On a day that saw many of the world’s top horses and riders go head to head at the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, defending champions Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro (Negro x Gerschwin) shrugged off the pressure that comes with being the world’s number one combination and did what everyone expected them to do. They handily won the Grand Prix, with the 13-year-old Dutch gelding showing little evidence of the jet lag that had affected him after his arrival in Las Vegas. Their score of 85.414 percent was a few points shy of their world record-setting score of 87.460, but Dujardin was pleased nevertheless. “It’s just a mass of excitement for me to come here and take part,” she said. “Las Vegas is everything I thought it would be."
As Edward Gal and Edward Gal Glock’s Undercover began their piaffe/passage part of the Grand Prix test, Axel Steiner, doing the commentary for the headsets provided at the venue, he said simply, "This is where dressage becomes an art form."
Gal, of the Netherlands continued his forward momentum with the 14-year-old Dutch warmblood Glock’s Undercover (Ferro x Donnerhall), earning a score of 79.057 percent for second. Now in their third year together, the pair was a crowd favorite, garnering enthusiastic cheers throughout the Thomas & Mack Center. After the long flight from Europe and the time in quarantine, Gal was unsure how the Grand Prix would go. “To come here was quite difficult… and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Gal, who added that competing in such a charged environment was good for the sensitive gelding. “I’m very happy with him.”
Third place winner Steffen Peters, who won the 2009 World Cup final in Las Vegas on Ravel, was delighted with the performance of Akiko Yamazaki’s Legolas, who appeared noticeably calm throughout the test.
Due to the size of the arena, there is no way to enter at C, so competitors actually rode their approach in the ring, making a few rounds, then turning down the center line. Peters and Legolas did their signature "long and low" realxed and hppy before making the turn to begin their test. The pair earned a 76.843 percent, which Peters said he believed was a consequence of his extensive preparation using sound files of cheering to acclimate the 13-year-old Westfalen gelding (Laomedon x Florestan II) to the intense indoor environment of the Thomas & Mack.
Since all 18 riders from the Grand Prix will advance to the Freestyle on Saturday, they’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. Asked how he’d spend his free time, Gal smiled and said he was going to see Diana Ross perform, while Peters quipped that wife Shannon had quashed his plan to see Britney Spears sing at the Planet Hollywood Resort.
Charlotte Dujardin is planning on some "girlie" shopping.