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Viva Valegro in Vegas!

last updated on April 15, 2015 12:48

Viva Valegro in Vegas!

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro are all set for their Las Vegas star performance in the Thomas & Mack Arena where they’ll defend their Reem Acra FEI World Cup title. Owned by Carl Hester, Roly Luard and Anne Barrott, Valegro has been received by the American’s like the true star he is with red carpets, cameras flashing and adoring fans – they’ve been pretty happy to see his rider too!

The 30th running of the FEI World Cup Dressage Final returns to Las Vegas for a fourth time and there’s four former winners in the 18-strong high-class field. Charlotte of course returns to try and claim back to back titles while Las Vegas has proved a happy hunting ground for Germany’s Isabell Werth who won here in 2007 (she also won in 1992) and home favourite Steffen Peters who took the spoils in 2009 (some can still remember the after party!). Edward Gal also had his name in the record books in 2010 and will hope his star Glock’s Undercover can follow in the legendary Totilas’ footsteps.

The journey to Nevada for the equines from Europe started on Saturday when a Qatar Airways flight took off from Schipol Airport in the Netherlands with 40 of the region’s most precious horses – worth an estimated €150 million! There were 26 jumpers and 14 dressage horses, Valegro among them, which breaks down into 24 geldings, nine stallions and seven mares. Some 25,000lbs (almost 12,000kgs) of equipment accompanied the horses (they obviously don’t pack light!) along with ten grooms and a vet on the 11 hour 20 minute flight. Watch the FEI TV You Tube video of the process here

Picture: © FEI/Dirk Caremans (and headline pic)

Super groom Alan Davies (above) reported that ‘Blueberry’ completed his first flight without a hitch and there were no issues in the few days in quarantine (except Alan having to sport fetching white overalls). Charlotte flew out on Monday and the pair had their first exercise in the Thomas & Mack arena on Tuesday. The arena is an unusual shape as it usually plays host to concerts and sports like basketball and boxing but a suitable equestrian arena has been made. Charlotte told the FEI; “It’s a bit like a huge lunge-pen! I’m told it’s bigger than Olympia (London) but it doesn’t feel like it, maybe it’s because the seats rise so high around the ring. How are they going to fit seven judges in there?” she asked with a laugh.

She also said Blueberry is feeling the desert heat; “The temperature has definitely hit him, he doesn’t have long to acclimatise before he starts to compete but it’s great to be here and taking part in this show in the middle of the desert! He’s flown well and the last two days we gave him some easy time, not too much work. He’s gone from winter at home to this incredible heat, and I’m hoping he’s not suffering from jet-lag!” she said.

Yesterday all 18 dressage horses passed the vet’s inspection and the only incident was when 18 year old Painted Black made a bid for freedom after putting Mogan Barbancon Mestre on the floor! They were soon reunited and passed.

Today (Thursday) is an open training session in the main arena before competition gets underway on Thursday at 20.15 (BST) with the qualifying grand prix. Combinations need a mininim 60% to qualify to the final showcase, the freestyle, on Saturday night where the title will be decided.

Follow the news and scores on the World Cup Las Vegas website and both classes will be live on FEI TV (subscription required).


Things to know about the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final (thanks to the FEI for supplying):

- New York fashion designer, Reem Acra, presents the 30th FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April.

- 18 athletes from 9 nations will compete.

- The countries that will be represented are: Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Russia and USA.

- Defending champions are Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, winners at the 2014 Final in Lyon (FRA) and Olympic, world and European gold medallists.

- Also on the start-list are former FEI World Cup™ Dressage series winners Isabell Werth from Germany (1992 in Gothenburg and 2007 in Las Vegas), America's Steffen Peters (2009 in Las Vegas) and Edward Gal (2010 in 's-Hertogenbosch).

- The Netherlands holds the record for most wins in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series with 12 in total, and nine of those recorded by Dutch Freestyle queen, Anky van Grunsven.

- The next most prolific winners are Germany, with eight to date.

- The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2015 will begin on Thursday 16 April with the Grand Prix which is open to all 18 horse-and-rider combinations.

- All participants who finish the Grand Prix with a score of at least 60% will continue to the Grand Prix Freestyle which will decide the destination of the 2015 title on Saturday 18 April.

- Ground Jury: Lilo Fore (USA) President, Stephen Clarke (GBR), Francis Verbeek (NED), Peter Holler (GER), Hans Christian Matthiesen (DEN), Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus (SWE), Maria Schwennesen (AUS). Technical Delegate Freddy Leyman (BEL).

- Denmark’s Anne-Grethe Jensen was the first winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final. Riding Marzog, she pinned Great Britain’s Christopher Bartle and Wily Trout into runner-up spot while Switzerland’s Christine Stuckelberger finished third with Rubelit von Unkelruf at the inaugural event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands in 1986.

- Defending champions are the double Olympic gold medallists and multiple world-record holders, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro from Great Britain.

- This is the 30th anniversary FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final, and the fifth time for the event to take place in the USA.

- Los Angeles hosted the Final in 1995, and it has subsequently been staged in Las Vegas in 2005, 2007, 2009 and again this year.

2015 Reem Acra World Cup Final field:

Edward GAL/Glock’s Undercover (NED)
Fabienne LÜTKEMEIER/D’Agostino (GER)
Isabell WERTH /Don Johnson/El Santo (GER)
Hans Peter MINDERHOUD/Glok’s Flirt (NED)
Morgan BARBANCON MESTRE/Painted Black (ESP)
Paulinda FRIBERG/Di Lapponia T (SWE)
Malin HAMILTON/Fleetwood (SWE)
Elena SIDNEVA /Romeo Star (RUS)
Tatiana DOROFEEVA /Kartsevo Upperville (RUS)
Steffen PETERS/Legolas 92 (USA)
Laura GRAVES /Verdades (USA)
Charlotte DUJARDIN/Valegro (GBR)
Lars PETERSEN/Mariett (DEN)
Mikala GUNDERSEN/My Lady (DEN)
Inessa MERKULOVA/Mister X (RUS)