The World Cup Dressage Finals Pre-Report

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Saturday, April 11, 2015

The 30th FEI World Cup Dressage Final featuring the world’s best dressage riders and horses is taking place in Las Vegas this coming Wednesday, April 15 through next Sunday, April 19 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. For the sixth year in a row, this championship event has been sponsored by Reem Acra, the world-renowned New York glamour bridal gown and ready-to-wear fashion designer; her title sponsorship has thus far been extended through 2016.

This annual competition, taking place since 1985, has been held four times in the United States, once in Los Angeles in 1995 and three times in Las Vegas in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The U.S. has twice won the championship, once in 2003 with Debbie McDonald on Hanoverian stallion Brentina and again in 2009 with Steffen Peters on warmblood stallion Ravel. Anky van Grunsven has won this tournament more than any other rider with nine titles between 1995 and 2009.

The 2015 World Cup Dressage Finals will showcase 18 athletes from 9 nations, including Great Britain, Germany, Holland, USA, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Finland and Russia.

North American League (2 slots)

* Steffen PETERS - Legolas 92 (USA), 13-year-old

Steffen is the epitome of calm under pressure. Having participated in all three Las Vegas World Cups, he competes on Westfalian gelding Legolas, the 2013 USDF Grand Prix horse of the year. The pair is looking better than ever and scored back-to-back FEI World Cup™ qualifier wins in the last month alone in California with 80% in their musical freestyles.

* Laura GRAVES – 13-yr-old Verdades, or “Diddy” for short

Clearheaded and cool, this 27-year-old rider and the Dutch Warmblood gelding ride as one. Being called America’s new dressage phenomenon, this horse’s trot half-passes are extraordinary. Rider and horse have been perfecting the addition of passage half-passes and Diddy is only getting better and better. With an 82.036% in their Freestyle at WEG and 80.175% at the CDIO Wellington Nations Cup a few weeks ago, they will be the ones to watch.

Title Defender from last year’s World Cup in Lyon, France

* Charlotte DUJARDIN – 13-year-old Valegro

Reigning World Cup champion Charlotte Dujardin and this Dutch Warmblood gelding of Great Britain will try to beat their Grand Prix Freestyle world record of last year’s CDI-W Final - Lyon (FRA) where they scored a 92.179% and, in December at another World Cup event, they scored a world record again with a 93.4% at Olympia in London.

Dujardin and Valegro are the only duo in history to hold all four major dressage titles simultaneously as the current Olympic, World, European and Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ champions.

Extra FEI Starting Places or Wild Cards Given to 4 Riders:

* Lars PETERSEN – 17-year-old Mariett

Olympian Lars Petersen of Denmark will be making his third FEI World Cup™ Final appearance aboard Danish Warmblood mare Mariett, the horse upon which he rode at the 2014 WEG, won last year’s Hamburg Derby and placed second at the Danish National Championships. The second leading money winner at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival winter series, they prove to be fit and ready for the challenge.

* Mikala Munter GUNDERSEN – 14-year-old My Lady

Mikala will be competing 2014 WEG and 2014 FEI World Cup™ Finals Danish Warmblood mare My Lady. Last year, the duo placed second at the Hamburg Derby and came in third behind Lars at the Danish National Championships. Mikala and horse continue to improve every year. Their freestyle music “All That Jazz” fits them perfectly. They were the leading money winners at the 2015 Adequan Global Dressage Festival winter series.

 Also invited are:

* Inessa MERKULOVA (RUS) – Mister X

Four-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ competitor Inessa has confirmed her entry with Dutch gelding Mister X, the horse she rode at last year’s Finals in Lyon and the 2014 WEG.

* Terhi STEGARS (FIN) – Axis TSF

This will be the first time Terhi and the 14-year-old Trakehner stallion, Axis TSF, will be competing in Las Vegas.

Western European League (9 slots)

* Edward GAL – 14-year-old Glock’s Undercover (Ferro x Donnerhall)

Former World and FEI World Cup™ Champion Edward Gal of Holland will be making his third trip to Las Vegas to compete in his ninth FEI World Cup™ Final. This time he will be bringing Dutch Warmblood gelding Glock’s Undercover, the horse on whom he won Team Bronze medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 (WEG).

* Hans Peter MINDERHOUD – Glock’s Flirt (NED)

Peter Minderhoud will be competing Glock’s Flirt, a gelding that has been in the top placings at several FEI World Cup™ qualifiers. Minderhoud has competed at four FEI World Cup™ Finals, including the 2009 Final in Las Vegas.

* Jessica VON BREDOW-WERNDL – Unee BB (GER) 14-year-old Gribaldi

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, after winning two World Cup qualifiers this season, will be competing her 2014 World Cup Final stallion partner Unee BB.

* Fabienne LÜTKEMEIER – 15-year-old D’Agostino

The niece of Nadine Capellman from Germany will be competing Hanoverian gelding D’Agostino, her Team Gold medal-winning horse at the 2014 World Equestrian Games.

* Isabell WERTH (GER) will be riding two horses –Don Johnson (14-year-old Hanoverian gelding) and Rheinlander gelding El Santo (14 years old) upon whom she won the NYC Inaugural show with an 82% in her musical freestyle. 

Olympic Gold medalist Isabell Werth of Germany is a two-time World Champion and former World Cup Champion. Werth competed El Santo NRW at last year’s Final in Lyon, while Don Johnson competed at the 2013 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.

* Agnete KIRK THINGGAARD  (DEN) – 14-year-old Hungarian warmblood gelding Jojo (Florestan x Gaugin de Lully)

 Agnete will be competing in Las Vegas for the first time.

* Morgan BARBANCON MESTRE – Painted Black (Donnerhall x Hemmingway) formerly ridden by Anky van Grunsven.

This rider trains with Andreas Helgestad. Rider and black stallion competed at the London Olympics and Morgan was the highest scoring Spanish rider at the World Equestrian Games.

She will be making her first FEI World Cup™ Final appearance.

* Paulinda FRIBERG – Di Lapponia T (SWE) – First time

* Malin HAMILTON – Fleetwood (SWE) – First time

Central European League (2 slots)

* Elena SIDNEVA – Romeo Star (RUS) - second Las Vegas appearance

* Tatiana DOROFEEVA – Kartsevo Upperville (RUS) – first Las Vegas appearance

With anticipated spell-binding performances, the World Cup fans in Las Vegas will have a chance to see it all live and up close. Nothing is ever certain, but we sure hope our North American stars fight a good battle against their European counterparts!

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