FEI World Cup Dressage & Jumping Horses Arriving in Las Vegas

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2007 World Cup Champion Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht © 2007 Ken Braddick
2007 World Cup Champion Isabell Werth and Warum Nicht © 2007 Ken Braddick

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK                                                                                  Photo Gallery: photo_icon

LAS VEGAS, Nev., April 3–Horses from around began arriving in Las Vegas Sunday for the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Dressage & Jumping that promises to be an emotional farewell to some great competitors as well as a farewell for at least several years of the hugely successful and still only dual championships that have been held every two years since 2005.

Thirty-five horses were aboard a flight from Europe Sunday. All traveled well.

Horses from the U.S. East Coast, including mounts from Canada and Colombia that had been competing in Florida, were scheduled to fly Monday. U.S. West Coast horses, including the single dressage entry from Australia that has been stabled in California, were being trucked overland Sunday and Monday.

The dressage competition is likely to be the most open in years with nine-time World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven on IPS Painted Black and not her Olympic mount Salinero while Germany’s Isabell Werth, twice winner of the World Cup, will ride Satchmo, the horse she competed at the 2008 Olympics.

The USA’s Steffen Peters and Ravel, who have been improving since their fourth place finish at the 2008 Olympics, the two Dutch stars, newcomer Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival and Hans Peter Minderhoud and  Exquis Nadine, as well as Canadian Olympian Ash;ley Holzer and Pop Art are considered serious challengers for the right to hold aloft the trophy at the Thomas & Mack Arena. (See Photo Gallery of images of World Cup competitors).

The Las Vegas event will be the last dual championships of the only annual global equestrian competition in the USA for several years. The Federation Equestre International has announced new venues, all in Europe, for the World Cup Final in jumping through 2013. The dressage Finals have not been announced beyond next year when it will be in Europe.

The three joint Finals in 2005, 2007 and 2009 are the only occasions that both Olympic disciplines have been held in the same venue at the same time. Both disciplines have been sellouts at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center. And both have been popular with foreign riders who have expressed enthusiasm for the glamor and bright lights of Las Vegas that surround the event.

Anky van Grunsven and Sjef Janssen celebrating their marriage in Las Vegas. © 2005 Ken Braddick
Anky van Grunsven and Sjef Janssen celebrating their marriage in Las Vegas. © 2005 Ken Braddick

Van Grunsven married her trainer, Sjef Janssen, here after winning the 2005 Final so will celebrate their fourth anniversary.

The retirement of Brentina, the mare that carried Debbie McDonald to the USA’s only World Cup title, will surely be an emotional moment. The owners, Peg and Parry Thomas after whom the arena is named, will be watching.

Debbie McDonald and Brentina at emotion-charged 2005 Final. © 2005 Ken Braddick
Debbie McDonald and Brentina at emotion-charged 2005 Final. © 2005 Ken Braddick

And this also will be the last dance together at a World Cup Final of the 18-year-old Briar and Jan Brink of Sweden who have appearned in seven World Cup Finals, including all three in Las Vegas.

This year’s Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final is the 24th since the series was launched in 1986.

Fifteen competitors from the eight nations will compete: Australia; Canada; Colombia; Germany; Poland; The Netherlands; Sweden; and USA.

The 15 horses originate from six studbooks: KWPN (7); Hanoverian Studbook (1) Swedish Warmblood (3); Baden-Württemberg (1); Oldenburg Studbook (2); and Polish Warmblood (1).

Newcomers to the event are Cornelissen, Marco Bernal of Colombia, Heath Ryan of Australia and Jan Ebeling of the USA. Cornelissen at age 29 is the youngest competitor, while compatriot Jeannette Haazen is the oldest at 54.

Ground jury consists of Linda Zang (USA, president), Katrina Wüst (Germny), Wim Ernes (Netherlands), Enzo Truppa (Italy) and Gustav Svalling (Sweden)

The dressage schedule:

Wednesday, April 15
1:30 pm Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Warm-Up Class

Thursday, April 16
Noon Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix

Friday, April 17
Noon Las Vegas Dressage Showcase Brentina’s Retirement

Saturday, April 18
7:00pm Rolex FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final

Competitors in the Final are:

Titledefender
1. Anky van Grunsven IPS Painted Black (NED)

Western European League
2. Isabell WERTH Satchmo or Warum Nicht FRH (GER)
3. Adelinde CORNELISSEN Parzival (NED)
4. Hans Peter MINDERHOUD Exquis Nadine (NED)
5. Monica THEODORESCU Whisper (GER)
6. Jan BRINK Briar (SWE)
7. Jeannette HAAZEN Nartan (NED)
8. Minna TELDE Don Charly (SWE)

Central European League
9. Michael Rapcewicz Randon (POL)

Pacific League
10. Heath Ryan Regardez Moi (AUS)

North American League
11. Steffen Peters Ravel (USA)
12. Ashley Holzer Pop Art (CAN)

South American/Asia
13. Marco Bernal Diamore (COL)

Additional strating places or FEI Wild Card
14. Leslie Morse Kingston (USA)
15. Jan Ebeling Rafalca (USA)