Memorable Moment #1: When “Three-Peat” Pessoa Made History at the First World Cup Final Held in Las Vegas
Las Vegas hosted the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final for the first time in 2000
Las Vegas, Nevada • Thomas & Mack Center -
As we get closer to this year’s FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, we thought it’d be fun to take some trips down memory lane and look back at some of the incredible moments that have taken place at previous Finals held in Las Vegas. There will undoubtedly be many more memorable moments at this year’s World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas and they’re going to be here before you know it, April 15-19!
Las Vegas hosted the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final for the first time in 2000 – the combined Jumping and Dressage Finals didn’t begin until 2005. There was so much excitement and anticipation about bringing this premier equestrian event to the “Entertainment Capital of the World” and on top of that, the talk was all about whether or not Brazilian superstar Rodrigo Pessoa could achieve an unprecedented “three-peat” by winning the Final for a third consecutive year. He and Baloubet de Rouet had claimed victory at the 1998 Final in Helsinki, Finland and the 1999 Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. Rodrigo was the odds-on favorite to do it again, but he almost didn’t get the chance to compete.
When the incredible chestnut stallion Baloubet arrived from Europe, he stepped off the plane with a case of ‘shipping fever’ and a temperature of 105 degrees! Thankfully he recovered quickly and was cleared to compete. Rodrigo and Baloubet won the first-round speed class on Thursday night and then placed second in the second-round jump-off class on Friday. Under intense pressure to win on Sunday, the pair kept their cool and jumped two clear rounds on the final day in front of a packed Thomas & Mack Center to clinch the win. Not only did Rodrigo became the first – and still only – rider to claim back-to-back-to-back World Cup wins, but he won all three titles with the same horse!
Rodrigo’s win climaxed an incredible week in Las Vegas and no one expressed it better than Max Ammann, creator of the World Cup, who said after that initial event, “World-class sport and world-class entertainment were combined to create arguably the greatest equine extravaganza that has ever existed!”
Four other riders have won the FEI Jumping World Cup Final three times— Austria’s Hugo Simon, German riders Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning, who narrowly edged Rodrigo to dash his hopes of a fourth title in 2003, as well as the current champion, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland. But Rodrigo is still the only rider to do it three consecutive years!