Omaha, Nebraska - The much anticipated FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017 celebrated its first day with fans filling the CenturyLink Center. Spectators had the opportunity to watch demonstrations in the Colorado State Demonstration arena as well as show jumpers and dressage horse training in the main arena. More than 140 vendors were open for business offering everything for the horse enthusiast. The Tailgate Lounge was hopping with live music throughout the day.
The Finals, featuring the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final and the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, are set to begin on Thursday, March 30. The Dressage Grand Prix competition begins at 2:00 p.m. The first round of jumping takes place in the evening at 7:00 p.m.
Spectators caught their first glimpse of the world-class riders and horses in the training sessions for both dressage and jumping. They were also able to get "up close and personal" to watch riders in the warm-up area outside the main arena. Among those practicing for the jumping session was two-time Pan American Games bronze medalist Todd Minikus (USA) riding Babalou, owned by Jack Snyder and Two Swans Farm.
"I was really happy with the way my horse went today," said Minikus. "Everything here looks fantastic and there's no doubt that Omaha is ready for the World Cup.™"
Local resident Janine Weatherby came to the CenturyLink Center, along with students from her Phoenix Equestrian Center who are volunteering for the event. "We have been waiting for years for the World Cup™ to come to Omaha. It's very exciting that such a significant equestrian event has come to our community," said Weatherby. "It's so great that you can just walk off the street and watch the riders warm up before they compete. Even if you don't know anything about horses you can really have a fun time."
In the afternoon, the dressage horses were presented for the horse inspection. A total of 16 horses from 13 countries came forward including the mount for 2010 FEI World Cup™ Champion Edward Gal (NED), Glock's Voice, owned by Gaston Glock. "My horse feels good and I am really excited to be here," said Gal. "The arena looks great, there is a lot of space to ride, it is great for the horses, great for the riders, and it looks like it will be a fabulous place for the World Cup™."
Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is an annual international showdown among the world's best show jumping horses and riders. In the 38 Finals held through 2016, Germany (10) and the United States (9) have emerged with the most titles, having won the championship nineteen times between them. Previous FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals held in the United States include Baltimore (1980), Tampa (1989), Del Mar, CA (1992) and Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015).
First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final features the world's best dressage horses and riders. The United States has won the championship twice - in 2003 (Debbie McDonald with Brentina) and 2009 (Steffen Peters with Ravel). The Final has been held in the U.S. in Los Angeles (1995) and Las Vegas (2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015).
For more information about the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017 and to purchase tickets, please go to www.OmahaWorldCup2017.com.