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Budweiser World Cup Final in Las Vegas Excites the Show Jumping World
German Marcus Ehning Emerges as Champion

Las Vegas, NV—April 22, 2003—Marcus Ehning of Germany won the 25th annual FEI Show Jumping World Cup Final when the world’s best show jumping horses and riders met to do battle at Budweiser World Cup 2003, April 16-20 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The international event featured 41 riders from around the world who competed for the prestigious title of World Cup Champion. Spectacular presentation of the sport with laser light shows, Las Vegas show acts, and the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales made the World Cup a hit with everyone.

Ehning put in a faultess performance in the final round of Budweiser World Cup competition on Sunday, April 20, riding his Oldenburg mare Anka to victory. Three-time World Cup Champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil had to settle for the runner-up position this time aboard Baloubet du Rouet, owned by Diago Pereira Coutinho. Third went to Malin Baryard of Sweden riding Christina Larsson’s H&M Butterfly Flip. The top U.S. rider was Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI, who tied for fifth aboard Anthem, owned by the Summit Syndicate.

Ehning received a wonderful birthday present a day late, as he had celebrated his 29th birthday on Saturday. “I can’t believe it,” he said. “I never thought I would win. If you think too much about it, it can hurt you, you need to go day to day.”

There was much to think about going into the last rounds of competition on the final day. Competition was fierce, and the top three were less than a rail apart in the placings. Going into Sunday’s first round, Ehning and Pessoa were tied for second place with two faults, and Baryard was in the lead with a perfect score of zero. Ehning, a Sydney Olympic team Gold Medalist, went clear, Pessoa had a rail down to give him a total of six faults, and Baryard dropped a rail for four faults total.

The second and final round saw Pessoa go clear, putting pressure on the remaining entries. The atmosphere was thick as Baryard entered the ring. If the young Swede had even one rail down, there would be no chance to win, as that would give her a total of eight faults to Pessoa’s six. Unfortunately, she had a rail down and dropped to third place.

Ehning was the last to go and had no room for error. One rail would tie him with Pessoa and force a jump-off. Two rails would give Pessoa the title. Ehning and Anka rose to the occasion leaving all the rails up and claiming the title of World Cup Champion. He threw down the reins and raised his arms in the air as the crowd rose to their feet cheering for the pair. It was a spectacular finish for the most prestigious show jumping competition in the world this year.

Ehning’s win made it two in a row for Germany, following Otto Becker’s win at Leipzig last year. Germany now has three wins overall with Ludger Beerbaum having won at Gothenburg in 1993. The U.S. leads all nations with seven World Cup titles.

The opening rounds leading up to the dramatic finish of the year’s most important equestrian event in the entertainment capital of the world were just as action-packed as the concluding ones.

Thursday, April 17, featured McLain Ward of Brewster, NY, riding Viktor, owned by Ward and Harry Gill, winning the first round of Budweiser Word Cup competition, a speed class in which faults are converted into seconds.

Ward, one of the 14 riders representing the United States, had one rail down in the speed class, but was able to claim the win with his lightning fast time. The pair had a final score of 72.73. Baryard finished without any jumping faults, but at a slower time, placing her second. Pessoa was third.

“He’s a great horse,” said Ward. “I made some small mistakes, but he bailed me out.”

Baryard was the runner-up in the second round of Budweiser World Cup 2003 on Friday evening, making her the overall leader going into Sunday’s Final competition. The 28-year-old had a double clear, but could not beat the impressive jump-off time of Markus Merschformann of Germany. 33.25. Riding Camirez, owned by Gutsverwalltung Berl, Merschformann won the class with a faultless performance in a time of 31.60. Baryard was second with a time of 33.25, and Ehning finished in third place with a time of 34.04.

The top U.S. rider of the evening was Leslie Howard of Westport, CT, on Priobert De Kalvarie, owned by Higher Grund Farm, who secured a place in the jump-off in the initial round, but had a rail down in the jump-off finishing sixth for the evening.

On Saturday afternoon, Richard Spooner of Glendale, CA, riding Robinson, owned by the Half Moon Investment Group, won the Grand Prix of Las Vegas at the Budweiser World Cup in an exciting jump-off. The United States swept the top three places in this international competition with Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, NY, coming in second on Judgement, owned by Iron Spring Farm, and Peter Wylde, who currently resides Maastricht, Holland, finishing third aboard Mania Jolly, owned by Double H. Farm.

“This is a special win for me, especially coming with Robinson,” Spooner said. “He is a great horse who really changed my career and my life. He is the best friend I have and I’m very happy he got to show what he can do here at the World Cup Final.”

Also on Saturday, six of the World Cup riders threw on blue jeans and donned cowboy hats in order to compete against six World Champion barrel racers in a barrel racing competition. Pessoa won the class easily, defeating the likes of three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Ludger Beerbaum of Germany, 2001 World Cup Champion Markus Fuchs of Switzerland, and U.S. stars Ward, Howard, and Norman Dello Joio of Wellington, FL.

Opening day featured an opportunity for spectators to cheer on their neighbors as the best local amateur riders of the state competed in the Nevada Team Invitational. The Red Team emerged victorious, consisting of Team Captain Amy Sears, Celebrity Captain and World Cup competitor, Richard Spooner, Darlene Hayes, Amanda Meyers, Whitney Stewart, Brittany Smith and Rita Koentopp.

In addition, special ceremonies were held during the show. Prior to the start of Sunday’s World Cup competition, four U.S. riders received Silver Medals for competing in 100 World Cup competitions. They were Donald Cheska, Beezie Madden, Eric Hasbrouck and Susie Hutchison.

World Cup icon Max Ammann, director of the World Cup for the last 25 years, was honored for his service and dedication in a retirement celebration. Ammann created the World Cup and was largely responsible for making it the truly great event that it is today. Six former World Cup Champions paid tribute to him in the arena on Friday night on the occasion of his retirement.

Beginning on Earth Day 2003 (April 19), the Athens Environmental Foundation (AEF) launched an 18-month tree-planting project that will circle the globe along the 2004 Olympic torch route forming a figurative “Global Olive Wreath. Las Vegas, host of Budweiser World Cup, joined the project by planting a tree that was presented on behalf of Olympic athletes by three-time Gold Medalist Ludger Beerbaum of Germany who was in Las Vegas to compete for show jumping’s top prize.

“The World Cup Final has brought the Olympic movement right to our doorstep and we are pleased to support this important cause,” said Robert Maxey, Chairman of Budweiser World Cup 2003, who received the tree on behalf of Las Vegas, along with Daren Libonati, Director of the Thomas & Mack Center.

Beginning with the opening ceremonies and lasting throughout the weekend of non-stop equestrian action, the 30,000 spectators who attended the Budweiser World Cup 2003 were treated to dazzling laser light shows, brilliant fireworks, Las Vegas showgirls, variety acts, daily appearances by the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, and equestrian demonstrations, including a dressage demonstration by 1999 Pan American Games double Gold Medalist and 2002 World Equestrian Games team Silver Medalist Debbie McDonald on her brilliant mare Brentina, owned by Parry and Peggy Thomas. The packed stands appreciated every minute of it making the whole event one to be long remembered.

For complete results from the Budweiser World Cup 2003 and photos, please visit their website


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