Las Vegas Warm Up Session Draws a Crowd

Thu, 04/16/2009 - 00:00
2009 World Cup Finals

Horses and riders took the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the unusually-shaped Las Vegas ring on Wednesday 15 April 2009.

The 20 x 60m only fits by a margin into the Thomas and Mack Centre and huge stands rise above the ring at the edges of the white fences.

Defending champion Anky Van Grunsven took her turn with Painted Black and Poland's Michal Rapciewicz showed why he and his horse Randon won the Central European qualifying series.

Anky had her hands full with the fresh but willing Painted Black. "He was a bit hectic for a moment, but that's because a few riders rode very closely past him and that makes this stallion a bit nervous," Anky explained.

Joining Van Grunsven in Las Vegas is her longtime rival Isabell Werth. Werth is the undisputed favourite for the title with Madeleine Winter-Schulze's Hanoverian gelding Satchmo (by Sao Paulo x Legat). She has won the World Cup Final on two occasions-1992 and 2007 in Las Vegas when van Grunsven was home in Holland after having just given birth. 

The two rivals have traded places on the podium for years. Each has won eight Olympic medals. When Werth won Gold in 1996, van Grunsven took Silver. In 2000, the results were reversed, with van Grunsven winning Gold.  At the 2006 World Equestrian Games, Van Grunsven won Gold in the Grand Prix Freestyle, where Werth won Bronze, and Werth won Gold in the Grand Prix Special, where van Grunsven won silver.

But there was something about Steffen Peters and Ravel during the warm up - a kind of quiet confidence, easiness and trust. It was like watching a pair of old friends in familiar conversation and enjoying each other's company. There is a maturity in this relationship now that has never been evident before, and Steffen knows it. As they executed all the difficult movements, Steffen patted his big, powerful horse gently on the neck to reassure him. It was picture of relaxation and concentration.

"He's in really good shape for the last two weeks, he feels very supple and comfortable in himself and he produced one of the best performances of his life two weeks ago. He's one of those horses that knows he can do it and wants to do it and I'm hoping we can hold onto what we have right now" the American rider said after coming out of the ring. "I want to be careful about making predictions though" he added, "I'll do my best, but with riders like Anky and Isabel you have to be realistic - it would be a really good result to finish in the top four in a competition at this level - although if you don't want to win then you shouldn't be here!" he added.

The Swedish Studbook (ASVH) welcomes guests to a unique breeders’meeting at the Thomas & Mack Arena on Friday April 17. The Swedish Studbook invites everyone interested in learning about breeding to attend this great event. Join us 8:00 - 9:30 a.m. at arena section 227, balcony level.  Meeting attendees have a chance to win a breeding to Briar 899, donated by the stallion’s breeder and owner Hans-Yngve Göransson. Briar has competed in eight World Cups, three Olympic Games, four European Championships and two World Championships. Briar will officially say goodbye to the World at his last show appearance in Las Vegas.

On the scene photos - copyrighted:
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