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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!