Las Vegas, NV - The 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final concluded this afternoon with United States jumping elevating its status on the world stage, placing five athletes in the top 20, including three in the top 10. Twenty-nine starters came into the Thomas & Mack Center Arena in Las Vegas, NV for Round I with 20 moving forward to Round II, taking on two challenging tracks set by course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio. On a day when clear rounds were at a premium, the U.S. contingent proved its mettle.
Beezie Madden finished the Final as the top-placed American in fourth. Madden (Cazenovia, NY) came into the third and final leg tied for fifth on on six faults, and moved up the leaderboard on the strength of a clear Round I and a speedy Round II. Abigail Wexner's athletic gelding, Simon, collected one of only six clear effortss in Round I, and with just one unlucky rail down at fence 10 in Round II stopped the timers in 65.78. Jos Verlooy of Belgium also ended the day on 10 faults, but Madden and Simon maintained their fourth position on the leaderboard with a time that was two seconds faster.
"This was a big goal for me this week and I am super happy with the way the horse went," said Madden. "I have a fantastic team behind me with a great owner. We had one rub today that cost us quite a bit, but I was really pleased with our result."
All eyes were on Rich Fellers (Sherwood, OR) as he entered the arena on a mission to bring the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping trophy back to the U.S. for the third time in four years, but it was not to be. Heading into the day tied for the lead on 0 faults, Fellers and Flexible, owned by Harry and Mollie Chapman had two rails in both rounds, finishing in seventh on 16 faults.
"Flexible gave his all today and at this stage in his career, it is still a dream to be jumping as well as he's jumping at this level of the sport," said Fellers. "The competitive side of me is a little disappointed, but from a horsemanship perspective, it is truly a dream and I am so pleased with Flexible."
In her third World Cup Final appearance, Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, CA) and Old Oak Farm's Barron improved on their 17th-place finish in 2014 to take a top ten finish in 2015, finishing ninth. In Round I, the pair took down a pair of rails at fences two and 12, and in Round II lowered just a single fence to finish on 19 faults.
Kirsten Coe (Royal Palm Beach, FL) and Ilan Ferder's Baronez were on point in Round I, taking down only the rail over the liverpool at fence eight to move forward to Round II. Luck was not on their side during their second go asthey collected four downed rails and a time fault to place 19th on 42 faults.
Returning to World Cup Final competition for a 16th time, McLain Ward (Brewster, NY) and Sagamore Farm's Rothchild moved forward to Round II after adding eight faults to their total in Round I. Following a rail down at the second and third fences, Ward opted to retire on course and take 20th place.
Also starting for the U.S. in Round I was Vinton Karrasch (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, FL) and Karl Cook (Woodside, CA). Karrasch and Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Follow Me II had rails at fences six and the C element of obstacle seven, finishing in 22nd on 29 faults. Kraut and the Evita Group's Nouvelle got off to a tough start, knocking the rail at fence one, the B element of obstacle three, and at fence five. They placed 24th on 33 faults. Cook and Signe Ostby's Jonkheer Z collected 20 faults to finish in 27th on 40 faults.
Competing in his 10th World Cup Final, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, came into today tied with Fellers for first place. After a clear Round I, Guerdat had two rails and a time fault in hand as he entered the arena for Round II. Despite two knock-downs, Guerdat and his mount Albfuehren's Paille crossed the finish line within the time allowed to win the championship title. Penelope Leprevost of France placed second with a Round II time of 65.30 and nine faults and Bertram Allen of Ireland placed third with a Round II time of 65.87, also on nine faults.
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