014 photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

World number one Scott Brash (GBR) on Hello Sanctos at Estoril 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

Great Britain also has announced its WEG team with the exception of the reserve and it includes Olympic veterans Scott Brash, Ben Maher and Michael Whitaker, as well as Joe Clee and Spencer Roe. Brash, currently ranked number one in the world, will be riding his 2012 Olympic gold medal partner Hello Sanctos, while London Olympic teammate Ben Maher, ranked number three, will be riding Jane Clark’s Cella, with whom he won Team Gold at the 2013 European Championships. Clee is on Utamaro D’Ecaussines, while Roe will be aboard Wonder Why. Despite missing the Nations’ Cup classes at Hickstead and Dublin, Whitaker, a four-time Olympian, has also been named to the squad with his European Team Gold medal mount, Viking V.

As strong as the U.S. and Great Britain may be, Germany seems to be most people’s favorite to repeat their 2010 WEG gold. Christian Ahlmann and his Olympic mount Codex One is a more than likely team candidate, as the pair recently won the Grand Prix of Aachen and the Valkenswaard Grand Prix, although his Aragon Z and Cornado II are also on the list. Daniel Deusser has three nominated horses including his 2014 World Cup winner Cornet d’Amour, as well as First Class van Eeckelghem, and Fyloe V. Claeyssenhof.

Germany's Christian Ahlmann on Codex One on the Global Champions Tour 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/ LGCT

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann on Codex One on the Global Champions Tour 2014 (c) Stefano Grasso/ LGCT

Olympic and WEG gold medalist Ludger Beerbaum, currently ranked number two in the world, has three nominated horses (Chiara 222, Chaman and Zinedine) and three-time World Cup champion Marcus Ehning is listed with his veteran partner Plot Blue, as well as Cornado NRW. Beerbaum, Ehning and Deusser are all ranked in the top 10 in the FEI World Rider rankings. Three-time World Cup champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum is also short-listed with Atlanta 541 and Fibonacci 17, while Katrin Eckermann is listed with her Aachen mount Firth of Lorne as well as Carlson 46.

Lucy Davis USA and Barron in Lausanne 2014 GCT (c) Stefano Grasso-Longines Global Champions Tour

Lucy Davis (USA) and Barron (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT

The U.S., Germany and Great Britain seem to have the deepest talent, although other countries, notably Holland and Belgium, are also strong contenders for team and individual medals with talented horses and riders we’re likely to see at Vegas next spring. When WEG concludes, the World Cup qualifying season will kick into high gear and the countdown to Las Vegas will officially be underway. I hope you’ve ordered your tickets, because if you love equestrian sports, next April’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas is one event you will not want to miss!

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Best Riders Show What They Have at Aachen World Equestrian Festival

The World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany is arguably the world’s biggest equestrian event held each year. The world’s best come together to compete in five disciplines including jumping and dressage, the two disciplines whose World Cup Finals we will be hosting in Las Vegas next April.

Given that this year’s World Equestrian Festival at Aachen was just six weeks before the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France, the top riders in the world were on hand with their horses primed to perform their best. The results give us a hint of which horses and riders may be ready for medal-winning performances at Normandy and which ones we might be seeing next April in Las Vegas.

In dressage, most of the attention coming in was focused on Great Britain and its record holding duo of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, winners of double Gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games and also this year’s World Cup champions. The world was stunned to see Dujardin and Valegro turn in a sub-par performance in the team competition’s Grand Prix and receive a score of only 76.900%, their worst score since 2012. This was only good enough for a sixth place finish individually and left the British team in fourth place.

Germany's Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas<br /> claim victory in the Dressage Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at 2014 Aachen CHIO © Hippo Foto - Dirk Caremans/FEI

Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas
claim victory in the Dressage Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at 2014 Aachen CHIO © Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans/FEI

While there was disappointment, and maybe some concern, among the Brits, there was elation for the hometown German team as they saw not only a win by Germany, but also the long-awaited emergence of rider Matthias Rath with the former record-setting horse, Totilas, the 2010 World Cup champion and WEG triple Gold Medalist when ridden by Holland’s Edward Gal. Rath and Totilas scored a spectacular 82.300% in the Grand Prix, and also won the Grand Prix Special, showing that they may finally have found their groove.

After placing second to Rath and Totilas in the Special, Dujardin and Valegro redeemed themselves in the Grand Prix Freestyle where they rode to victory, although they did not have a chance to beat Rath and Totilas who withdrew from that competition. Finishing in second and third place in the Freestyle were German team members Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW and Isabell Werth on Bella Rose 2 respectively.

Given that it is the Freestyle that determines the World Cup Champion, Valegro and Dujardin are probably still considered the favorites, at least until we see what happens at Normandy, but the performances of all the German riders, especially Rath and Totilas, shows that any one of them could be ready to challenge Valegro and Dujardin at Vegas next spring.

The U.S team of Laura Graves on Verdades, Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O and Tina Konyot on Calecto V placed seventh in the Nations’ Cup with Graves placing 13th individually. Lyle and Graves were also impressive in tying for 10th in the Freestyle. One of the U.S.’s other top combinations, three-time Olympic veteran and 2009 World Cup champion Steffen Peters with Legolas 92, skipped Aachen as Peters was hospitalized with pneumonia. They remain strong candidates for the U.S. team for this year’s WEG and to make it to the World Cup in Las Vegas.

Christian Ahlmann and Codex One, winners of the CHIO Aachen Grand Prix (c) Rolex/Kit Houghton

CHIO Aachen Grand Prix winners Christian Ahlmann and Codex One (c) Rolex/Kit Houghton

In show jumping, Christian Ahlmann of Germany, aboard his Olympic mount Codex One, won the Grand Prix with second place going to American Kent Farrington on Voyeur. Farrington had a stellar week with several top performances including winning the Prize of Europe qualifier for the Grand Prix. After his performance in the Grand Prix, Farrington’s Voyeur was awarded the Halla Award, which is given to the “Best Horse of the Show.”

Germany’s Marcus Ehning on Plot Blue and Daniel Deusser on Cornet D’amour placed third and fourth respectively and are both strong candidates to win it all at Vegas next spring. Ehning is a three-time World Cup champion (2003, 2006, 2010) and Deusser is the reigning World Cup champion having won the title on Cornet D’amour in Lyon, France this past April.

Several other U.S. riders also qualified for the Grand Prix and held their own against the world’s best, including Lauren Hough on Ohlala and Lucy Davis on Barron, who finished fifth and sixth respectively. The U.S. also looked strong in the Nations’ Cup team competition, placing second to Belgium with Davis turning in a double clear on Barron and Reed Kessler and Cylana totaling just four faults for the two rounds.

Kent Farrington, leading  U.S. rider at Aachen CHIO

Kent Farrington, leading U.S. rider at World Equestrian Festival Aachen (c) Shawn McMillen

The results from Aachen could well be an indicator of what’s to come next April in Las Vegas and there is one thing that we know for sure – no matter who makes it to Vegas, next year’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will present the world’s greatest riders and horses in exciting competition in the “Entertainment Capital of the World!”

With the completion of the exclusive renewal and World Cup Club ticket periods, all-session tickets for the 2015 FEI World CupTM Finals in Las Vegas are now on sale to the general public. If you haven’t ordered yours yet, be sure to do so today at the World Cup’s website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.

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Elite Dressage Horses and Riders Prepare for WEG

To say that the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), to be held in Normandy, France, on August 23-September 7, is going to be exciting is an understatement. A record 76 National Federations have declared their intention to participate, which is 15% higher than any WEG in the past! In the dressage competition, a total of 39 national federations have entered – 28 countries will have Team representation, and 11 countries will have athletes competing as Individuals. Over 300,000 tickets have been sold for WEG thus far, and the dressage finale, the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music competition, is already sold out!

With the official nominated entries due in later this month, top dressage riders from around the world are still competing ferociously for their chance to compete at WEG. The last major WEG qualifying competition, the Aachen CHIO Equestrian Festival in Germany, is in full swing as I write this, and most of the world’s the top horses and riders are there in attendance. Aachen is a required outing for many nation’s short-listed riders, but for those who have already secured their team spot, it is an excellent dress rehearsal for next month’s WEG.

Adrienne Lyle (USA) & Wizard at 2014 Nations Cup Wellington (c) Susan J Stickle

Adrienne Lyle (USA) & Wizard (c) Susan J. Stickle

The U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) selected a short-list of eight horse-and-rider combinations for the dressage competition at WEG, all of whom travelled to Europe weeks ago to prepare and attend the two final mandatory outings. The first was the Fritzens CDI4* that took place in Austria earlier this month, and the second is the on-going competition in Aachen. The U.S. contingency made a strong showing in Austria, with seven members of the Short List participating at the event. Laura Graves and her own Verdades, took second place in the Grand Prix and also the Grand Prix Special in which four of the top seven placings went to U.S. riders. Team veteran Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 claimed second place in the Grand Prix Freestyle while Tina Konyot and her own Calecto V took third.  Adrienne Lyle with Wizard, as well as Caroline Roffman riding her own Highness O also proved competitive at Fritzens, and have been named to the U.S. team for the Nations’ Cup CDIO5* competition at Aachen this week along with Graves and Konyot. Roffman will replace Peters who was slated to compete with Legolas 92, but he has withdrawn from the competition due to personal illness. However, the pair have completed their one compulsory mandatory outing (Fritzens), so are still assured of a place on the WEG Team by U.S. team Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover.  Unfortunately Jan Ebeling’s 2012 Olympic partner Rafalca suffered a minor injury upon arrival in Europe, and over the weekend it was announced that the 17 year-old mare has been withdrawn from contention for WEG, and is now officially retired from competition.

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro will be looking to make history © Dirk Caremans

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro will be looking to make history © Dirk Caremans

The Americans will have their work cut out for them at WEG. The world’s top-ranked horses and riders will all be going for Gold, and no one more so than Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain who is seeking to make history aboard Valegro by winning their fourth major title. The duo won individual and team Gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, took Gold at the 2013 FEI European Championships, as well as the 2014 Reem Acra FEI Dressage World Cup Final held last April. They are ranked number one in the world, and have broken the world record (even their own!) in the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix Kur to music. No rider has ever held all four titles concurrently, and although the dancing pair seem unbeatable, there are quite a few that are going to try!

Carl Hester (GBR)  riding Nip Tuck at the WEG Dressage Test event at Stade d'Ornano, main venue for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™

Carl Hester (GBR) riding Nip Tuck at the WEG Dressage Test event at Stade d’Ornano, main venue for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™

Dujardin’s mentor and British Olympic teammate, Carl Hester, is causing a stir with fans in regards to which horse he will ride at WEG. It may be a last minute decision by Hester whether he rides Dances With Wolves or Nip Tuck, a horse that is fairly new to the Grand Prix scene, but who won the Grand Prix Special at the WEG Test Event in Caen just a few weeks ago, and dominated the Hartpury CDI 3* in England over the weekend.

Edward Gal is setting his sights on bringing home another WEG gold for the Netherlands - this time with Glock's Undercover  © Dirk Caremans

Edward Gal is setting his sights on bringing home another WEG gold for the Netherlands – this time with Glock’s Undercover © Dirk Caremans

The Netherlands will be looking to claim another WEG, having won team Gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, her Silver and Bronze medal winning partner at the 2012 Olympics, have come back into flying form after the big chestnut was successfully treated for cardiac arrhythmias last year, and the pair have won their last three outings. Edward Gal will be making his third WEG appearance, this time with his 2012 London Olympic partner Glock’s Undercover. Gal won both individual and team Gold at the 2010 WEG aboard his former ride, Totilas, the famous black stallion that set the dressage world on fire with his exuberant movement, and has been at the center of controversy ever since he was sold to Germany for Matthias Alexander Rath to compete.

Helen Langehanenberg  (GER) and Damon Hill NRW © Dirk Caremans

Helen Langehanenberg (GER) and Damon Hill NRW © Dirk Caremans

The Germans are historically top equestrian competitors, and are well-known for their arsenal of fantastic horses and riders. After a two-year hiatus due to injury, Totilas and Rath have only just recently returned to competition and they are in winning form already, their partnership seeming to come together under the watchful eye of Dutch coach Sjef Janssen, trainer and husband of Dutch Olympic rider Anky van Grunsven. Helen Langehanenberg, currently ranked number two in the world, will be seeking to take the center spot on the podium aboard champion stallion Damon Hill NRW. The pair have been out of the spotlight for the past couple months since their Silver Medal winning performance at the 2014 FEI World Cup Final, and will most certainly have used their time away from the show ring to perfect their performance. The duo won a team Silver medal at the 2012 Olympics, along with Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH who took third place last month in both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at the Perl CDI4*, the first German WEG Selection Trial. They also have their sights on a German team spot.

With so many of the world’s best horses and riders heading for Normandy, combined with the thought of Valegro and Totilas going head-to-head, dressage fans around the world are already on the edge of their seats. It should also set the stage for a fabulous FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April!

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Previous World Cups: A Look Back At The Historic Moments

As the excitement continues to build for the 2015 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas next April, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the groundbreaking moments and historic feats from the five previous FEI World Cup Finals held in Las Vegas.

As we’ve discussed before, there was a great sense of anticipation for the initial Final in Las Vegas in 2000, with an expectation that the dynamic sport of show jumping (dressage wouldn’t be added till 2005) would be presented like never before. Well, it certainly turned out to be the case and no one expressed it better than Max Ammann, creator of the World Cup, who said after that initial event that, “World-class sport and world-class entertainment were combined to create arguably the greatest equine extravaganza that has ever existed!”

Showgirls add to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas

Showgirls add to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas

And based on the thousands of people who have come to Vegas for each of the following Finals, the world agreed! With Vegas performers like Susan Anton and Clint Holmes, amazing opening ceremonies, fireworks (yes, inside the arena!), laser light shows, Vegas showgirls and surprises galore (remember footing expert Oliver Hoberg flying down from the arena ceiling?), everyone has special feelings about the pageantry that is the Las Vegas World Cup.

Still, with all this, it is always the competition that holds center stage and in the Finals in Las Vegas, we have seen some accomplishments as dazzling as the world-famous Las Vegas strip. When we held the first World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2000, all the talk was about whether or not Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil could achieve an unprecedented “three-peat” by winning the Final for a third consecutive year.

Rodrigo Pessoa

Rodrigo Pessoa

Pessoa and his horse, Gandini Baloubet du Rouet, pulled off a remarkable victory, a feat all the more amazing as the horse had stepped off of the plane with a 105 degree fever! Despite the added pressure, Pessoa pulled out two fault-free rounds on the final day to clinch the win and etch his name in the record books with an accomplishment that has yet to be duplicated.

In 2003, Pessoa came close to another title, but this time had to step aside for German Marcus Ehning. Entering the third and final day of competition, Malin Baryard of Sweden held first place, entering the last two rounds, as the leader always does, with a score of no faults. Ehning and Pessoa were tied for second place with two faults each. Despite the mounting pressure, Ehning and his Oldenburg mare, Anka, laid down two perfect trips while the other two each had a rail down in the first round with Baryard dropping another in the second round. Ehning thus won the first of his three World Cup championships one day after his 29th birthday. Pessoa finished in second place and Baryard was third.

In 2005, Anky van Grunsven won her record seventh World Cup Final

In 2005, Anky van Grunsven won her record seventh World Cup Final

In 2005, dressage and show jumping fans were united as the two World Cup Finals merged into one incredible equestrian event for the first time ever. Dressage’s debut in Las Vegas saw Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands win her record seventh World Cup Final (she now has won nine!) with a score of 86.725% in front of a sold-out crowd of over 11,500 people! The showstopper, however, was America’s Debbie MacDonald, riding the legendary Brentina, owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas for whom the Thomas & Mack Center is named. She rocked the house with her freestyle performance set to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The crowd was electric as Debbie paraded around the ring with an enormous grin on her face. The air in the arena was unlike anything that had been seen in dressage before.

Debbie MacDonald rocked the house!

Debbie MacDonald rocked the house!

In show jumping, California native Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany won the first of her three World Cup titles, with her husband, Marcus Beerbaum, placing 11th. Meredith claimed the win aboard her standout 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Shutterfly, who dropped only one rail through five rounds of jumping.

In 2007, Beat Mandli of Switzerland won his first World Cup Final after more than a decade of trying. Entering Sunday’s final two rounds, the top seven riders were separated by only four faults, and many believed that rookie Daniel Duesser of Germany, winner of this year’s Final in Lyon, France, would take the win. Mandli had other plans and, after a first round that saw nine of the top 10 riders incur faults, he came away with the win.

In dressage, Isabell Werth of Germany was crowned champion, riding Warum Nicht FRH to a decisive victory in front of a sellout crowd of 11,925. Werth, who had also won the World Cup title in 1992, received a dazzling score of 84.250%.  Placed first by all five judges, she was awarded two artistic scores over 90.000%, and a perfect 10 for music and interpretation, the only one in the competition to receive such marks. Imke Schellekens-Bartels of The Netherlands scored 77.950 riding Sunrise to finish second, slightly ahead of  Steffen Peters of the United States who was third on Floriano with 77.800.

Steffen Peters

Steffen Peters

In 2009, the last year the World Cup was held in Las Vegas, Peters turned the tables on Werth and claimed the dressage title. The then 44-year-old from San Diego edged Germany’s two-time champion with an inspirational performance, while Anky Van Grunsven placed third. What made Peters’s win even more exciting was that it was only the second win ever for the United States in the 23 year history of the Dressage World Cup!

In one of the closest Finals in World Cup history, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum secured her third title on Shutterfly, narrowing edging American McLain Ward on Sapphire and Holland’s Albert Zoer on Oki Doki. “Horses like Shutterfly only come along once in a lifetime,” Meredith said afterward of her longtime partner, “and I’m very lucky to have him.”

Meredith Michaels Beerbaum

Meredith Michaels Beerbaum

Full House at Vegas World Cup by KLeckIn so many ways it seems that this incredible sport we all love so much is at its best when it’sin the Las Vegas. Every time the World Cup returns, it is sure to be memorable. Well, Las Vegas, get ready ‘cause here we come again; the 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals are coming home to Vegas and promise to be more exciting than ever!

 

 

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Meet Reem Acra

Along with Longines, title sponsor of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping, next year’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas welcome another major sponsor of the FEI, Reem Acra, title sponsor of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage.

Reem Acra

Reem Acra

Reem Acra is a New York based fashion designer and equestrian sport enthusiast who is world-renown for creating unique pieces using luxurious fabrics, rich colors and textures that represent her passion and sense of style. She combines glamour with sophistication and her work appeals to the most discerning clientele from all over the world. She has dressed some of globe’s biggest celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, Halle Berry and Beyonce Knowles, as well as royal families around the world.

Reem Acra stepped into the equestrian spotlight for the first time in 2010 when she first partnered with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) as title sponsor of the Dressage World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and of the FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League and FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. The partnership proved to be very successful and Reem Acra extended her sponsorship through the 2016 World Cup Finals.

“When I took on the title sponsorship of the Western European League and the World Cup Final in 2010, I did it because I love the sport and I love horses,” said Acra. “It has proved to be a perfect match for the Reem Acra brand. The elegance of dressage reflects the passion and creativity that inspire my own designs.”

Acra understands what it takes to get to the top. While attending the American University of Beirut, Acra wore one of her creations to a party – a beautifully detailed gown she made at her mother’s dining room table. It caught the attention of a fashion editor, who then hosted a party for her, in effect launching her career in the industry. Acra then went on to study at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Esmod in Paris.

In 1997, Acra launched her bridal collection which quickly became a favorite of high-society women, as her luxurious gowns featured intricate designs and detailing. Six years later, Acra developed her ready-to-wear collection, and opened her flagship location at 14 East 60th Street off Madison Avenue in New York City. The Reem Acra brand is now carried by 150 of the world’s most exclusive retailers.

Charlotte Dujardin (right), wearing her Reem Acra dress, when she received the Reem Acra Best Athlete Award as one of five 2013 FEI Award winners. © FEI/Edouard Curchod

Charlotte Dujardin (right), wearing her Reem Acra dress, when she received the Reem Acra Best Athlete Award as one of five 2013 FEI Award winners. © FEI/Edouard Curchod

Interest in dressage is at an all-time high and the timing seems perfect for Reem Acra. New life has been breathed into the sport with young superstars setting records on an almost regular basis. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro won the individual Gold Medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games while also leading Great Britain to its first ever team Gold Medal in dressage. Dujardin also became the first-ever British rider to win the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage title at Lyon, France this past April. When Dujardin was honored as winner of the Reem Acra Best Athlete Award at the FEI General Assembly in November, 2013, she went up to the podium to receive her award wearing a gold dress created for her by Reem Acra.

“The people who participate in the sport are a mirror reflection of the women I design for,” said Acra. “I believe that this is a beautiful way to highlight the Reem Acra brand as there are great synergies between the elegance of the sport and my luxurious designs.”

The 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Las Vegas will no doubt feature the ‘best of the best’ in both fashion and equestrian sport. Don’t miss out on this exciting event!

Tickets go on sale to World Cup Club members starting on Monday, June 30. If you were a 2009 VIP and/or all-session ticket holder and haven’t received information on renewals, please email ticket_office@lasvegasevents.com today. If you haven’t been a VIP and/or all-session ticket holder, join the World Cup Club right now. There’s no cost and it takes less than a minute to join. You’ll receive the most up-to-date information on the World Cup and you’ll be first in line, after the previous ticket holders, for the best seats for next year. Join now at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/home/world_cup_club.

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Meet Longines

As we look toward next April’s FEI World Cup Finals, I thought we should take a moment to welcome the Finals’ new title sponsors—Longines in jumping and Reem Acra in dressage. Today, we’ll take a look at the growing role that Longines is playing in equestrian sports and then we’ll learn more about Reem Acra next time.

Longines, famous for the elegance, tradition, and performance of its timepieces, has been based at Saint-Imier in Switzerland since 1832. Its involvement with equestrian sports dates back to 1878 and Longines has been partnering with show jumping competitions since 1912. It was the official timekeeper at the Concours Hippique International Official (CHIO) in Geneva in 1926.

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President - Head of International Marketing of Longines

Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President and Head of International Marketing of Longines
photo (c) Bob Belpanno

In 2013, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced a new partnership with Longines, establishing the Swiss company as the FEI’s first Top Partner in a record-setting, multi-million dollar, 10-year partnership agreement. The agreement made Longines the “Official Timekeeper” and “Official Watch” of the FEI, as well as title sponsor of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Rider Rankings for Jumping, and “Official Timekeeper” of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ and of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2018 and 2022.

In show jumping, Longines is partnered with numerous CSIO and CHIO Nations’ Cup competitions, including CSIO Barcelona, the Dubai Show Jumping Championship, the President’s Cup presented by Longines, the Emirates Longines Show Jumping League, the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show, as well as title sponsor of the Global Champions Tour. Longines also signed a multi-year partnership last year with the Hampton Classic Horse Show.

Just this week it was announced that Longines is Title Partner of the first annual Los Angeles Masters, the American edition of the Masters Grand Slam Indoor, a unique global event concept, inspired by tennis. The inaugural competition will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, September 25-28, and it is slated to replicate the sensational shows at the Paris and Hong Kong Masters. The event will feature 25 of the best riders in the world competing for $1 million in prize money!

Marty Bauman and Juan-Carlos Capelli

I had the pleasure of meeting Juan-Carlos Capelli at last year’s Hampton Classic Horse Show
photo (c) Nancy Moon

Longines also has an involvement with horse racing that dates back to 1881. Their elegant chronographs were widely used by trainers, riders, bettors, and spectators to evaluate the speed of a horse. The famed Longines logo, a winged hour-glass, remains prominent at some of the most famous horse racing events around the globe including the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes which will have the attention of the entire horse world next week when California Chrome tries to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.The famed watchmaker is also prominent in the sport of endurance as the “Official Timekeeper” and partner of many prestigious events such as the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Endurance Cup and the FEI World Endurance Championships.

When you combine what Longines brings with its tradition, elegance, and performance with the excitement of world-class competition presented in a way that you find only in the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” you can be sure that the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Las Vegas will be an event for the record-books!

BTW, the renewal period for previous VIP and all-session ticket holders came to a close on May 30. Tickets will go on sale to World Cup Club members starting on Monday, June 30. If you were a 2009 VIP and/or all-session ticket holder and haven’t received information on renewals, I still recommend that you email ticket_office@lasvegasevents.com right away.

If you haven’t been a VIP and/or all-session ticket holder, join the World Cup Club right now. There’s no cost and it takes less than a minute to join. You will receive the most up-to-date information on the World Cup and you’ll be first in line, after the previous ticket holders, for the best seats for next year. Do it now at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/home/world_cup_club. Don’t wait, make sure that you are in position for the best seats available!

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John Quirk – What We Have is Thanks to Him

The 2015 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas will mark the sixth time that the Finals are being held in the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” I am often asked how the Finals came to be held in Las Vegas, which was never considered a hotbed of equestrian sports. While the road may have been long, it is easy to trace the genesis to one person who, you could say, had an idea that in many ways changed the way show jumping and dressage are presented forever!

John Quirk

John Quirk

The originator of the idea of holding show jumping’s biggest annual competition (dressage was added in 2005 after Las Vegas had successfully hosted two jumping Finals in 2000 and 2003), was John Quirk,  a west coast show jumping horse owner and breeder and publisher of the highly regarded magazine, Horses. John was deeply committed to promoting show jumping on the West Coast and to bringing a World Cup Final there. He played a major role in landing the first Final west of the eastern time zone, in Del Mar, CA in 1992, and after serving on that Final’s Organizing Committee, he moved forward on his idea of bringing the Final to Las Vegas.

John convinced the FEI that holding the Final in Las Vegas would help promote equestrian sport like never before and he then convinced the appropriate people in Las Vegas that the event would bring new audiences and revenues to the city. He believed that a World Cup Final in Las Vegas could “rock the sport and change it forever,” as he once wrote. He set about convincing others, including Max Ammann, the FEI World Cup Director; Bill Steinkraus, Chairman of the FEI World Cup Committee; key board members of Las Vegas Events, Inc., most notably Bob Maxey; and Pat Christenson, then president of the Thomas & Mack Center and now president of Las Vegas Events, Inc.

“John was the one who conceived the idea of bringing the World Cup Finals to Las Vegas and he is also the person whose efforts made it happen,” said Christenson. “It is safe to say that without John, we never would have had the Finals in Las Vegas. Everyone who cares about show jumping and dressage owes John a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

John achieved success in many careers, including as a Navy fighter pilot, novelist, horse breeder and owner, business entrepreneur and magazine publisher and editor. He was a part owner of the San Diego Chargers football team and owned an automotive engineering business in Detroit specializing in fuel converters and linear motors. He and his wife Tish, whom he married in 1968 and who was by his side the night he died in 2012 at the age of 92, ran a successful horse breeding business.

I remember John telling me how, without any tangible evidence, he just knew in his heart that Las Vegas would know how to put on the Final unlike anyone else. “It would not necessarily be better than other great horse shows, but it would be different,” he said, “radically different. It would not be a horse show, it would be a SHOW!”

He believed without reservation that it would work. His vision was to have experienced horsemen, primarily from California, produce a world-class athletic competition with Las Vegas adding the style and pizzazz for which it is so famous to produce a spectacular show. He believed that spectators would come in droves from everywhere in the world to see a great horse show in the one city that knows the meaning of the word SHOW. He knew without a doubt that a World Cup Final in Las Vegas would be an incredible success.

Well, as we all know, what John knew in his heart was absolutely the case. The initial World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2000 was such an overwhelming success that the FEI brought it back to Vegas in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 with the Dressage Final being added starting in 2005. And now, after what has seemed such a long wait, it is finally coming back again next year.  I can hardly wait!

I want to remind you all again that the renewal period for previous VIP and all-session ticket holders runs through Friday, May 30. Tickets will then go on sale to World Cup Club members starting on Monday, June 30. If you were a 2009 VIP and/or all-session ticket holder and haven’t received information on renewals, please email ticket_office@lasvegasevents.com today.

If you haven’t been a VIP and/or all-session ticket holder, join the World Cup Club right now. There’s no cost and it takes less than a minute to join. You will receive the most up-to-date information on the World Cup and you’ll be first in line, after the previous ticket holders, for the best seats for next year. Do it now at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/home/world_cup_club. Believe me, this is one event you will not want to miss!

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Dujardin and Deusser Take Titles At 2014 FEI World Cup Finals In Lyon

The 2014 FEI World Cup Finals in Dressage and Show Jumping were held April 17 – 21 in Lyon, France, and what an exciting competition it proved to be! It was the first time that France hosted the two World Cup Finals at the same venue, something that was first done in Las Vegas in 2005, and it was a resounding success.

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro won the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cupª Dressage Final in Lyon

Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro won the 2014 Reem Acra FEI World Cupª Dressage Final in Lyon
photo © FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Seventeen of the world’s best dressage horses and riders battled it out in the 29th edition of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, and it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, ranked number one in the world, and her record-setting horse Valegro, who won it all.

Dujardin, a double gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the reigning European Champion, has now become the first-ever British rider to win the coveted Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage title.

Dujardin and Valegro, who has only been competing at the Grand Prix level since 2011, set the tone for the high-stakes competition, winning the opening Grand Prix on the first day, and breaking their own world record with a score of 87.129%. In the Grand Prix Freestyle, the pair virtually brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation after their winning performance, which consisted of new music and choreography – a routine they had practiced only twice at home before arriving in Lyon. The duo earned a remarkable score of 92.179% putting them well ahead of defending champions Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW from Germany, who finished in second place with 87.339%, while Edward Gal of The Netherlands and Glocks’s Undercover took third with 83.696%.

Defending champions Helen Langehanenberg (GER) and Damon Hill NRW finish in second place

Defending champions Helen Langehanenberg (GER) and Damon Hill NRW finished in second place
photo © Dirk Caremans

Both U.S. riders, Tina Konyot and Cesar Parra, performed well at the Final, and improved their scores as the competition went on. Konyot, from Palm City, FL, rode Calecto V, her 2012 London Olympic Games and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games partner, to 11th place in the Grand Prix, scoring 70.443%. The pair scored 71.929% in the Grand Prix Freestyle and finished the competition in 12th place.

Parra, from Whitehouse Station, NJ, and Van the Man scored 65.543% in the Grand Prix for 16th place, and finished in the same spot after scoring 68.429% in the Grand Prix Freestyle. Both riders were pleased with their horses’ improved performances at the Final.

On the podium (l-r): Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), and Scott Brash (GBR)

On the podium (l-r): Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), and Scott Brash (GBR)
photo © Dirk Caremans

Having won the two previous Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals, the U.S. was hoping for a hat-trick, but it was not to be, and there were many reversal of fortunes as the competition progressed. In the end, it was Germany’s Daniel Deusser who clinched the title and took center stage on the podium after a fantastic week of competition aboard Cornet D’Amour. He finished with an overall total of two faults, edging out former World Cup Champion and countryman Ludger Beerbaum, who rode both Chaman and Chiara in different legs to finish in second place on a total of four faults. Great Britain’s Scott Brash, ranked number one in the world, and Ursula XII finished with a five-fault total to take third place.

Daniel Deusser of Germany and Cornet D'Amour take the 2014 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping title

Daniel Deusser of Germany and Cornet D’Amour take the 2014 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping title
photo © Dirk Caremans

It was tragic news for the French camp, as Patrice Delaveau, who was carrying the dream of a nation on his shoulders, looked poised to win on home soil after sharing a joint-lead on a zero score with Olympic champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland. Unfortunately he was forced to withdraw his horse Lacrimoso prior to the last phase of the Final due to a minor foot problem. France has only won the World Cup Final once during the 36-year history of the competition, and that was ten years ago, when Bruno Broucqsault and Dileme de Cephe took the coveted title in Milan, Italy. Guerdat was also edged out of the competition and was relegated to a final fifth place behind Germany’s Marcus Ehning who took fourth.

Twenty-seven of the world’s best horses and riders started in the first round of the third and final phase, with 22 riders, including seven Americans, qualifying to return for the second round. Course designer Frank Rothenberger created challenging tracks throughout the competition, which produced a shake-up in the leaderboard as the competition progressed, and only four horse-and-rider combinations produced double clears in the last round.

Defending champions Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon finished 7th in the overall standings

Defending champions Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon finished in 7th place
photo © FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst/Pool Pic

Defending champion Beezie Madden led the way for the U.S. aboard her 2013 winning partner Simon, starting the final leg with four faults, and sitting in a tie for fourth place. A rail down in the each of the first and second rounds meant the pair dropped to eventual 7th place, with a total of 12 faults.

U.S. Team veteran McLain Ward, Madden’s two-time Olympic gold medal teammate, produced one of seven clears in the first round, but unfortunately the pair had a rail down in the second, adding four faults to their score and dropping them to final 9th place with total of 17 faults. Finishing right behind in 10th place was teammate Charlie Jayne and Thatcher’s Chill R Z, completing on 23 faults.

Rounding out the top 20 for the U.S. were Katie Dinan with Nougat du Vallet, former World Cup champion Leslie Burr Howard on Tic-Tac, and Lucy Davis with Baron, finishing in 15th, 16th, and 17th places respectively. Charlie Jacobs and Flaming Star made their World Cup debut and finished in a respectable 20th place.

Kent Farrington won the second leg of the competition, and did qualify for the final phase, but decided to save Voyeur for another day and withdrew from the Final.

The 2014 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final may have only just finished in Lyon, but everyone is already looking forward to the excitement of the 2015 Finals in Las Vegas, which are only 357 days away.

Featured post

2014 FEI World Cup Finals Start The Official Countdown To Next Year’s Finals In Las Vegas

The 2014 FEI World Cup Finals are being held this week in Lyon, France and, using the model initiated in Las Vegas in 2005, feature both the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final and the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. Both promise to present equestrian sport at its best and their conclusion will start the official countdown to the long-awaited return of the World Cup Finals to Las Vegas one year from now, in April 2015.

Defending Champion Helen Langehanenberg of  Germany and Damon Hill NRW

Defending Champion Helen Langehanenberg of Germany and Damon Hill NRW (photo: Roland Thunholm/FEI)

The field for the 29th Dressage Final includes 18 horse-and-rider combinations from 11 countries. These finalists qualified from four different Leagues around the world. Heading the list are the defending World Cup champion, Helen Langehanenberg of Germany with Damon Hill NRW, and the reigning Olympic and European champion, Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain on Valegro, who holds records for the highest scores ever recorded in the Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle.

Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and Valegro (photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)

Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and Valegro (photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)

The strength of these top two contenders is reminiscent of the last decade when Any van Grunsven of The Netherlands and Isabell Werth of Germany were so dominant. Van Grunsven, who is not in this year’s Final, has won the title a record nine times including one in Las Vegas in 2005. She is the main reason why The Netherlands has the most wins of any country with 12. (Germany is second with nine.) Werth, who will ride this week on either El Santo or Don Johnson, has won the Final twice including one in Las Vegas in 2007. She has also been runner-up four times including 2009 in Las Vegas when American Steffen Peters took the title on Ravel.

The U.S. has two riders competing – Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida on Calecto V, and Cesar Parra of Whitehouse Station, NJ who will ride Van the Man. Konyot rode for the U.S. at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Parra has represented his native Colombia in the Olympics, World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and World Cup Finals. He began riding for the U.S. in 2009.

Beezie Madden of the USA and Simon (photo: Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI)

Beezie Madden of the USA and Simon (photo: Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI)

One of the big stories entering the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is whether or not the U.S. can claim a third straight win. U.S. riders dominated the early years of the World Cup Final, winning seven of the first nine. Inexplicably, it was another quarter century before a U.S. rider would win again with Rich Fellers ending the draught on Flexible in 2012. Beezie Madden made it back-to-back wins last year when she took the title on Simon.

Madden’s win last year put the U.S. in a tie with Germany for the most wins (nine) in the Final’s first 35 years. German riders have done particularly well in Las Vegas with Marcus Ehning claiming the first of his three wins there in 2003 and U.S. native Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum winning there twice for her adopted country (2005 and 2009).

Joining Madden (Cazenovia, NY), who will again ride Abigail Wexner’s Simon, in the U.S. line-up is an impressive mix of veteran and young riders with some talented horses. Included are:

  • Kent Farrington of Wellington, FL with Willow and Voyeur
  • McLain Ward of Brewster, NY with Rothchild and HH Carlos Z
  • Katie Dinan of Wellington, FL with Nougat du Vallet
  • Brianne Goutal of New York, NY with Nice de Prissey and Zernike K
  • Leslie Burr-Howard of Darien, CT, the 1986 World Cup champion, on Tic-Tac
  • Charlie Jayne of Elgin, IL with Chill R Z
  • Charlie Jacobs of Boston, MA on Flaming Star
  • Saer Coulter of San Francisco, CA with Springtime and Carmena Z
  • Ashlee Bond Clarke of Hidden Hills, CA with Chela LS and Agrostar
  • Jenni Martin-McAllister of Sun Valley, CA on Casseur de Prix
  • Lucy Davis of Los Angeles, CA on Barron
Scott Brash of Great Britain - #1 in the Longines FEI World Rider Rankings (photo:  Roger Svalsroed/FEI)

Scott Brash of Great Britain – #1 in the Longines FEI World Rider Rankings (photo: Roger Svalsroed/FEI)

With 41 riders from 20 countries competing, it will be a challenge for the Americans to pull of the “three-peat.” The Europeans have several strong contenders, including a very deep and talented German team and a two-rider British contingent featuring Scott Brash, the number one ranked rider in the Longines FEI World Rider Rankings.

We can all watch the action live as it happens on FEI TV at www.feitv.org. What will happen is impossible to predict, but the one thing we do know is that this year’s FEI World Cup Finals are guaranteed to produce incredible excitement that will whet our appetite for what lies in store one year from now in Las Vegas!

By the way, don’t miss out on your chance to assure yourself the best seats at next year’s Final in Vegas. Here’s how it’s going to work:

The renewal period for previous VIP and all-session ticket holders runs through Friday, May 30, 2014. Tickets will then go on sale to World Cup Club Members starting on Monday, June 30. If you were a 2009 VIP and/or all-session ticket holder and haven’t received information on renewals, please email ticket_office@lasvegasevents.com today. If you haven’t been a VIP and/or all-session ticket holder, join the World Cup Club right now. There’s no cost and it takes less than a minute. You will receive the most up-to-date information on the World Cup and you’ll be first in line, after the previous ticket holders, for the best seats for next year. Do it now at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/home/world_cup_club. I’d hate for you to miss out!

Featured post

FEI World Cup Finals Return to Las Vegas

The announcement last fall that the FEI World CupTM Finals are returning to Las Vegas started a buzz throughout the equestrian sports world. This marks the sixth time that Las Vegas is hosting the Finals following sensational events in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. After waiting six long years, show jumping and dressage fans around the world are more than ready!

On April 15 – 19, 2015, the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas will once again be the site of equestrian sports’ biggest annual events, the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Final and the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Final. Hold on to your hats because this is going to be a show unlike any we’ve ever seen before.

Max Ammann

Max Ammann

“Las Vegas provided to the world that you can do a different horse show than what is normally the case,” I remember Max Ammann of Switzerland, who created the World Cup Final back in 1979, saying after the first Final in Vegas in 2000. “They combined world-class sport with world-class entertainment and presented show jumping like it had never been seen before. The success of the first Las Vegas Final was a breakthrough for U.S. show jumping and I think what we saw was the future of the sport.”

Steffen Peters (USA) and Ravel after winning the FEI Dressage World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2009 (photo © Tony DeCosta)

Steffen Peters (USA) and Ravel after winning the FEI Dressage World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2009 (photo © Tony DeCosta)

Well, as always, Max was right as that certainly proved to be the case. After hosting the Jumping Final in 2000 and 2003, Las Vegas broke new ground and hosted the first-ever ‘double’ FEI World CupTM in both Jumping and Dressage. – in 2005 and like jumping before it, dressage too was never quite the same (remember Debbie McDonald and Brentina rocking a sold-out house to Aretha Franklin?). The chance to see the absolute best horses and riders in the world in a setting like no other drew unprecedented crowds that averaged more than 70,000 a year for the dual Finals in Las Vegas in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

“The previous World Cup Finals held in Las Vegas proved why the city is known as the Entertainment Capitol of the World,” said Steffen Peters of San Diego, CA, the three-time Olympic veteran who won the Dressage Final in Las Vegas in 2009. “They showcase our sport like no one else and the riders absolutely love competing there.”

Beezie Madden and Simon winning the 2013 FEI Jumping World Cup Final (photo © Cealy Tetley)

Beezie Madden and Simon winning the 2013 FEI Jumping World Cup Final (photo © Cealy Tetley)

Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and the reigning FEI World CupTM champion in jumping, agrees with Peters. “The fact that the FEI World CupTM Finals are returning to Las Vegas is great news for everyone,” she said. “I have been fortunate to compete all over the world and nowhere is our sport presented with as much flair and excitement as in Las Vegas.”

Since the first Jumping Final in 1979, US riders have won the most titles, having won the championship nine times overall including the last two years when Rich Fellers and Beezie Madden emerged victorious on Flexible and Simon respectively. The United States has won the championship in Dressage twice since the Final was first held in 1986 – in 2003 when Debbie McDonald claimed the win with Brentina and 2009 when Steffen Peters thrilled a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center with his spectacular performance on Ravel.

Full House at the Thomas & Mack Center

A full house for the FEI World Cup Final at the Thomas & Mack Center

More than 80,000 spectators are expected for next year’s event and tickets are sure to sell out fast. I encourage everyone to join the World Cup Club today to be sure you receive the latest news and information. There’s no cost and being a member will guarantee you first crack at tickets and other exclusive offers before they’re made public. Just go to www.WorldCupLasVegas.com and sign up today.

The 2015 FEI World CupTM Finals in Las Vegas are guaranteed to be a major highlight we will never forget. I look forward to seeing you there!