The stage is set and it’s all-systems-go at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas, USA where the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015 Finals get underway on Thursday. All horses passed their veterinary inspections today, and even that provided entertainment with some over-exuberant equines giving their handlers a hard time. Age is no barrier to naughty behaviour as Morgan Barbacon’s 18-year-old stallion, Painted Black, demonstrated when breaking free and going for a quick gallop around the ring before regaining his decorum. And there were plenty of high-jinks from the jumpers too, although Rich Fellers’ 19-year-old stallion, Flexible, was as relaxed as it is possible to be.
There is huge anticipation of a great week ahead, and tomorrow is dedicated to warm-up classes before the excitement goes into over-drive with a rapid-fire opening day on Thursday when the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix gets the action underway at 12 noon and the opening competition of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping takes place at 19.00 local time.
Early on Friday morning the Dressage riders and horses have the opportunity to rehearse their Freestyle, and at 19.00 the second Jumping competition take place. Saturday brings the much-anticipated Freestyle, which will bring the Reem Acra Final to a close, starting at 12 noon. And then on Sunday the new Longines Jumping champion will be crowned following the top-30 Final.
Defending Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion, Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, reports that her super-star gelding, Valegro, is feeling the heat a little. “The temperature has definitely hit him, he doesn’t have long to acclimatise before he starts to compete but it’s great to be here and taking part in this show in the middle of the desert! He’s flown well and the last two days we gave him some easy time, not too much work. He’s gone from winter at home to this incredible heat, and I’m hoping he’s not suffering from jet-lag!” she said. It has been windy and sunny today in the entertainment capital of the world, with the barometer showing a temperature of 85 degrees at 15.30 local time.
The Thomas & Mack Arena presents many challenges for equestrian competitions due to its unusual shape and size. It regularly hosts concerts and sporting fixtures, including boxing, football and basketball tournaments. “It’s a bit like a huge lunge-pen!” Dujardin said today, “I’m told it’s bigger than Olympia (London) but it doesn’t feel like it, maybe it’s because the seats rise so high around the ring. How are they going to fit seven judges in there?” she asked with a laugh. “It will be my first time to start my test inside the arena so that should be interesting too!” she added.
It is always a big test for the course designer too, but America’s Anthony D’Ambrosio knows what’s expected because he also presented the tracks for the 2009 FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Las Vegas. He’s been an FEI 4* course designer for over 10 years and is a double-recipient of the USHJA Course Designer of the Year Award.
Defending Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Germany’s Daniel Deusser, said today that the size of the arena is not a problem for him or for Cornet D’Amour. In fact he’s feeling pretty upbeat about his chances of doing the double this week and walking away with that coveted Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy for the second year in a row.
“For my horse it’s not a disadvantage. In a small arena the fences come up very fast but he’s so rideable and has a great technique. I’ve had good results with him in small indoor arenas and big ones too, and recently he was fantastic in Doha (QAT) and in Den Bosch (NED) so I’ve got a great feeling with him right now. I don’t want to say that I’m going to win again, but I’m feeling really confident!”
It’s going to be a thriller from start to finish, so don’t miss a hoof-beat. If you can’t be there, then watch all the action LIVE on FEI TV!!
Things to know about the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final:
A total of 45 Jumping horses were presented at the first veterinary inspection at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas today and were passed fit to compete.
4 riders presented two horses each - Kevin Staut (FRA), Katie Laurie (NZL), Kirsten Coe (USA) and Vinton Karrasch (USA).
Following the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Alsharbatly, the starting field for the Final is reduced to 41 riders.
The draw for order-of-go in Thursday’s first competition will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.
Course designer is America’s Anthony d’Ambrosio.
In the 37-year history of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals, a total of 496 riders from 53 nations have competed.
The USA holds the record for the greatest number of riders attending the Finals, with a total of 113. The country with the next highest number is Germany with a total of 48.
Austria’s Hugo Simon was the first winner of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at the inaugural Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1979. Riding Gladstone, he came out on top in a two-way jump-off against America’s Katie Monahan and The Jones Boy.
Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker holds the record for the greatest number of attendances at the Final. He competed on 23 occasions but never won the title.
Defending champion is Germany’s Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour).
Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Singular LS La Silla) is bidding to become the first-ever rider to win the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title for the fourth time.
There are three competitions to decide the Longines FEI World Cup™ 2014/2015 champion:
Competition 1 is a Speed class, with seconds added for knockdowns.
Competition 2 is one round against the clock, and one jump-off which is also against the clock. Results are then converted into points which are carried into the third and last competition.
Competition 3 is two rounds of jumping over a Grand Prix course of fences between 1.50m and 1.60m in height. The top 30 horse-and-rider combinations are eligible to compete but only 20 go through to the second round. The leading rider after the first two competitions goes last, and starts on a zero score.
Total prizemoney for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final is €1.3m.
Ground Jury: Kim Morris (CAN) President, David Distler (USA), Neil O’Connor (USA), Jack Robson (USA), Sven Holmberg (SWE). Technical Delegate Leopoldo Palacios (VEN).
Things to know about the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final:
A total of 18 horses were presented at the first veterinary inspection in the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas today and all were passed fit to compete.
The draw for order-of-go in Thursday’s first competition, the Grand Prix, will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.
The new champion will be crowned following the second competition, the Grand Prix Freestyle, which take place at 12 noon on Saturday 18 April.
What the judges are looking for, as explained by Stephen Clarke (GBR), FEI 5* judge,
“exciting, expressive Dressage, but with the horse completely in harmony with the rider. The energy, so beautiful to watch, comes from impulsion as opposed to tension.”
Ground Jury: Lilo Fore (USA) President, Stephen Clarke (GBR), Francis Verbeek (NED), Peter Holler (GER), Hans Christian Matthiesen (DEN), Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus (SWE), Maria Schwennesen (AUS). Technical Delegate Freddy Leyman (BEL).
Denmark’s Anne-Grethe Jensen was the first winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. Riding Marzog, she pinned Great Britain’s Christopher Bartle and Wily Trout into runner-up spot while Switzerland’s Christine Stuckelberger finished third with Rubelit von Unkelruf at the inaugural event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands in 1986.
Defending champions are the double Olympic gold medallists and multiple world-record holders, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro from Great Britain.
This is the 30th anniversary FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, and the fifth time for the event to take place in the USA.
Los Angeles hosted the Final in 1995, and it has subsequently been staged in Las Vegas in 2005, 2007, 2009 and again this year.
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Tickets for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015 Finals have been sold in all 50 states in the USA and in 30 countries around the world.
Thursday April 16:
Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix - 12 noon
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 1 - 19.00
Friday April 17:
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2 - 19.00
Saturday April 18:
Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle Final - 12 noon
Sunday April 19:
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 3 - 12 noon.