Las Vegas, Nevada - Reigning FEI World Cup™ Champions Valegro and Cornet d'Amour Have Arrived! The excitement in the air was palpable this morning as 40 of the world's best dressage and jumping horses coming from Europe, landed safely at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas to compete at the 2015 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final held April 15-19 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The 'celebrity passenger list' included defending FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion Valegro, the ride of Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin, and defending FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion Cornet d'Amour, the mount of Germany's Daniel Deusser.
The top equine athletes, representing 17 countries and with an estimated worth of over $150 million dollars, departed Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands at 4:25 AM (CEST) this morning aboard Qatar Airways 777-300 ERF chartered flight. It was first-class treatment all the way, with each horse having a generous "stall and a half" space for the long trip. They were looked after by a team of 10 grooms, and under the supervision of world-famous Dutch veterinarian Jan-Hein Swagemakers, who also works with the German Jumping team. A total of 26 jumping horses and 14 dressage horses, including 13 stallions, 18 geldings and 9 mares made up the passenger list for the 5,333 mile (8,564 km) journey to Las Vegas, which took 10 hours and 8 minutes. The flight touched down at approximately 7:30 AM (PT) in Las Vegas.
"The flight was good," said Swagemakers. "No horses misbehaved or got sick during the flight. The trip went well and everything went according to plan. The horses all look great."
The transportation of the valuable cargo was organized and handled expertly by the Dutta Corporation, who has been transporting horses globally for 26 years, and flies 5,000 horses per year. Tim Dutta, Chairman and CEO of the Dutta Corporation, was hands-on during the flight disembarkment process and subsequent transfer of the horses onto the gleaming silver trailers which took them to the quarantine facility just outside the Thomas & Mack Center. All went extremely smooth like a well-oiled machine.
"Luxury wise, this is the 'Cadillac' of horse transport, said Tim Dutta about the Qatar 777 jet which is only three months old. "The plane is amazing. The horses flew in brand new jet stalls, so they are getting the best of the best that money can buy. All the horses flew very well and were comfortable."
Alan Davies, Valegro's long-time groom, kept a close eye on the Olympic superstar during the trip, but wasn't too worried as it was the gelding's second transatlantic trip.
"I think he travelled better than I did!" said Alan with a laugh. "It was a long trip but Valegro was amazing as always. He eats and drinks, and does everything a groom could want. He's such a star. He just copes with everything."
The horses will now have two days of quarantine, allowing the horses to rest and recover from their long trip.
The 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals, returning to the United States for the first time since 2009, provide a unique opportunity to witness the world's best horses and riders in both show jumping and dressage compete under one roof. The Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas will be epicenter of equestrian talent as Olympic, World, and European Champions will be competing for coveted World Cup Championship titles.
The thrilling action will commence at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday, April 15 with the warm-up classes for both jumping and dressage. Actual competition begins on Thursday, April 16 with the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Grand Prix at noon, followed by the Longines FEI World CupTMJumping Final Round I at 7:00 PM.
Competition continues the next day, Friday, April 17, with the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Freestyle Rehearsal at 7:30 AM, the Las Vegas Dressage Showcase at noon and the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Round II at 7:00 PM.
Saturday, April 18 features the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Final (Freestyle) at noon, followed by the $75,000 Canadian Pacific Show Jumping Grand Prix of Las Vegas at 7:00 PM. The competition concludes on Sunday, April 19 with the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Round III at noon. All times are local time.
Not only will spectators have the opportunity to experience the heated competition featuring world-renowned horses and riders, but they will also enjoy the entertainment that has given Las Vegas its worldwide reputation. From laser light shows to acrobats to fireworks and Vegas show girls, this event will dazzle everyone from start to finish.
VIP guests of the FEI World Cup™ Finals will be treated to top amenities that can't be duplicated anywhere else in the world at the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show. The Taylor Harris Club includes a private VIP hospitality area complete with deluxe food and beverages as well as VIP preferred parking.
Taylor Harris Club members will enjoy featured plates prepared by an impressive list of celebrity chefs from the Bellagio hotel. With creations from Chef Edmund Wong, Executive Chef for Bellagio, Chef Royden Ellamar of Sensi, and Chef Patrick Lee of Noodles, meals will be as exciting as the competition itself. In addition, VIP guests will be able to sample an artful collection of fine wines, spirits, and champagne, as well as interact with the sommelier from Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada, and enjoy the music and entertainment of Las Vegas.
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 36 Finals held through 2014, 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).
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).
Las Vegas Events is a private, not-for-profit organization that serves as the exclusive major special events agency for the city. Founded in 1982, LVE is funded by hotel room tax. Through its Signature Event initiative, LVE has created a model to integrate all elements of special events and formally improve communication between event producers and Las Vegas' hotel properties and sponsors. Since 1991, Las Vegas Events has produced, presented or supported more than 600 events.
For further information, please visit the World Cup's website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.