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The FEI World Cup Finals - A Recap of Dressage

May 6, 2009
A pas de deux with Gunter Seidel and Beth Ball riding Grand Prix horses to the Phantom of the Opera. They brought the house down!
A pas de deux with Gunter Seidel and Beth Ball riding Grand Prix horses to the Phantom of the Opera. They brought the house down!

During the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas this past April, the amazing pair of Steffen Peters and Ravel demonstrated everything desired in dressage, in both the Grand Prix and Freestyle. During the Olympic Games in Hong Kong last summer, Steffen Peters and Ravel finished just out of the medals in fourth place, amid a lot of controversy about judging. However, in Las Vegas, this duo's harmony, suppleness, energy, and precision resulted in their placing first with a score of 84.95% in the freestyle. They beat out the world dressage queens of Isabel Werth on Sachmo (84.5%) from Germany and Anky van Grunsven on IPS Painted Black (82.15%) from the Netherlands.

Competing in the Grand Prix and the Freestyle events in Las Vegas were 11 representatives from all over the world, including the USA, Germany, Sweden, Columbia, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and Poland. A total of $330,000 in prize money was rewarded, including $104,600 for the winner.

Eight-time World Cup finalist Jan Brink and Briar performed their freestyle to “My Number One” for the very last time and made a special lap of honor before the Swedish stallion was retired from his long and successful career.

In the 23-year history of the World Cup, the only other American to place was Debbie McDonald on the legendary Brentina who carried Debbie to World Cup success in 2003. A special retirement ceremony for the 18-year-old mare was held during the Saturday evening performance. This was particularly moving. as Brentina had recently undergone colic surgery. There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as Debbie rode her in for the last time, dismounted. and removed her saddle. Brentina was up for showing off one last time for the audience by performing exuberant passages as she was led out of the arena.

Another first was a Pas de Deux class that showcased three duos performing in costume to music. Each pair featured an Olympic rider and one of their students, with both riding Grand Prix horses. While this was not an official class, the performance of Gunter Seidel and Beth Ball to the music of the "Phantom of the Opera" was a smashing success, resulting in an encore the following night. These performances truly take riding into the world of art.

The World Cup was truly a Las Vegas production with all the glitz, glamour, lights, noise, and swarms of people from all over the world. (Makes eavesdropping in the restroom very interesting.) There was never a boring minute and any spare time was spent at the huge trade fair, checking out all the new stuff. It can really tax a credit card!

What is the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals?
It is the world's premier annual show jumping and dressage championships.

The FEI World Cup Jumping Finals were first held in 1979. The United States has won the jumping finals seven times, which is more than any other nation. The 2009 FEI World Cup Jumping Final was the eighth time the event has been held in the United States.

The FEI World Cup Dressage Finals were first held in 1986. This event has been dominated by riders from the Netherlands and Germany. The United States finally won its first title in 2003, with Debbie McDonald on Brentina. The 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final was the fourth time the event has been held in the United States.

Learn more about the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals at www. worldcuplasvegas.com.

Gunter Seidel and Beth Ball