It's a Kiwi Victory in the Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas
New Zealander Katie Laurie Wins the John Quirk Cup
After a beautiful Native American Tribute, national anthem rendition by Kristen Hertzenberg and a pyrotechnic performance, tonight's Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas was underway. With an international field of twenty-two starters including past World Champions and Olympic Gold Medalists, only three rode the Anthony D'Ambrosio course without fault.
Early on, twenty-three-year-old Alec Lawler illustrated that the course could be ridden clean when he piloted Agamemnon without fault. Directly after, world-renowned German rider Marcus Ehning and Singular LS La Silla appeared to be clean, only to be caught by the clock and finish with a single time fault.
Riding in the ring in the lucky thirteen spot, twenty-eight-year-old Katie Laurie of New Zealand and Kiwi Iron Mark left all the rails in the cups and guaranteed a jump-off. The final rider in the ring, Todd Minikus on the talented ten-year-old mare Babalou, made it three to return.
Katie Laurie and Kiwi Iron Mark (c) McCool Photography
Lawler set the pace going double clean in 39.36. Laurie met that bet and raised it, riding double clean in 37.39. The Kiwi cheering section went wild. With a rail part-way through the jump-off, Minikus couldn't match that ride. Victory to New Zealand.
Tonight was extraordinarily memorable as the arena went dark and the jumbotron lit up. The crowd was quiet as Las Vegas Events' President Pat Christensen, Spruce Meadows Founder Ron Southern and others gave a fitting tribute to their friend and colleague, John Quirk. This magnanimous man brought the FEI World Cup™Finals to Del Mar and later to Las Vegas.
His wife of forty-four years, Tish Quirk, summed it up by stating, "John came into the horse world as a gift to me and he made it better for everyone. He embraced it and helped it grow and brought joy to everyone he met. This week is the celebration of John's life and we are all celebrating his dream."
As the winner of the 2015 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas, Katie Laurie was presented with the John Quirk Cup. Special in its own right, Laurie's story was similarly moving.
"A friend of mine, Melanie Purcell, used to ride Kiwi Iron Mark, and she was diagnosed with cancer. She asked me to ride him while she was sick and she died around the time he turned seven. The rest of her family is here, which has been really great and makes the win extra-special for me."
Katie Laurie and Kiwi Iron Mark (c) McCool Photography
Entertainment is a Las Vegas trademark and following the show jumping was a saddle-switch extravaganza called the 'Duel in the Desert' where three show jumpers - Lucy Davis, Steve Guerdat and Tanya Levorchick - teamed up with three National Reining Cow Horse Association riders. In a saddle and discipline switch, each show jumper executed a sliding stop, spin, cut a cow and did a short fence work run, and each cowboy rode a jumper course of seven obstacles. The crowd cheered enthusiastically for their favorites and a good time was had by all.
Brandon Buttars (c) McCool Photography
The LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final III continues on Sunday, April 19th at noon when after two rounds, and a jump-off if there's a tie, the world will have their 2015 Champion.
Spectators have the opportunity to experience the heated competition featuring world-renowned horses and riders while also enjoying the entertainment that has given Las Vegas its worldwide reputation. From laser light shows to acrobats to fireworks and Vegas show girls, this event dazzles from start to finish.
The 2015 FEI World Cup™ Finals features both the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final and the LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final. The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final concluded with Saturday afternoon's Grand Prix Freestyle. The LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final continues with Sunday afternoon's two-round Final.
All competitions can be watched live on FEI TV, please visit: www.feitv.org
VIP guests of the FEI World Cup™ Finals are being treated to top amenities that can't be duplicated anywhere else in the world at the Taylor Harris Club presented by The National Horse Show. The Taylor Harris Club includes a private VIP hospitality area complete with deluxe food and beverages as well as VIP preferred parking.
Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is an annual international showdown among the world's best show jumping horses and riders. In the 36 Finals held through 2014, Germany (10) and the United States (9) have emerged with the most titles, having won the championship nineteen times between them. Previous FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals held in the United States include Baltimore (1980), Tampa (1989), Del Mar, CA (1992) and Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009).
First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final features the world's best dressage horses and riders. The United States has won the championship twice - in 2003 (Debbie McDonald with Brentina) and 2009 (Steffen Peters with Ravel). The Final has been held in the U.S. in Los Angeles (1995) and Las Vegas (2005, 2007, 2009).
Las Vegas Events is a private, not-for-profit organization that serves as the exclusive major special events agency for the city. Founded in 1982, LVE is funded by hotel room tax. Through its Signature Event initiative, LVE has created a model to integrate all elements of special events and formally improve communication between event producers and Las Vegas' hotel properties and sponsors. Since 1991, Las Vegas Events has produced, presented or supported more than 600 events.
For further information, please visit the World Cup's website at WorldCupLasVegas.com.