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.
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.
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.
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 .
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!