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.
“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.”
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 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.
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!