Category Archives: Horse Jumping

Photo Credit: Noëlle Floyd

Richard Spooner – The “Master of Faster” Focusing on Las Vegas

Richard Spooner, known throughout the show jumping world as the “Master of Faster,” has been one the United States’ biggest show jumping stars for decades. (No, Richard, I’m not calling you old!) Spooner’s resumé, from his days as a young rider to his highly-successful career as a professional, is filled with awards, championships and Grand Prix victories.

A familiar name on the FEI World Cup™ circuit, Spooner has competed in an amazing 15 World Cup Finals, including five in Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009).  He competed at his first Final ever in 1998 in Helsinki, Finland, where he was the top U.S. finisher, coming home in fourth place overall.

The West Coast-based Spooner, whose most recent trip to the Finals was last year in Paris, currently holds the pole position for next April’s Final in Las Vegas as he leads the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American Western Sub-League with 49 points. He has made it clear that he would love a spot in the line-up when the Finals return to Las Vegas next year!

A force to be reckoned with in every event he enters, the 48 year-old Spooner has finished in the top-six in four World Cup qualifiers this season. He took fourth place on “Quirado RC” at both the Las Vegas CSI4*-W and Thermal CSI3*-W qualifiers, and sixth place at the Del Mar CSI3*-W qualifier. Spooner also took fifth place with “Quitana II” at the Sacramento CSI3*-W qualifier.

Spooner has represented the U.S. on numerous Nations Cups teams over the years. He was an integral part of the U.S. show jumping team that clinched the silver medal at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico at Coapexpan in May, and the bronze medal at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Canada at Thunderbird Show Park in British Columbia just this past weekend. Spooner and “Quirado RC” jumped double clear at both events (although they incurred two time penalties in Mexico) and due in no small part to their efforts, the U.S. has secured a spot at the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona Spain next fall!

Tickets

Starting July 1 and running through August 15, members of the World Cup Club will have an exclusive opportunity to purchase All-Session Tickets. It’s free to become a World Cup Club member, so don’t delay, sign up right now! You’ll have first choice on the best available seats, and also get the latest news, ticket and hotel information. Join NOW at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

Further ticket information for the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas will be announced later this year. Everyone is encouraged to visit the event’s official website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com and sign up for the latest news and information for FREE at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

The FEI World Cup™ Finals are the most prestigious individual annual championships for jumping and dressage and the 2020 Finals in Las Vegas will be nothing short of extraordinary.  The world’s supreme equestrian athletes in two Olympic disciplines will be there on April 15-19, 2020. I hope you will join me – and hopefully, Richard Spooner – in the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for what will surely be the most exciting event of the year!

Riders Around the World are Excited About the FEI World Cup™ Finals’ Return to Las Vegas

The FEI World Cup™ Finals are the most prestigious individual annual championships for jumping and dressage and the excitement that the Finals are returning to Las Vegas next April is already building among all those looking to attend – including the top riders from around the world!

Show jumping superstar Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands is one of those enthusiastic competitors who have their sights set on a spot in the 2020 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas. A world-class rider with numerous international victories under his belt, the 39-year old Smolders is currently ranked third in the Longines FEI World Rider Rankings.

Smolders has competed at five FEI World Cup™ Finals including the 2016 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden where he placed second to Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat who made it two in a row following his win the previous year in Las Vegas. Smolders’ mount at that 2016 Final was the chestnut Belgium Warmblood, stallion, Emerald, a horse he went on to ride at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Smolders also won the individual Silver medal at the 2017 European Championships and he has competed at two FEI World Equestrian Games, both of which, coincidentally, were held in the U.S. – 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky and 2018 in Tryon, North Carolina. To say that he likes riding in the U.S. is probably an understatement!

Last month, Smolders was part of the winning European team in the Riders Cup at the 2019 Longines Masters of New York. Similar to golf’s Ryder Cup, the Longines Masters’ Riders Cup matches teams from Europe and the United States and this year, for the second straight year, Team Europe came out on top. Two days after helping Europe win the team event, Smolders took second place in the $400,000 Longines Grand Prix of New York riding Une de l’Othain, an 11-year-old Selle Francais mare owned by his student, Jennifer Gates, and her Evergate Stables LLC.

The 2020 FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas are going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen. The Finals will feature the world’s best riders and horses in both jumping and dressage, dazzling entertainment, culinary delights and incredible shopping. The world’s top riders have highlighted the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas on their calendars and you should too!  Join us at the Thomas & Mack Center in the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” April 15-19, 2020.  Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!

Tickets

The exclusive renewal period for 2015 All-Session Ticket holders began on April 15 and ends on May 31. If you had an All-Session ticket in 2015 and haven’t yet renewed, send an email today to ticketoffice@LasVegasEvents.com!

Starting July 1 and running through August 15, members of the World Cup Club will have the next exclusive opportunity to purchase All-Session Tickets. It’s free to become a World Cup Club member, so sign up now! You’ll have first choice on the best available seats, and also get the latest news, ticket and hotel information. Join NOW at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

Further ticket information for the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas will be announced later this year. Everyone is encouraged to visit the event’s official website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com and sign up for the latest news and information for FREE at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

Newly Dressed and Ready to Impress: Not Your Same Old Thomas & Mack

The FEI World Cup™ Finals are like no other equestrian event and Las Vegas is like no other place. Next April will mark the seventh time that the “Entertainment Capital of the World” will host the World Cup Finals. In an exciting turn of events, the 2020 Finals are not just back in Las Vegas, but also back at a newly-renovated Thomas & Mack Center. It’s going to be quite different. It’s not your same old Thomas & Mack. The venue has had a major facelift and the Finals are going to be bigger and more spectacular than ever before!

FEI20_TnM GroundsTurn of Events

In November 2016, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced that the combined Finals would return to Las Vegas in 2020, but at a different venue – the MGM Grand Garden Arena. At the time, the Thomas & Mack Center was undergoing major renovations. Some scheduling conflicts arose at the new venue, and so it was later decided that the 2020 Finals would return to Thomas & Mack. It will be great for everyone – riders, officials, sponsors, vendors and, most importantly, spectators!

Tremendous Transformation

The Thomas & Mack Center underwent a two-year overhaul with $75 million of renovations and improvements. Upgrades include enhanced stabling for the horses, new arena seats, new entrances and escalators, upgraded concessions and restrooms, new floors and additional ADA seating, plus improvements to the sound system – fantastic news for the Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle to Music (which, by the way, returns to its former Saturday evening place on the schedule)!

Strip Pavilion insideVIP ticket holders are in for an absolutely amazing experience. The event’s VIP Hospitality Center – The Taylor Harris Club presented by Lugano Diamonds – will be in the stunning new Strip View Pavilion, a 36,000 square-foot, two-story VIP event space.  VIPs will have access to all the bells-and-whistles including luxurious surroundings, culinary delights and cool cocktails. The new outdoor patio overlooks the stabling area and offers phenomenal views of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip!

World Class Competition, Shopping, Entertainment, Dining and more

The FEI World Cup™ Finals are the biggest annual individual championships for jumping and dressage riders.  The biggest names in the sport, including Olympic, World, European, Pan American and World Cup champions, will come from all four corners of the globe to battle it out. The competition will be thrilling to say the least! The shopping will be superb with hundreds of vendors on-site, and there will be a huge variety of dining options. On top of that, the special events and entertainment throughout the Finals will be incredible and memorable – all done with that world-famous ‘Las Vegas style’ of course!

The Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas will be the place to be on April 15-19, 2020.  Exclusive All-Session Ticket offers began on April 15. These apply to either jumping or dressage or for combined packages including both disciplines.

  • From April 15 – May 31, 2019, All-Session Ticket holders from 2015 have the first chance to order All-Session tickets for 2020 during an exclusive renewal period. Previous All-Session ticket holders who have not received information by mail or email should send an email to ticketoffice@LasVegasEvents.com.
  • Starting July 1 and continuing through August 15, members of the World Cup Club will have the next exclusive opportunity to purchase All-Session Tickets. It’s FREE to become a World Cup Club member, so be sure to sign up now to have first choice on the best available seats, and also to get the latest news, ticket and hotel information. Join NOW at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

Further ticket information for the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas will be announced later this year. Everyone is encouraged to visit the event’s official website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com and sign up for the latest news and information for FREE at www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club.

Mark your calendars now, get your tickets and book your flights and hotel for this world-class event. I’m looking forward to seeing you at the new and improved Thomas & Mack Center next year!

Longines Masters New York 2019

It was an exciting week of show jumping at the second annual Longines Masters Cup New York (April 25-28, 2019), as five-member teams from Europe and the U.S. went head-to-head in the Riders Masters Cup. ‘Riders Europe,’ including Harrie Smolders (NED), Pius Schwizer (SUI), Darragh Kenny (IRL), Olivier Philippaerts (BEL), and Edward Levy (FRA) successfully defended their title in a nail-biting finish against ‘Riders USA,’ consisting of Olympic gold medalist and 2017 FEI World Cup™ champion McLain Ward; 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games gold medalist Devin Ryan; FEI World Cup Final competitors Kristen Vanderveen and Laura Chapot; and Under 25 star Lillie Keenan. Egypt’s Nayel Nassar made history at the event as the first rider to win both the Longines Speed Challenge and the $400,000 Longines Grand Prix of New York at the same event, and he also did it with the same horse, “Lucifer V.” We hope to welcome these riders at the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas!

Guerdat is Golden at the LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg

The Scandinavium Arena was sold out on the final day of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg. That’s 12,000 seats filled with nervous excitement and anticipation. The atmosphere was electric. Each spectator dared to not move, whisper, or blink as each competitor contested two jump rounds at 1.60m designed by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela. No stranger to pressure, the current FEI World Rank No. 1 show jumper, Steve Guerdat, soared over the final 12-obstacle course to win his third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title.

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Steve Guerdat, Peder Fredricson and Martin Fuchs 📸 Credit: FEI Liz Gregg

This was lucky trip number 13 to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals for Guerdat. Winning his first World Cup in Las Vegas in 2015 and again in 2016 in Gothenburg, Switzerland’s Olympic veteran Steve Guerdat and Alamo, the black 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Patricio Pasquel Quintana held onto a podium finish throughout the entire competition. The last to go in the final round, Guerdat and Alamo raced the clock with 68 seconds allowed and no rails in hand. As the last fence combination marked the downfall of so many, Guerdat and Alamo cleared them with ease ending their time in Gothenburg as champion with just two penalty points.

“I was a bit unsure going to the Final today as this is his (Alamo’s) first championship and I was a little nervous on Friday after the speed class, but in the end, he has been amazing all week”, said Guerdat.

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Steve Guerdat 📸 Credit: FEI Liz Gregg

A reminiscent Guerdat recalls his World Cup journey. “When I was young I used to dream of winning the World Cup, and when I finished second twice I wondered if it would ever happen. So when I won in 2015 (Las Vegas) it was very special, and to win here in Gothenburg the next year was even better, because this is such a great show, the crowd is like nowhere else and the atmosphere is unbelievable. To win three times, and to do it in Gothenburg again today, this makes me very proud!”

Fellow Swiss rider and Olympic veteran Martin Fuchs piloted Clooney 51, the sure-footed 13-year-old Westphalian gelding, in a tense second round. Fuchs only had one point separating him from the leader, Guerdat. The momentum of Fuchs and Clooney 51 never waned as they came barreling down to the last few fences, an imposing Longines wall to a large oxer combination to the final vertical. Fuchs completed the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg with three penalties securing his spot on the podium behind is mentor for second place.

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Martin Fuchs 📸 Credit: FEI Liz Gregg

Fuchs now has finished second in two major events, last year’s World Championship and the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final, Fuchs noted “If I have to be beaten it’s great if Steve wins, he is my friend and training partner. Clooney was amazing, he jumped both rounds easy, he is one of the best horses in the world. Two times second place is already a great achievement, and I am already looking forward to the European Championships this summer!”

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Peder Fredricson 📸 Credit: FEI Liz Gregg

The reigning European champion and hometown hero, Sweden’s Olympic veteran Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S, the striking grey 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood owned by Ebba Berglöf, were foot-perfect. Consistently ranked in the top three, there was not enough of a gap to relax between fourth place finisher Germany’s Daniel Duesser who posted a double clear round. Strategic speed and stride management cemented Fredricson’s final round going double clear with a final score of five penalty points for third place.

The defending World Cup champion from the U.S., Olympic veteran Beezie Madden and her 13-year-old stallion Breitling LS, were efficient throughout the entire competition. It was, however, not their week for a back-to-back World Cup victory as a bogie fence in each round cost them a spot in the top three. Beezie and Breitling LS concluded the competition with a total of 11 penalty points for sixth place. They were the highest placed U.S. combination.

Final Results: https://results.hippodata.de/2019/1638/docs/jwcf_got_2019_-_final_standings_-_confirmed.pdf

Queen of Dressage Isabell Werth Retains Her Crown at the 2019 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg

To say the pressure was on as the last six riders of the 2019 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg prepared for the Freestyle would be inaccurate. It was intense. It was everything a World Cup Championship should be. Each movement shuffled the leaderboard. Each centerline was energized by the crowds applause pushing horse and rider to perform their very best until the final salute.

In the end, it was the multiple Olympic, World Cup, and World Equestrian Games (WEG) champion Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD from Germany who would be crown the victor. The duo looked determined as they performed their freestyle, attempting perfection to replace USA’s Laura Graves from the top. A bobble in Werth’s one-tempi changes in a very technical test cost them a final mark in the 90% range. However, their test was enough to move them into first with 88.871%. This was Werth’s fifth World Cup and third consecutive World Cup win with Weihegold OLD, the 14-year-old Oldenburg owned by Christine Arns-Krogmann.

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Isabell Werth 📸 Credit: FEI Christophe Taniere

“I could take all the risks at extended canter and the pirouettes were great. We could not have been better,” said Werth. Noting the slight miscommunication in the one-tempi changes Werth remarked “I was arrogant there, so that was my fault! I love what I do, and this is what keeps me so competitive!”

Entering the centerline to the theme of Rudy, USA’s Olympic and WEG veteran Laura Graves with her own and Curt Maes’ 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood Verdades, threw down the gauntlet for Werth to chase. As the second U.S. rider to go, the pair earned the first 10 of the day on their half-pass movement. “Diddy” and Graves were picture and foot-perfect earning a final score of 87.179 % to take the lead. In the end, a slightly more technical ride from Werth separated first and second place by only 1.692 percentage points moving Graves into second.

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Laura Graves 📸 Credit: FEI Liz Gregg

“My horse (Verdades) likes his job and never puts a foot wrong when I ride him, although at the barn he knows he’s the boss,” said Graves. “He was so rideable today; the crowd was amazing, and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as me!”

Sweeping the third podium spot in a dramatic way, Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg aboard Damsey FRH, the 17-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Louise Leatherdale & Susanne Meyer, were the last combination to go in the Scandinavium Arena. Producing a forward test, the pair quickly ticked off each box climbing the leaderboard. During their test, it was evident Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH were feeling the atmosphere and decided to go all in on their last centerline. Damsey FRH’s final movement, the extended trot, was so bold and powerful traveling to the judges booth at “C”, their final halt was within centimeters of the boards earning an 86.571%.

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Helen Langehanenberg 📸 Credit: Charlie Crowhurst Getty Images

“I am thankful and really proud of him,” said Langehanenberg. “The clapping motivated him at the end of the test, and I think he would have been quite happy to start all over again!”

Friday’s Grand Prix podium finisher, WEG veteran Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Blue Hors Zack, the 15-year-old Stallion owned by the Blue Hors Aps from Denmark, were a favorite in the Freestyle. After producing an efficient and lovely test, the pair earned an 85.468 % to place them in third with four riders left to go. It wasn’t until Langehanenberg concluded her test that Andersen and “Zack” moved in to fourth.

The Olympic and World Cup veteran contingent representing the U.S. of Laura Grave’s with Verdades, Adrienne Lye with Salvino and Kasey Perry-Glass with Goerklintgaards Dublet were a force throughout the competition. Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, the 16-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding, produced a brilliant freestyle earning fifth place with an 84.975%. Lyle and Salvino, the 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Betsy Julian LLC, beautifully danced with Lyle to a personal best of 81.832% for seventh at the 2019 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals Gothenburg.

Full Results: https://www.longinestiming.com/#!/equestrian/2019/1638/html/en/longinestiming/resultlist_D02.html

Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S Soar to Victory at the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals

The excitement on the second day of competition at the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals was palpable as 32 combinations made quick, nail-biting decisions to climb the leaderboard to victory. Course designer Santiago Varela once again challenged riders at 1.60m. The hometown favorite and reigning European champion Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S dominated the class and jump-off for the win.

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Peder Fredricson

The first-round winner, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, said today’s second competition at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2019 in Gothenburg would shake up the leaderboard, he wasn’t wrong. A single mistake made in today’s class placed Guerdat into Sunday’s two-round title-decider in third on the leaderboard, two points behind Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar who leads in the standings and a single point behind Peder Fredricson who delivered a sensational home victory this evening.

Sweden’s Olympic veteran Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S, the bold grey 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood owned by Ebba Berglöf, were one of only eight combinations to post a clear round advancing them into the jump-off clocking a blazing 37.94 seconds.

After Thursday’s competition, Fredricson looked forlorn after finishing in eleventh place with H&M All In. However tonight’s victory with the aptly-named grey, Catch Me Not, has changed everything. “I was so disappointed yesterday and was not expecting to win today”, said Fredricson. “So I’m really happy tonight!”

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Alvarez Aznar 📸 Credit: FEI/Liz Gregg

Riding for Spain, Olympic veteran Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, left nothing to chance in the ring with Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot once the clock began to count down. The 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding continued to make quick work of the track and finishing the jump-off on 37.97 seconds and no rails. This dynamic duo has zero penalties and is poised to win the final.

“Going into the jump-off I felt it was safer to be in the top places for the final on Sunday so I didn’t risk it all”, said Aznar. “I was not expecting to be leading tonight but to have a good round. My horse is not the fastest but he is very consistent”. Aznar finished sixth at last year’s Longines Final in Paris (FRA) and who now has the best of the draw for Sunday’s finale. “I want to be on the podium of a Championship and I am now in a good position but I have to stay focused and have a good ride on Sunday”, he added.

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Max Kuhner 📸 Credit: FEI/Liz Gregg

Rounding out the top three of the day, Max Kühner of Austria and his own Chardonnay 79 demonstrated a true partnership as the 12-year-old Holsteiner sailed over the course with care to lead the way against the clock and set a sensible target posting a clear round in 39.44 seconds.

“First to go is never easy”, said Kühner. “As my horse is not really a naturally fast horse, the strategy was to be fast enough and clear”.

Moving up the leaderboard, defending champion and U.S. Olympic veteran Beezie Madden and her 13-year-old stallion Breitling LS, once again made the course look easy. Posting the fastest round of the day Madden and Breitling LS secured a place in the jump-off, however the last fence once again proved problematic. Adding a rail, Madden and Breitling LS are still in contention moving up from tenth to a tied-fourth place in the overall rankings alongside Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels and Olivier Philippaerts and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs. A single fence separates Poland’s Jaroslaw Skrzyczynski and the top of the leaderboard.

28 of the original 33 combinations will move forward in Sunday’s final round of the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals in Gothenburg.

Standings after Competition 2 here: https://results.hippodata.de/2019/1638/docs/jwcf_got_2019_-_standings_after_wcf_ii_-_confirmed.pdf

📸 Credit: FEI/Liz Gregg & Christophe Taniere