The 2015 LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final Goes to Guerdat
Switzerland, France, Ireland and United States Top Four
Three days of intense competition and four demanding rounds, two of them today, in a tight indoor arena with enthusiastic crowds - these are the elements that make for superb sport. After forty-nine rounds over Anthony D'Ambrosio's courses in the FEI World CupTM Jumping Final III, only six were without fault. Riding a mare that he's competed on for less than a year, Swiss rider Steve Guerdat earned the LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final title of Champion.
Steve Guerdat and Albfeuhren's Paille (c) McCool Photography
Guerdat, the leader going into the last round, knew all too well what demands he faced as he trotted into the arena. No stranger to this level of competition, the decorated show jumper had come close to winning this coveted title each of the last three years. As one of the six that went clean in the first round today, and maintaining a zero score, he had a commanding lead with room for error.
"In the last nine or ten years, I was on the podium three times, twice in the jump-off. Every year I was in the top ten," said Guerdat. "Yes, on one side, you always want more, but you also have to be realistic about how good the other riders and the other horses are, so I actually feel really good about all these results. Today I just tried to take it like always. Of course I was nervous, but I'm lucky to have great people around me, to keep me calm and confident."
The final day began with a tie between Rich Fellers aboard the fabulous Irish Sport Horse Flexible and Steve Guerdat on the fierce Selle Francais mare Albfuehren's Paille. After Guerdat's clean round, Fellers and Flexible had two late rails for an unusual eight fault round. Guerdat took over the lead.
Guerdat gave credit to his horse. "I like that she is a real fighter. I know that today in the Championship, a lot of horses were struggling, so you really needed a fighter if you wanted to do the job. She knows her job, and every time she sees a fence, she wants to clear it, no matter how. So that's her biggest quality, and I think she really deserves my hat off to her today."
Nipping at the leader's heels was the other Irish superstar, nineteen-year-old Bertram Allen and the Anglo-European-bred wonder mare Molly Malone V. After Thursday, he led the pack. With a rail in each of the ensuing rounds, the youngster finished with an impressive nine penalty points, and a well-earned third place.
Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V (c) McCool Photography
Executing exquisite equitation while show jumping at 1.60 meters with spreads up to 1.70 meters, Penelope Leprevost of France rode the gorgeous ten-year-old Belgian stallion Vagabond de la Pomme with aplomb. The pair also finished with just nine penalty points, and a slightly faster time in the final round, for second place.
Penelope Leprevost and Vagabond de la Pomme (c) McCool Photography
American Beezie Madden masterfully rode the KWPN gelding Simon to a clean first round and had one late rail in round two to finish with ten penalty points and fourth place.
In comes Steve with a lead equal to two rails, plus one time fault. With an unexpected rail at fence 5a, Guerdat came around to the final large oxer. Feeling the pressure of the tight time allowed, he came off the short corner away from the in-gate and left the ground a bit too long, crashing through the final fence. But his lead coming in was wide enough that the Swiss rider could still claim the victory.
Steve Guerdat (c) McCool Photography
"So coming to the last jump, I heard Martin Fuchs on the side, saying, 'Go, go, go!' because I was a little short on the time. I knew I could have the last fence down as long as I didn't have time faults. So I just went as fast as possible to the finish line, but unfortunately, there was a big fence in the way," the FEI World CupTM Final Champion humbly said with a smile.
As the FEI flag passes on to Sweden for the 2016 LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final, the city of Las Vegas bids goodbye for now. The entertainment capital provides the ideal backdrop, as proven by the 73,895 spectators who came to see world-class athletes compete in both the Reem Acra FEI World CupTM Dressage Final as well as the LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final this week.
For complete results, check www.worldcuplasvegas.com.
To watch clips, interviews and recaps on FEI TV, please visit: www.feitv.org.
Started in 1979, the FEI World CupTM 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 CupTM 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 CupTM 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.