The stage is set and it’s all-systems-go at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas, USA where the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015 Finals get underway on Thursday.
All horses passed their veterinary inspections on Tuesday, including those of Connolly’s RED MILLS Ambassadors, Bertram Allen who rides Molly Malone V and Edwina Tops-Alexander who will be aboard the mare Fair Light Van t Heike.
The line-up for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final in Las Vegas, USA contains all the ingredients for one of the most exciting ever in the 37 year history of the world’s most prestigious indoor Jumping tournament.
This is one title every Jumping rider wants to take, placing them amongst the greats of the sport including legendary partnerships and double-champions Ian Millar and the mighty Big Ben from Canada, and Great Britain’s John Whitaker and the magical Milton.
Since Austria’s Hugo Simon first punched the air in triumph after victory with Gladstone at the inaugural finale in Gothenburg (SWE) in 1979, the battle for this trophy has thrilled audiences all across the globe. And it never fails to spring a few surprises, as spectators witness previously unexposed talent rising to the challenge of the big occasion.
Edwina Tipping Bertram
Speaking this week to World of Showjumping, Edwina Tops-Alexander, whose entire stable of horses are fed exclusively Connolly’s RED MILLS Feed, has picked fellow Red Mills team-mate Bertram Allen as one of her favourites to land the coveted World Cup title,
“I think either Daniel Deusser or Bertram Allen could win the final. They are both on super form and both have their best horses there, so it’s going to be exciting,” she said.
The country with most wins at the Final is Germany with a total of 10, including last year’s victory for Daniel Deusser who will partner his 2014 ride Cornet d’Amour once again. And the 33-year-old defending champion will be celebrating even before he arrives in Las Vegas, because he has just been confirmed as the new world No. 1 in the Longines Rankings.
The youngest rider ever to clinch the trophy was Canada’s Mario Deslauriers who had just turned 19 when coming out on top with Aramis in Gothenburg in 1984. There are two talented 19-year-olds on the start-list again this year, Belgium’s Jos Verlooy who will turn 20 in December and Ireland’s Bertram Allen, who celebrates his 20th birthday in August. And there are lots of eyes on the young Irishman, who produced two stunning wins to challenge for the leadership of the super-tough Western European League over the winter months.
Allen’s potential has been clear from the outset of his career, and despite his lack of years he is already one of the most feared competitors on the international circuit. His extraordinary instinct for speed riding placed him out in front on the opening day of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ Jumping Championship in Normandy (FRA) last summer where he eventually finished seventh individually. That was no fluke, as he had won the Longines Grand Prix on home soil in Dublin (IRL) a few weeks earlier and with superb form over the winter he has risen all the way up to 10th in the Longines Rankings. Together with his wonderful little grey mare, Molly Malone, he is one to watch out for when the action gets underway in Vegas.
Edwina Tops-Alexander would love to add the World Cup Vigo D Arsouilles title to her list of wins that includes multiple Longines Global Champions Tourtriumphs and the Australian will rely on the mare Fair Light Van t Heike, in Las Vegas.
Along with defending champion Daniel Deusser – Marco Kutscher, Marcus Ehning and Hans-Dieter Dreher complete the German line-up, and Ehning will have a mission all his own. Only four riders have won the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title on three occasions, and he is one of them. He will go into the record books if he can become the first four-time champion, and as one of the great stylists of the sport, few doubt his ability to do so.
Two other men who will also be chasing down that trophy will be Switzerland’s Olympic champion Steve Guerdat, and Pius Schwizer, who have made it onto the podium in recent years but not quite managed to secure that top step. And there are eight ladies amongst the 42 starters from 20 nations. The USA’s Beezie Madden was the last female champion, pinning Guerdat into runner-up spot in a thriller at Gothenburg two years ago. And when it comes to female winners the Americans have sent out four of them, and can claim a strong association with Californian-born three-time champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum who flies the German flag.
Of the eight ladies starting at this year’s Final, five fly the stars-and-stripes and Bezzie Madden looks a powerful contender once again, following on from her bronze medal individual finish at the Alltech FEI WorldEquestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy and a great winter on the Florida circuit.
But if it’s a fairy-tale finish you want, then look no further than fellow-American Rich Fellers and his comeback king, the amazing Flexible. Written off three times during his career due to serious illness and injury, the stallion has battled back bravely on each occasion, and his victory at the 2012 Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) broke a 25-year drought for his country which earned him a very special place in the hearts of US Jumping fans.
Flexible’s latest spectacular recovery resulted in victory in the FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 West Coast qualifying series and now, at 19 years of age, the little Irish-bred horse with his unique way of going, and his rider who looks like he’s just stepped off the set of a Hollywood movie, are going to give it another shot.
If they were to succeed again, then the roof of the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas is likely to go into orbit with the wild delight of the host-country fans when the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final draws to a close on Sunday 19 April.
Facts and Figures:
Things to know about the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final:
A total of 45 Jumping horses were presented at the first veterinary inspection at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas today and were passed fit to compete.
Four riders presented two horses each – Kevin Staut (FRA), Katie Laurie (NZL), Kirsten Coe (USA) and Vinton Karrasch (USA).
Following the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Alsharbatly, the starting field for the Final is reduced to 41 riders.
The draw for order-of-go in Thursday’s first competition will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.
Course designer is America’s Anthony d’Ambrosio.
In the 37 year history of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals, a total of 496 riders from 53 nations have competed.
The USA holds the record for the greatest number of riders attending the Finals, with a total of 113. The country with the next highest number is Germany with a total of 48.
Austria’s Hugo Simon was the first winner of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title at the inaugural Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1979. Riding Gladstone, he came out on top in a two-way jump-off against America’s Katie Monahan and The Jones Boy.
Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker holds the record for the greatest number of attendances at the Final. He competed on 23 occasions but never won the title.
Defending champion is Germany’s Daniel Deusser (Cornet D’Amour).
Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Singular LS La Silla) is bidding to become the first-ever rider to win the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title for the fourth time.
There are three competitions to decide the Longines FEI World Cup™ 2014/2015 champion:
- Competition 1 is a Speed class, with seconds added for knockdowns.
- Competition 2 is one round against the clock, and one jump-off which is also against the clock. Results are then converted into points which are carried into the third and last competition.
- Competition 3 is two rounds of jumping over a Grand Prix course of fences between 1.50m and 1.60m in height. The top 30 horse-and-rider combinations are eligible to compete but only 20 go through to the second round. The leading rider after the first two competitions goes last, and starts on a zero score.
Total prizemoney for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014/2015 Final is €1.3m.
Timetable: (All times quoted are Pacific Time – For Ireland & UK add 7 Hours)
Thursday April 16: Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix – 12 noon
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 1 – 19.00
Friday April 17: Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2 – 19.00
Saturday April 18: Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle Final – 12 noon
Sunday April 19: Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 3 – 12 noon.
For more information on Connolly’s RED MILLS see www.redmills.com