Lexington, KY- The United States will have strong representation in Germany for the 2011 FEI World Cup Finals (April 27-May 1), with 20 of the country's best riders ready to leave their mark on Leipzig. For the first time the World Cup Finals in dressage, driving, jumping and vaulting will all be held under one roof, with the US sending competitors to vie for top honors in the dressage and jumping. The US will also use the Leipzig Exhibition Hall to showcase up-and-coming jumping riders in the European Youngster Cup Finals and the CSI3*.
With three riders competing in the 2011 Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final, the US is poised to excel on the world stage. The American effort will be led by Catherine Haddad and her own Winyamaro. Based in Germany, the pair punched their ticket to the Finals by finishing fifth in the Western European League, which is widely known as the toughest Reem Acra World Cup Qualifying League.
California's Jan Ebeling returns to World Cup stage with his partner from the 2009 Finals, Raflaca. The pair won most recently at the Festival of the Horse CDI-W in March. Shawna Harding and Come On III make their FEI World Cup Final debut, they look to capitalize on the consistent form they displayed throughout the winter season. Under the guidance of Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons, these three riders will compete in a field of 18 competitors from 11 countries, including former FEI World Cup Champions Edward Gal, Isabel Werth and Ulla Salzgeber.
USEF Chef d'Equipe George Morris, leads 10 of the country's top show jumping riders to the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final to take on 43 competitors from 21 countries. Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, teammates on both the 2004 and 2008 gold medal-winning Olympic Games teams, head the US charge. Madden brings Danny Boy, her 2009 Finals' partner, and newest star Coral Reef Via Volo to Leipzig. Antares F and Rothchild will look to step into the limelight for Ward on jumping's largest stage.
US veteran Margie Engle is poised to make a splash as she returns to the FEI World Cup Finals with the exciting grey gelding Indigo. While fellow East Coast League qualifier, Kirsten Coe, makes her debut with fiancé Ilan Ferder's Tristan.
The US will have strong representation from the West Coast, with veterans Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner making return trips to the Finals. Fellers and Flexible (runners-up in 2008) once again topped the West Coast League Standings and return to the Finals for the fifth consecutive year. Spooner makes his 13th FEI World Cup Final appearance and once again rides Cristallo.
Youth prevails for the rest of the US Team: four of the US competitors are all under the age of 30. Michelle Spadone, Charlie Jayne, Brianne Goutal and Ashlee Bond (as well as McLain Ward) are all former recipients of the Maxine Beard Award, an honor the USET Foundation bestows annually for a rider's promise in the future of show jumping. Goutal and Bond make their second trip to the Finals, while Spadone returns for the third consecutive year. Jayne makes his inaugural trip but looks ready for a strong showing, after successfully spending the winter jumping in Florida and California.
The US looks to knock the home country off the top of the pedestal as Germans have claimed top honors for the past three years.
For the first time, the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final will also feature the EY Cup, giving six of America's top Young Riders a chance to go head-to-head against their peers. Reed Kessler, Charlotte Jacobs, Caitlin Ziegler and Katie Dinan all qualified for the EY Cup by jumping successfully in the Artisan Farms Young Rider Grand Prix Series. After jumping successfully at HITS Thermal in California, Cayla Richards and Audrey Coulter qualified from the West Coast.
Kessler, Dinan and Coulter are all medalists at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North.
In Leipzig, Jacobs will ride the veteran Promise Land, a horse that represented the US on FEI Nations Cup teams. While Ziegler takes VDL Groep Camara, the mare she contested her first Grand Prix with. Richards heads to Germany as the top qualifier from the West Coast.
2009 Youngster Cup winner, Lucy Davis, will compete in the CSI3*. In March, the California phenom won four Grand Prix classes in row. She brings her $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix winner, Nemo 119, to Leipzig.
To learn more about the US riders please visit the media guide:
For news, videos, photos, blogs and results please visit; http://usefnetwork.com/2011FEIWCFinals/
Details about the Finals are available here: http://www.engarde.de/events/index.php?eventID=65
Photos: Shawna Harding and Come On III SusanJStickle.com; Michelle Spadone and Melisimo by Shannon Brinkman