Defending champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum remains at the top of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final leaderboard in Las Vegas after winning the second, jump-off leg on Friday.

Last to go in the 13-horse jump-off, the peerless Shutterfly (pictured above) looked if he already has a hat-trick of titles in the bag. With the first two days’ results converted into points, Shutterfly now has a two-penalty lead over the USA’s McLain Ward (Sapphire) and Albert Zoer of Holland (Oki Doki), with last year’s Gothenburg final runner-up, Rich Fellers, holding onto fourth with Flexible.

Listen to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s interview

Switzerland’s Christina Liebherr lost her second-place ranking when No Mercy was distracted by a disturbance on the PA system and had to be re-presented at an oxer. Four faults and further time penalties saw them drop down the order.

Despite lowering a fence in the first round of Friday’s leg, Britain’s Ben Maher and Robin Hood have maintained equal eighth position, though with 14 points they will struggle to make an impression on the leaders. Michael Whitaker and Portofino also had four faults and have dropped three places to 21st.

With Las Vegas unlikely to stage another final until 2015, the home side are desperate for a win, though Ward did not seem certain he could depose Shutterfly.

“I was a bit anxious in the first round which was hard for Sapphire because it all about adding strides, which doesn’t suit her. Today, we just couldn’t have gone any faster.”

First time World Cup course-designer Anthony D’Ambrosio’s Grand Prix track was a triumph, using the irregular shape of the Thomas and Mack arena to test the horses’ lengthening and shortening capabilities. He aimed for eight clears.

“I may have been a bit conservative tonight, because I was thinking ahead to Sunday. I revisited the track over months; in the end you are just pleased when the competition arrives as then the tweaking can stop,” he said.

Friday’s results

1. Meredith Michaels Beerbaum (GER), Shutterfly, 0/32.77 sec, 0 pnts
2. McLain Ward (USA), Sapphire, 0/33.77 sec, 2 pnts
3. Albert Zoer (NED), Okidoki, 0/34.72 sec, 4 pnts
4. Beezie Madden (USA), Danny Boy, 0/34.83 sec, 21 pnts
5. Richard Spooner (USA), Ace, 0/65.97 sec, 15 pnts
6. Helena Lundbäck (SWE), Madick, 0/37.20 sec, 18 pnts
=14. Michael Whitaker (GBR), Portofino, 4/76.11 sec, 19 pnts
=14. Ben Maher (GBR), Robin Hood W, 4/78.19 sec, 14 pnts

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