It won’t be long before the “city of lights” becomes the “city of stars” as some of the world’s best riders return to the , April 15-19, 2009 for the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Show Jumping and Dressage Finals.
Las Vegas Events (LVE) will once again host the FEI World Cup™ Finals. This marks the fifth time that the city of Las Vegas will host the FEI World Cup Finals and only the third time ever, following two previous times in Las Vegas in 2005 and 2007, that the world’s premier annual championships in the two Olympic equestrian disciplines will be held concurrently.
“There is no question about it, Las Vegas is the perfect destination for an event as exciting as this – you can’t help but feel the energy in the air,” said Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events. “Whether you are an American supporting a show jumping rider, or a dressage fan from around the globe, the entertainment that the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals brings to Las Vegas is not to be missed.”
In April, 2007, more than 85,000 spectators attended the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Dressage Finals. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the event had a non-gaming economic impact of $23.4 million. Individuals representing 25 countries and all 50 of the United States purchased tickets for the Finals, bringing a true international feel to the weekend’s competition.
“There is no denying that the 2007 World Cup Finals were a huge success,” said John Long, CEO of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). “We are striving to make 2009 even bigger and better than previous years – and we hope that equine enthusiasts from all over the world will join us to celebrate this spectacular event.”
Debbie McDonald, 2003 FEI World Cup Dressage champion, echoed Long’s statements by saying, “I don’t think our sport has ever been so well received as it has been in Las Vegas. I believe that hosting the Finals in Las Vegas provided an incredible boost for our sport.”
McDonald is one of America’s most accomplished dressage riders, and will be on hand at the World Cup to honor her legendary partner, Brentina, during her official retirement ceremony. Along with McDonald, Brentina, a chestnut Hanoverian mare, owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas, has enjoyed one of the most illustrious careers in dressage history. The pair represented the United States at the 2008 Hong Kong Olympic Games as well as the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where they led the U.S. to the bronze medal. In 2003 they were also the first U.S. pair ever to win an FEI World Cup Dressage Championship. In 1999 Debbie and Brentina put in an amazing performance at the Pan American Games, winning both the individual and team gold medals.
Brentina’s retirement ceremony will take place on Friday, April 17, during the Las Vegas Dressage Showcase. Surrounded by her owners, rider and many adoring fans, the retirement ceremony will honor her many years and many accomplishments.
“It is an honor for us to host Brentina’s retirement ceremony,” said Christenson. “She and Debbie have contributed so much to the sport of dressage, and as the first U.S. pair to win a Dressage Word Cup Championship, it is extremely fitting that we honor her in Las Vegas.”
In addition to honoring a past champion, many horses and rider combinations will be vying for the honor of winning the 2009 Championship. With exciting competition slated for show jumping and dressage, fans will be able to watch their favorite horse and rider combinations in both Olympic disciplines put their talent, determination and skill on the line.
Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup Jumping Final is an annual international showdown among the world’s best show jumping horses and riders. Approximately 45 riders qualify from 13 leagues around the world. In the 30 finals held through 2008, United States riders have emerged with the most titles, having won the championship seven times.
“Las Vegas has consistently put on incredible World Cup Finals, and it is a real plus for our sport to have the Finals back there,” said 2004 and 2008 Olympic Team Gold Medalist McLain Ward of Brewster, New York who has competed in three of the four Finals held in Las Vegas. “They do a fantastic job showing the best our sport has to offer. The riders all love it and I find it very exciting that the Finals are going back there.”
The 2009 event will mark the eighth FEI World Cup Jumping Final to be held in the United States, following Finals in Baltimore in 1980, Tampa, Fla. in 1989, Del Mar, Calif. in 1992 and the four in Las Vegas in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup Dressage Final has been held in the U.S. three times, in 1995 in Los Angeles and 2005 and 2007 in Las Vegas. The Netherlands has dominated the competition, winning nine titles, followed by Germany with seven. The United States won its first title in 2003 when Debbie McDonald rode Brentina to the championship.
Las Vegas Events, Inc. (LVE), producer of 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007 FEI World Cup Finals, was founded in 1983. LVE has grown with Las Vegas as the city has emerged as one of the world’s top special event and resort destinations. A private, not-for-profit organization, LVE is funded by hotel room tax and serves as the exclusive major special events agency for the city. Since 1991, Las Vegas Events has produced, presented or supported more than 440 events, which have driven more than 3.8 million visitors to the area, resulting in an economic impact of more than $2.3 billion.
More information regarding ticket purchases and World Cup Club membership is available at the official website at www.worldcuplasvegas.com. Further information about the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Dressage Finals, including rankings and league standings, is also available at the website.
Photos by Diana DeRosa and Cealy Tetley