FEI World Cup dressage

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World Cup Dressage FinalThe Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Finals are taking place at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas, US (16-18 April). All eyes will be on Britain’s reigning champions and multiple world-record holders, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, as they go head-to-head with 17 other top partnerships from around the world.

The 30th anniversary of the World Cup dressage final gets underway with the grand prix on Wednesday evening (16 April), with the new champion crowned after the second competition, the grand prix freestyle, which takes place at 12noon local time on Saturday (18 April).

All of the horses taking part passed their veterinary inspections on Wednesday (15 April), to check they were fit to compete. This necessary part of the competition provided some additional entertainment with some over-exuberant equines giving their handlers a hard time. Morgan Barbacon’s 18-year-old stallion, Painted Black, demonstrated that age is no guarantee of good behaviour when breaking free and going for a quick gallop around the ring before being recaptured.

Defending champion Charlotte Dujardin admitted that Valegro was feeling the heat. “The temperature has definitely hit him,” she said .”He doesn’t have long to acclimatise before he starts to compete. I’m hoping he’s not suffering from jet-lag!

The unusual shape and size of the Thomas & Mack Arena presents additional challenges for equestrian competitions. The venue more regularly hosts concerts and sporting fixtures, including boxing, football and basketball tournaments.

It’s a bit like a huge lunge-pen!” said Charlotte. “I’m told it’s bigger than Olympia but it doesn’t feel like it, maybe it’s because the seats rise so high around the ring. How are they going to fit seven judges in there?

Horse & Hound’s Pippa Roome is in Las Vegas and will be posting reports on all the action here on HorseandHound.co.uk, and don’t miss the full report in the new-look Horse & Hound magazine, on sale 23 April