Peter Lutz Rides Robin de Ponthual to Victory in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage
Las Vegas, NV
- The South Point Equestrian Arena was electric as thirty horse and rider pairs representing eight countries competed in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage. Traveling all the way from New York to compete for valuable World Cup points, Peter Lutz pulled out all the stops for a superb win aboard Robin de Ponthual (owned by Katherine Gallagher and M. Michael Meller).
Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual
Cheers filled the arena as each rider was introduced in the Parade of Nations during Opening Ceremonies, setting the tone for an exciting event. The rich black curtain with the Longines jumbotron captured the action on course, while those who couldn't attend watched at home on FEI.TV
The Parade of Nations in the South Point Arena
Oohs and aahs from the crowd came at every turn, impressed with the thrills and spills of show jumping.
The stands filled to catch the action. Photo by Alex Rheinheimer
German Course Designer Olaf Petersen, Jr.'s track tested the wide array of competitors. With World Cup Champions, Olympic Medalists and CSI5* athletes mixed with up-and-coming horses and riders, the significant jump challenges included a scopey triple combination at 9a,b,c, a 1.60m wall at fence 11 and the last jump, a 1.60m vertical coming off a bending six strides at the short end of the ring. As is often the case in an indoor arena, the jumps come up quickly, so the track in-between was key.
"The footing is excellent," commented Petersen. "The horses are jumping really, really well, very scopey. I was a little surprised when the riders walked the course and I heard comments that it would be on the easy side. I always get a little nervous, but I trust my feeling and my feeling is usually right. Most of the time, if they think it's easy, then rails fall everywhere."
Of the 16 efforts on course, each jump with the exception of number 12 fell at least once. Thirty competitors qualified for the class, and of those, four riders parted company with their mounts, including Alec Lawler on Equine Ventures' Agamemnon, who was clean until the last vertical, where he had an unfortunate miscommunication with his horse and hit the ground. Peter Petschenig, who won the Markel Insurance Grand Prix Series Final on Thursday, struggled in the triple combination and also had an unfortunate dismount. Not alone, the triple also was the cause for elimination for Alyssa Hecht aboard Calero and Richard Spooner with Chivas Z.
Tenth to go, Matt Williams riding the Dutch gelding Valinski S (Michael Dorman and Wyndmont, owners), illustrated that the course could be ridden without fault. Simon Nizri galloped in twelfth and had a clear round on his Belgian gelding E Muze Yek, ensuring a jump-off.
Matt Williams and Valinski S
Six more rode the course fault-free. Among those were young superstars Audrey Coulter with her new mount, the smart and scopey bay Belgian gelding Domino (owned by Copernicus Stables, LLC), Jos Verlooy on Sunshine, a talented nine-year-old Belgian gelding by Diamant de Semilly (Axel Verlooy and Eurohorse BVBA, owners), and Lucy Davis on Old Oak Farm's Swedish gelding Barron, fresh off a CSI5* win in Thermal. Also joining the jump-off group was Kent Farrington, currently number two in the FEI World Rankings, on the bay Belgian gelding Gazelle (owned by Robin Parsky and Kent Farrington), Peter Lutz on Robin, and the winner of the $35,000 FEI Speed Classic on Thursday evening, Eduardo Menezes on his gray Oldenburg partner, Quintol.
Petersen's jump-off course allowed riders to leave out strides in bending lines and make a very tight turn back to the triple (now double) combination at elements 9a and b. First into the ring, Williams flew though the course in a clean and efficient 34.25 seconds, challenging the rest to be even faster and clean. Third to go, Coulter bested Williams with a time of 33.61 for the lead.
Audrey Coulter and Domino
Verlooy also jumped a clear round in 34.30, not quite fast enough to catch the top. Second-to-last to go, Lutz artfully guided his mount according to plan, leaving out a stride to the final vertical, shaving off 0.4 seconds to stop the clock in 33.21.
The FEI vertical at the top of the ring was the nemesis for Nizri, Farrington and Menezes, who each had four at the same fence.
Lutz, who has trained a number of top horses and riders over the years, is deserving of this time in the limelight. Having the ride on Robin for about a year, he found the horse through McLain Ward and is pleased with his progress.
"I told Michael Meller about the horse, and Katherine and John Gallagher made it possible for us to get him. We've been bringing him along for the last year. We took our time in Florida; we were just learning and getting to know each other. I think it really clicked in the spring and it really clicked at South Hampton. We had some great results this fall. I'm really excited, he just keeps getting better and jumping clear rounds. We've been in the jump-off a few times and we had a rail or a little thing that didn't quite allow us to be in the top one or two. Tonight it finally came together."
Peter Lutz and Robin de Ponthual with (l-r) Melissa Brandes, Blenheim EquiSports VP of Marketing; Gregg DeLong, with his wife, Evette, and daughter, Ashley; Robert Ridland, President of Blenheim EquiSports, and Connie Sawyer, Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League Manager
After this win and a fourth in the $215,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York, the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals are within reach for Lutz. With plans to compete in two more qualifiers this coming winter, both in Florida, Lutz has a goal of heading to Gothenburg, Sweden, next March.
The Las Vegas National is the final stop on a West Coast tour for Lutz and his owners. "To win is just a bonus and I couldn't be happier. It's been a great journey, and this couldn't be a better ending."
A patient group of fans waited in the foyer for the much-anticipated autograph signing session. Lutz, Coulter and Williams joined the long table of top riders who participated in the popular post-class event.
Fans filled their programs with their favorite riders' signatures
President of Blenheim EquiSports, Robert Ridland, remarked on how pleased he was with The Las Vegas National Horse Show, now in its tenth year, and that this was only the beginning of great events to come.
"The South Point is an amazing facility, and I am absolutely honored to have such an incredible team. The Blenheim EquiSports team has been behind me from the very beginning; they're all here. This is an amazing field of horses and riders out here, just world class sport. To see that crowd, and see what this has turned into - this is a journey, and we're going to get bigger and better."
$100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Las Vegas, presented by Interactive Mortgage
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping, 2015/2016 Season
North American West Coast League
(click image for complete standings list)
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping, 2015/2016 Season
North American East Coast League
(click image for complete standings list)
ABOUT THE LONGINES FEI WORLD CUP™ JUMPING NORTH AMERICAN LEAGUE
# # #
The North American League began in August of this year across seven East and seven West Coast venues in three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada. The Las Vegas National Horse Show is one of only 14 events chosen, and this is the only leg of this prestigious tour that will be hosted in this city.
Notably, eleven of the events chosen for the leagues, including the Las Vegas National Horse Show, were featured in the North American Riders Group Top 25 rankings.
The North American League boasts a minimum of US $2.4 million prize money across the series, and offers the best Jumping athletes from North America and around the world the chance to qualify for the jackpot of more than US $1.4 million (€1.3 million) on offer annually at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
A total of 14 athletes from the new North American league will qualify for next year's prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg (SWE) from March 23-28, 2016. The top seven athletes from the East Coast U.S., top three from West Coast U.S., and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico, will qualify for next year's Final, alongside winners of 15 leagues around the world.
ABOUT INTERACTIVE MORTGAGE
Interactive Mortgage a new company launched in 2015, finances new home purchases as well as refinancing a homeowners current loan to help improve their financial position. The company's goal is to bring an interactive experience to the consumer which the consumer controls rather than having a salesperson sell them on a particular product. With Interactive Mortgage, the consumer is allowed to be the deciding factor.
ABOUT BLENHEIM EQUISPORTS
An equestrian event management company based in San Juan Capistrano, CA, that produces equestrian events in three locations: San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas, NV. This includes USEF "Premier" and "National" rated hunter-jumper shows featuring multiple grand prix events, a Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League event, USHJA International Hunter Derbies, Pony Finals, Medal Finals and more.