A Fierce Fight for First in Thursday’s Round Against the Clock. Bertram Allen and Molly Malone V (c) McCool Photography.
Back in the U.S.A., the 2015 LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final I speed round lit up the Thomas & Mack Center arena tonight. In typical Vegas style, the pre-show entertained the crowd, including the pow of pyrotechnics.
As the smoke cleared, nineteen-year-old Jos Verlooy of Belgium showed the crowd how to ride a speed class with a clean round in 68.27. Not a stranger to winning on American soil, Verlooy and his eleven-year-old mount Domino topped an international field in the inaugural Los Angeles Masters last fall. The pair ultimately finished eighth out of forty starters this evening.
Superbly set, American course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio tested agility and speed with a track that rewarded precision. A quarter of the class rode without fault, but it was the quickest track that claimed the prize.
Third to go, Frenchman Patrice Delaveau aboard Orient Express HDC shaved almost two seconds off Verlooy’s time, stopping the clock in a quick 66.44. Executing tight and accurate turns, Penelope Leprevost of France on her partner Vagabond de la Pomme looked as if she might catch her fellow countryman. Close but not quite fast enough, they clocked a time of 67.57.
Not until the twentieth horse galloped in was Delaveau’s time challenged when Dutchman Jur Vrieling and VDL Zirocco Blue N.O.P. tied for the lead in exactly 66.44 seconds.
Excitement escalated as rails, refusals and riders retiring proved the challenge of the timed track. Enter nineteen-year-old Irishman Bertram Allen aboard the magnificent Molly Malone V. With a flawless performance similar to the one that earned this pair the win in the speed round at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ last summer in Normandy, they galloped through the timers in 65.45 to take over the lead with less than ten left to go.
Also nineteen years old, next in was the well-loved Irish Sporthorse Flexible with his fifty-five-year-old partner Rich Fellers. The crowd went wild for the American favorites, who won the coveted FEI World Cup Final™ title in 2012. “He feels as good as he’s ever felt. I think the crowd took four or five years off his age. I felt his back rise up and off we went.”
In classic Flexible style, the mighty stallion flew around the course. Fast but not quite as fast as the mare before him, the clock stopped at 66.11, second fastest of the night.
Illustrating that these superstar equine athletes truly know their job, Allen explained his experience with his mare. “She’s quite a strong character, I’ve had her quite a long time and she’s got her own special ways,” the young talent said. “This morning when I rode her in the arena, she was running away with me. I really wasn’t happy with her and I was wondering, ‘What am I going to do?’ And tonight in the practice ring, I had a different horse. She was back.”
Whether you say it is the luck of the Irish or lucky number nineteen, as Press Chief Marty Bauman aptly stated, “It was a good night to be nineteen and Irish.”
The stellar show jumping continues tomorrow night as the jumps increase in size and the course increases in difficulty with the second round of the LONGINES FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
The LONGINES FEI World CupTM Jumping Final includes Thursday evening’s one-round speed class, Friday evening’s jump-off class and Sunday afternoon’s two-round Final, as well asSaturday evening’s $75,000 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas.
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.
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.