Las Vegas, NV – After defending Rolex FEI World Cup Champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum broke the timing beam at 32.04 seconds with Shutterfly at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final, the question remained: how do you beat this horse?
US superstar McLain Ward tried with Sapphire, the pair looked phenomenal. Foot perfect, lightning fast and with some seriously bold moves, Ward went with two remaining in the 13 horse jump-off and there was reasonable consensus that Sapphire’s effort wouldn’t be bested.
Photo Credit: Shannon Brinkman
Shutterfly had other ideas, shaving a second off of Ward’s time of 33.77 seconds, remaining perfect with zero World Cup points.
“I take my hat off to Meredith,” said Ward, not having a solution to how to beat the German pair either. “I went as fast as I possibly could. There was not one place I could have gone faster.”
Ward has had the World Cup Final date on his calendar since last year’s Olympic Games. After he and Sapphire won their second consecutive Team Gold medal, this was the next goal. Lying third after yesterday’s speed class, they moved up one spot tonight, but still have to get past Michaels-Beerbaum on Sunday afternoon. He takes two World Cup points into the finale.
“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” said Ward about his strategy for Sunday. “you don’t want to wish a mistake on anyone but…”
Shutterfly, who has won this Final twice, looks nothing close to his age of 16. The Hanoverian gelding (owned by Octavia Farms, LLC) is so fleet of foot, he seems to improve as the speed increases.
“”I’m delighted to have such a great night,” said Michaels-Beerbaum. “My wonderful horse, who is 16 going on nine. He is on great form and is happy which makes me happy.”
Photo Credit:Kit Houghton/FEI
Albert Zoer and Okie Dokie were third in the class tonight and in the World Cup points. The Dutch combination weren’t a quick enough to threaten the top two.
Of the 42 horses in the second leg of Rolex FEI World Cup Final, 13 earned the invitation to return to the jump-off by virtue of clear rounds. Five of those were Americans.
Ward (from Brewster, NY) was the last US rider in the ring in the first round and not to be outdone by his countrymates, he had another clear round on Blue Chip Bloodstock’s Sapphire. The 13-year-old Belgian mare had two light rubs, something Ward takes responsibility for.
“I rode anxiously at the beginning of the first round,” said Ward. “It was an excellent course, but it was a hard course for my horse because you were always adding, adding. I did four to the final double because I had to get off her face. That is the problem with a big slower horse, when you’re inside the jumps come up quick.”
Ward’s Gold medal teammate from both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, Beezie Madden gave 9-year-old Danny Boy an education in the Thomas & Mack arena tonight.
His veteran rider asked him some hard questions and he found a way to answer them very quickly. The Cazenovia, NY pair ended up fourth on their time of 34.83.
Richard Spooner (Aqua Dulce, CA) got the clear round ball rolling for the US in the first round. He and Cristallo lived a little dangerously down to the triple bar at fence seven but the fiery 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding made a huge effort and was rewarded with a clear first round.
Spooner’s jump-off effort explained, to anyone whop may not have realized already, why he is the ‘Master of Faster’. Starting off conservatively, he was flying by the end. Not quite fast enough tonight, the 34.87 second effort was still good enough for fifth place. Cristallo, who is owned by Show Jumping Syndications International, made three awesome efforts at the last three fences.
Rich Fellers’ first round clear wasn’t without excitement again, after nearly parting company with Flexible last night due to a momentary indecision as to which side of a Rolex clock they were going to turn, Flexible nearly jumped him out of the tack at fence five. They recovered, had a hairy ride from five, to six to seven, but Fellers never gave up and Harry and Mollie Chapman’s Flexible (an Irish Sport Horse stallion) never stopped trying.
His luck ran out in the jump-off when he had the third fence down. He was lighting fast but had to settle for eighth place with four faults.
Hillary Dobbs, who at 21, is the youngest rider in the entire competition jumped a great first round clear on The Dobbs’ Group’s Quincy B. Dobbs (Sussex, NJ) rode an exciting round and the 13-year-old Holsteiner tried as hard as he could at every move.
She rode confidently into the jump-off but fell victim to the second part of the combination and ended up with four faults for 11th.
The World Cup Final concludes on Sunday afternoon, with the top 2/3 of the class (30 riders) jumping for the title of World Cup Champions. In the World Cup format, points are converted back into faults for the third class.
Jumping competition begins at 12.00 and is the finale of the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final.
The rest of the American placings in today’s class are as follows:
14thT: Todd Minikus and Pavarotti (27 World Cup points)
Mandy Porter and San Diego (18 World Cup points)
Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 (23 World Cup points)
Christine McCrea and Vegas (19 World Cup points)
31stT: Michelle Spadone and Melisimo
Danielle Torano and Vancouver d’Auvrey
Spadone and Torano did not make the top 2/3 of the class to qualify for Sunday so they both, and Kent Farrington will jump tomorrow in the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui retired after fence two, Up Chiqui simply wasn’t himself when he came in the ring.
The Dressage finale: the Freestyle, crowns the World Cup champ, with 11 horses going forward from the first Qualifier.
For complete results and more information and World Cup Points, please see: www.lasvegasworldcup.com.