Articles: Press Release
Michael Whitaker Wows the Crowd with a Win in the Las Vegas Grand Prix
at 2007 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals
Marty Bauman or Jamie Saults, (702) 895-1086,
Las Vegas, NV - April 21, 2007--Michael Whitaker, the Olympic veteran of
Great Britain, proved that last was not least when he won the $75,000 Las
Vegas Grand Prix at the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals at the Thomas & Mack
Center in Las Vegas. Riding Suncal Portofino 63, Whitaker was the last to
go in the jump-off of five but managed to put in the fastest clean round in
a time of 35.50 seconds.
At first it looked as if John Pearce of Canada had the top prize all sewn up
on Urioso. Pearce rode first in the class and first in the jump-off, setting
the pace with a faultless performance in a jump-off time of 36.97, which
held up for second place. Teammate Jill Henselwood and Black Ice tried to
beat their time, but incurred four faults in the process. Belgian rider
Patrick McEntee decided to go slower for a clean round on Ever Mury Marais
Z, but the strategy failed as they also had a rail down for four faults.
Richard Spooner of the US beat Pearce's time, but also knocked down a rail
and finished third with four faults in a time of 36.25 seconds. Whitaker
entered his Dutch warmblood mare in the class after being eliminated from
the World Cup Finals. The pair had a much better time in this event.
"She was absolutely perfect," said Whitaker. "I knew I had to go for it
because John was pretty quick, but she was bang on today, back to her old
The rematch of the World Champion Hunter Rider World Cup Team Hunter
Challenge also took place on Saturday. Four top U.S. hunter riders, namely
John French, Scott Stewart, Peter Pletcher and Louise Serio faced four top
European jumper riders in two rounds of jumping on top class Hunter horses.
In 2005, the US team lost to the Europeans, but this time they were
victorious thanks in part to Michael Whitaker. Fresh off his win in the
Grand Prix, Whitaker jumped right back on a hunter only to go off course the
first time around for a zero score. Louise Serio and John French gave the
Europeans a chance when each had a refusal, but then Rodrigo Pessoa of
Brazil also incurred faults when his horse refused and put the US back in
the lead. Teammates, Christian Ahlmann and Marcus Ehning of Germany fared
better, but the US lead was too big to overcome. "We'll beat them next
time," said Ehning.
A total of 28 riders will participate in the marquee event, the Rolex FEI
World Cup Show Jumping Final III on Sunday. Points calculated from the
combined results of the competition on both Thursday and Friday will set the
starting lineup for Sunday's final which will determine this year's Rolex
FEI World Cup Show Jumping Champion.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany and Shutterfly will try to recreate
the magic of 2005 when they were crowned World Cup Champions right here in
Las Vegas. Michaels-Beerbaum and Steve Guerdat of Switzerland are tied for
the lead heading into the final challenge at the Thomas & Mack, but with two
rounds to go, it is still anybody's championship.
Started in 1979, the FEI World Cup Jumping Final is an annual international
showdown among the world's best show jumping horses and riders. The 2007
event will mark the seventh FEI World Cup Jumping Final to be held in the
United States, following Finals in Baltimore in 1980, Tampa, FL in 1989, Del
Mar, CA in 1992 and the three in Las Vegas in 2000, 2003 and 2005. In the
28 finals held through 2006, United States riders have emerged with the most
titles, having won the championship seven times.
First held in 1986, the FEI World Cup Dressage Final has been held in the
U.S. only twice, in 1995 in Los Angeles and 2005 in Las Vegas. The
Netherlands has dominated the competition, winning seven times, followed by
Germany with six. The United States won its first title in 2003 when Debbie
McDonald rode Brentina to the Championship. Brentina is owned by Parry and
Peggy Thomas of Las Vegas, for whom the Thomas & Mack Center, the venue for
the World Cup Finals, is named.
Las Vegas Events, Inc. (LVE), producer of the 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007 FEI
World Cup Finals, was founded in 1983. LVE has grown with Las Vegas as the
city emerged as one of the world's top special event and resort
destinations. A private, not-for-profit organization, LVE is funded by
hotel room tax and serves as the exclusive major special events agency for
the city. Since 1991, Las Vegas Events has produced, presented or supported
more than 390 events, which have driven more than 3.3 million visitors to
the area, resulting in an economic impact of more than $2 billion.
Fans wanting to bring home the excitement of every ride of the 2007 Rolex
FEI World CupTM Finals will be able to do so with full-coverage DVDs. DVDs
of the Dressage and Jumping Finals will be available for each of Friday,
Saturday, & Sunday's Sessions and will include every minute of action from
those sessions. The DVDs of each session will be available for sale at the
Thomas & Mack Center starting Saturday and will also be available on line.
The Animal Planet television network will televise a special 90-minute
broadcast of the 2007 Rolex FEI World CupTM Finals on Saturday, May 12
beginning at 9:00 p.m. (EDT). The telecast will include the Finals in both
jumping and dressage.
Further information on the 2007 Rolex FEI World CupT Jumping and Dressage
Finals is available on line at the official Las Vegas World Cup website at