World Cup Final – The Lineup, History & Trivia
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April 9, 2015
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
When Charlotte Dujardin rides Valegro into the Las Vegas arena for the Grand Prix Fresstyle to decide the 30th World Cup Final, the odds in the city that exists to gamble will not be whether the Olympic and World Games gold medal pair will successfully defend their title but will the dancing duo post yet another world record score.
The 12,000 fans that long ago bought every available seat in the Thomas & Mack Center will be thrilled to see the pair from Great Britain perform in the United States for only the second time and will be as anxious about the runnerup and third placings.
Both American combinations–Steffen Peters who became only the second American to claim the title the last time the Final was held in Las Vegas in 2009 and Laura Graves in her first World Cup–have records that make them contenders for a top three finish.
Of the 18 horses and riders confirmed as starters at this time, 16 represent Europe–though two are based in Florida–not uncommon for the event that held the first Final in 1986 centered around the Freestyle after qualifying indoor competitons over winter.
The lineup for the Grand Prix on Thursday, April 16 with all scoring above 60 per cent moving on to the Freestyle on Saturday, April 18 are:
Charlotte Dujardin, 29 years old of Great Britain/Valegro, 13-year-old KWPN gelding–highest Freestyle score in past year 94.300% (world record) London, Dec. 17, 2014
Western European League (9 slots)
Edward Gal, 45 of Netherlands/Glock’s Undercover, 14-year-old KWPN gelding–88.625% Odense Oct.19, 2014
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, 29 of Germany/Unee BB, 14-year-old KWPN stallion–82.625% Kaposvar Oct. 12, 2014
Fabienne Lütkemeier, 25 of Germany/D’Agostino, 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding–80.775% Neumünster Feb. 15, 2015
Isabell Werth, 45 of Germany/El Santo NRW, 14-year-old Rhinelander gelding–81.000% Munich June 1, 2014
Hans Peter Minderhoud, 41 of Netherlands/Glock’s Flirt, 14-year-old Swiss Warmblood gelding–80.425% ’s-Hertogenbosch Mar. 14, 2015
Agnete Kirk Thinggaard, 32 of Denmark/Jojo AZ, 12-year-old Hungarian Sporthorse gelding–78.050% Amsterdam Jan. 31, 2015
Morgan Barbançon Mestre, 22 of Spain/Painted Black, 18-year-old KWPN stallion–78.900% ’s-Hertogenbosch Mar. 14, 2015
Paulinda Friberg, 41 of Sweden/Di Lapponia T, 14-year-old Hanoverian mare–76.925% Göteborg Feb. 28, 2015
Malin Hamilton, 47 of Sweden/Fleetwood, 16-year-old Westfalen gelding–73.325% Hickstead Aug. 2, 2014
Central European League (2 slots)
Elena Sidneva, 50 of Russia/Romeo Star, 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion–75.100% Brno June 22, 2014
Tatiana Dorofeeva, 50 of Russia/Kartsevo Upperville, 14-year-old KWPN stallion–72.575% Nizhniy Novgorod June 13, 2014
North American League (2 slots)
Steffen Peters, 50 of San Diego, California/Legolas 92, 13-year-old Westfalen gelding–80.925% San Juan Capistrano Mar. 22, 2015
Laura Graves, 27 of Geneva, Florida/Verdades, 13-year-old KWPN gelding–82.036% Caen Aug. 29, 2014
FEI extra starting places
Lars Petersen, 49, of Wellington, Florida representing Denmark/Mariett, 17-year-old Danish Warmblood mare–79.175% Wellington Feb. 6, 2015
Mikala Gundersen, 46 of Wellington, Florida representing Denmark/My Lady, 15-year-old Danish Warmmblood mare–76.450% Wellington Mar. 27, 2015
Inessa Merkulova, 50 of Russia/Mister X, 11-year-old Trakehner gelding–76.875% Tallinn Oct. 4, 2014
Terhi Stegars, 40 of Finland/Axis TSF, 16-year-old Trakehner stallion–77.600% Neumünster Feb. 15, 2015
The fact that women outnumber men is typical of the only annual individual world championship–only once have there been more male riders than females and that was in 1988 when there were seven men and six women. The men have started to catch up a bit this millenium with equal numbers of females and males in 2000, 2005 and 2009.
Women have dominated the top of the medals podium–led by the Queen of the Freestyle Anky van Grunsven on nine occasions–five with Bonfire and four with Salinero–while only three men have held the winner’s trophy–Sven Rothenberger of Germany on Andiamo in 1990, Steffen Peters of the United States on Ravel in 2009 and Edward Gal of the Netherlands on Totilas in 2010.
Painted Black that Anky rode in 2008 and 2009 for a couple of third place finishes is being competed this year by Morgan Barbançon Mestre of Spain who at the age of 22 is the youngest rider in the field and just four years older than Painted, the oldest horse this year.
Lars Petersen on Mariett, owned by American Marcia Pepper and who competed on Denmark’s team at last year’s World Games, will be riding in his first World Cup since placing second on Blue Hors Cavan in 2002.
Steffen is one of only two Americans (and the only non-Europeans), the other being Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003, to have won the World Cup.
Debbie will be there coaching Laura Graves as another World Cup star will be on hand for her riders.
Monica Theodorescu on Ganimedes won the event in both 1993 and 1994 and her score of 81.600 per cent was the first to break the 80 per cent ceiling for the World Cup Freestyle. She is now the coach of the German team. The winning score of Anne Grethe Jensen and Marzog in the first Final was 78.700 per cent, though the format was different from the competition now.
Isabell Werth of Germany is another double World Cup champion competing this year, having won on Fabienne in 1992 and on Warum Nicht at this same stadium in 2007.
Other dual winners include Switzerland’s Christine Stückelberger on Gaugin de Lully in 1987 and 1988, Ulla Salzgeber on Rusty in 2001 and 2002 and Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival in 2011 and 2012.
The emotional level will be high at another ceremony at the fourth dual Finals of dressage and jumping in Las Vegas in the past 10 years.
Wizard, the 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding that Adrienne Lyle of Sun Valley, Idaho rode for the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy last year will be formally retired.
The horse is owned by Peggy and Parry Thomas of River Grove Farm in Hailey, Idaho–they also owned Brentina that was retired in the same arena in 2009.
Parry Thomas, who will be 94 years old this year, with his business partner Jerome Mack is credited with bankrolling the casino industry in Las Vegas and for whom the Thomas & Mack Center was named.
And the Freestyles won’t have to be trimmed as they had to be in the past as some spectator seats were taken out of the basketball stadium to insure a standard dressage arena of 20 by 60 meters.