Meredith Michaels Beerbaum Strikes First Blow

Friday, April 17, 2009

Defending title holder Meredith Michaels Beerbaum struck the first blow Thursday night in the first competition of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ final in Las Vegas. Winning the opening battle, the 39 year old rider from Thedinghausen, Germany, proved that she was the smartest analyst of Anthony d’Ambrosio’s brilliant speed and handiness course. The two time World Cup winner rode her own race in an absolute minimum amount of meters.
Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and Shutterfly on their way to victory in the first competition of the Rolex FEI World Cup final. (Photo Credit: Kit Houghton)

Steve Guerdat from Switzerland had already proven that the short cut to oxer number 5 was possible. Taking another extremely risky short turn to the Bellagio oxer, Guerdat’s horse Tresor was off balance and couldn’t prevent a rail from falling down. Pretty much at the end of the field Meredith Michaels Beerbaum added strides in some lines, enabling her 16 year old gelding Shutterfly to skip meters and stop the clock at only 56.48 seconds.

The crowd in the Thomas & Mack Center was ecstatic. Their former compatriot from California was one full second faster than Christina Liebherr, who was seventh to go and made everybody believe that no one of the 38 riders after her would be able to improve her result. Liebherr’s horse LB No Mercy raced around the Tabel C, galloping outside turns, stopping the clock at 57.47 seconds. The Swiss rider improved the result of first rider Rich Fellers who warmed up the crowd with a thrilling ride aboard his small Irish chestnut Flexible, the runners up of last years final (58.50 seconds).

McLain Ward showed that every rider could adapt the course to his horse’s needs. Of three possible short turns, the American top rider chose only one and let his Belgian mare Sapphire gallop in the other two.

But victory was for the smartest rider and the most experienced horse. Meredith Michaels Beerbaum executed her plan with a surgeon’s precision, keeping rhythm and balance in the shortest possible lines, riding ‘simple’ in difficult turns. Who can keep Meredith from winning her third FEI World Cup aboard freak of nature Shutterfly?


Meredith Michaels Beerbaum:

“This course was unique. Normally riders can be faster by leaving out strides. In this course I could be faster adding strides. And Shutterfly is a good adder.”
“My course was different from 99 percent of the other riders. I was a bit surprised that I was the only one to choose these options. My horse is 16 years, we have a lot of experience and I know him very well. I made a plan and I was happy that we could execute it.”
“This means a lot to me, riding the World Cup final in Las Vegas, with Rolex as sponsor.”

Christina Liebherr:
“This is my first World Cup final and I have given it a lot of thought before I decided to go to Las Vegas. My horse performs better outside, he needs space and the arena in Las Vegas is very small. I didn’t take the inside turns, because they don’t suit my horse. He fought hard and gave everything. Especially before fence number 4. He waited for me and I waited for him. So the distance became very long, that’s where No Mercy gave everything. It’s a great experience to be here in Las Vegas.”

McLain Ward:

“There were a lot of options in this course, it was difficult not to get trapped. The World Cup final is an event with a bit of stamina. The competition takes almost a week, but you have to do it one day at a time. I’ve been aiming at Las Vegas since the Olympic Games in Hong Kong. Sapphire has had a big break and I’ve been showing her since January in order to make her peak at the World Cup final. I was hoping to be in the top 5, third place is great. But of course, this is a beautiful Rolex watch, I would have loved to be a bit faster.”

Course designer Anthony d’Ambrosio:

“I tried to build a course that resembled a Tabel A more then a Tabel C. There were various options, so riders could have the rides that would suit their horse’s strengths. There was more than one way to be successful, it was about how well a rider’s plan would be executed.”

Competition at a Glance

  • 31st final of the FEI World Cup™
  • 5th final in Las Vegas
  • 44 riders from 22 countries in the first competition of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ final 2009
  • 43 finished the tabel C course
  • 1 rider eliminated because of two refusals (Enrique Gonzalez from Mexico)
  • Max Kühner (GER) didn’t start because of lameness of his horse Acantus GK
  • 12 riders from the United States
  • 32 male riders, 12 female riders
  • Youngest rider: Hillary Dobbs (USA, 21)
  • Oldest rider: Ian Millar (CAN, 62)
  • Most experienced horse: Portofino (6th time participant at the FEI World Cup™ final, ridden by Michael Whitaker, placed 18th)
  • 15 clear rounds, slowest clear round by Hasan Senturk (TUR, 27th place)
  • Fastest round by Steve Guerdat/Tresor (59.61 sec, 9th place due to one rail down)
  • Number of spectators: 5627

Results of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ final (first competition)

1 Meredith Michaels Beerbaum (GER), Shutterfly, 56.48 sec, 45 pnts
2 Christina Liebherr (SWI), LB No Mercy, 57.47 sec, 43 pnts
3 McLain Ward (USA), Sapphire, 57.73 sec, 42 pnts
4 Rich Fellers (USA), Flexible, 58.50 sec, 41 pnts
5 Thomas Velin (DEN), Grim st. Clair, 58.68 sec, 40 pnts
6 Albert Zoer (NED), Okidoki, 58.90 sec, 39 pnts
7 Ludger Beerbaum, Coupe de Coeur, 59.11 sec, 38 pnts
8 Ben Maher (GBR), Robin Hood W, 59.26 sec, 37 pnts
9 Steve Guerdat (SWI), Tresor, 59.61 sec, 36 pnts
10 Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Rufus, 60.09 sec, 35 pnts
11 Daniel Etter (SWI), Peu a Peu, 60.27 sec, 34 pnts
12 Marcus Ehning (GER), Leconte, 60.55 sec, 33 pnts
13 Lars Nieberg (GER), Lucie, 60.69 sec, 32 pnts
14 Marco Kutscher (GER), 61.02 sec, 31 pnts
15 Mandy Porter (USA), San Diego, 61.47 sec, 30 pnts
16 DarrAgh Kerins (IRE), Night Train, 61.58 sec, 29 pnts
17 Christine McCrea (USA), Vegas, 64.09 sec, 28 pnts
18 MichAel Whitaker (GBR), Portofino, 64.68 sec, 27 pnts
19 Edwina AlexAnder (AUS), Isovlas Itot du Chateau, 64.74 sec, 26 pnts
20 Kent Farrington (USA), Up Chiqui, 64.96 sec., 25 pnts
21 Mkael Forsten (FIN), Isaac du Jonquet, 64.97 sec, 24 pnts
22 Hillary Dobbs (USA), Quincy B, 65.04 sec, 23 pnts


FEI’s official video website, is offering extensive coverage from the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Dressage Finals in Las Vegas. Please see the detailed schedule below and visit

17 April 2009: Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final (Part I)
02:00 - 04:10 GMT (live)
11:00 - 13:30 GMT (as live replay)

18 April 2009: Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final (Part II)
02:00 – 04:35 GMT (live)
11:00 – 13:35 GMT (as live replay)

19 April 2009: Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final (Part I)
02:00 – 05:30 GMT (live)
11:00 – 14:30 GMT (as live replay)

19 April 2009: Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final (Part III)
19:00 – 20:30 GMT (live)

19 April 2009: Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final (Part IV)
21:00 – 22:25 GMT (live)

21 April 2009: Highlights of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final Dressage available as video on demand

22 April 2009: Highlights of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final Jumping 2009 available as video on demand