World Cups of Dressage & Jumping Scheduled for Las Vegas in April Canceled Because of Coronavirus

2 weeks ago admin Comments Off on World Cups of Dressage & Jumping Scheduled for Las Vegas in April Canceled Because of Coronavirus
Isabell Werth riding Weihegold OLD in 2019 to their third World Cup title and ready to go to Las Vegas seeking an unprecedented third straight title. File photo. © 2020 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Mar. 13, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping will not be held in Las Vegas next month, canceled Friday due to limits on travel and gatherings of people across the globe aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Cancellation of the annual championships was announced by the International Equestrian Federation, U.S. Equestrian Federation and Las Vegas Events a month before 18 dressage riders and horses and about 45 jumper riders and horses from around the world were to gather in Las Vegas to battle for two titles April 15-19.

The World Cup was also to be the official retirement for Verdades, the KWPN gelding that Laura Graves of Geneva, Florida partnered to become both America’s and the world’s top combination–2015 Pan American Games gold, 2016 Olympic bronze and 2018 World Equestrian Games double silver.

“It is very regrettable that next month’s FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas have had to be cancelled, but the decision was out of our hands,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

“Since the FEI World Cup series began in 1978 for jumping and in 1985 for dressage, the Finals have never had to be cancelled before, but the global concerns about the spread of the virus and the travel restrictions imposed by the US Government have meant that the Finals are one of many major sporting events impacted by this outbreak.

“Like everyone in our community, we are disappointed, not only for the athletes who have qualified for the Finals, but also for Las Vegas Events and US Equestrian, and of course our top partner Longines, but the health, well-being and safety of our athletes, officials and our fans has to be our top priority. We hope we can alleviate that disappointment by returning to Las Vegas for a wonderful FEI World Cup Finals in the future.”

All ticket buyers and exhibitors will be issued full refunds. The Las Vegas Events ticket office will contact all ticket holders starting next week.

The last competition for the USA combination of Laura Graves on Verdades was at the 2019 World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. The pair was reserve champion to Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, as they were in 2017 and 2018. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Government decrees in many countries banning events and activities of numerous people including a declaration by President Trump banning Europeans from coming to America over the next 30 days made the World Cup a virtual impossibility.

The ban that would have applied to riders, grooms, veterinarians and officials from Europe that account for most of the World Cup participants–nine of the total of 18 dressage combinations from Western Europe and two from Central Europe–would have been in effect until April 11, a day beyond when flights of horses were scheduled from Europe to Las Vegas. There was no assurance that the ban could not extend beyond the 30-day limit.

The bans of events and gatherings of all types in many countries aimed at curtailing the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19 as it is named officially had already led to a domino effect of horse shows being canceled that was also impacting preparations by prospective participants in the Tokyo Olympics well under five months away.

Las Vegas itself, although reporting only a handful of coronavirus cases, has seen a sharp drop in visitors that typically runs about 800,000 a month. Hotels and casinos are reported cutting back on employees.

Las Vegas has a special status in World Cup history.

The event in 2005 was the first joint championships of dressage and jumping and was so successful that it has since been adopted by all other organizers of the Finals.

The city with the most extensive lineup of entertainment anywhere has been popular with participants, and Las Vegas was again selected for the championships in 2007, 2009 and 2015.

Steffen Peters was the World Cup champion on Ravel in 2009, only the second American to win the title.

Steffen Peters on Ravel holding aloft the World Cup won at Las Vegas in 2009. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The other was Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003. The universally popular Brentina was owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas, the competition venue name of the Thomas & Mack Arena of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to honor the donation made by the two businessmen.

Steffen and Suppenkasper, his prospective Olympic mount, qualified for the Las Vegas Final this year. However, the last North American qualifier to have decided at least one other combination was to be held at the Global Dressage Festival at the end of March, but the results will now be moot.

Isabell Werth, the German superstar who won the title on Warum Nicht in Las Vegas in 2007, was planning to compete Weihegold OLD on which she was World Cup champion the last three years. No dressage combination has ever won four straight.

Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain who was champion in 2015 on Valegro planned to return with Mount St. John Freestyle.