byEditorial Staff| Nov 17, 2017
It’s the final qualifying event of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League for the 2017 season, and all eyes will be on Sin City this weekend for Saturday’s $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas CSI4*-W. Among the potential hopefuls: last year’s victor Christian Heineking, Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Del Mar CSI5*-W champ Andy Kocher, and top-standing 2017 FEI World Cup™ Jumping riders Richard Spooner, Jamie Barge, and Jack Towell, among others.
In other words: anything could happen this year and there’s little doubt that all of North America’s top contenders will be looking to close their seasons out strong. But just what—besides a little luck—does it take to conquer Las Vegas? We’re taking a look back at the event’s most recent champions to find out.
2016: Christian Heineking & Aje Cluny
Christian Heineking and his mount Aje Cluny proved age is just a number when they rose to the occasion to win the 2016 $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas, narrowly inching out Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge. The class marked the 12-year-old gelding’s first major career win, and—like a fine wine—Heineking credited maturity for helping to develop “Cluny” from a nice prospect into a competitive, world-class horse.
- It’s never too late for your first big break. “[Cluny] had a late start, he’s a little bit older. He’s just getting there,” noted Heineking. “He keeps going better and better.”
- Expect the unexpected. “On the way from the combination to the wall, my horse was bucking a little bit, so that can be 1/100th of a second right there,” said Heineking of his track. Thankfully, Cluny settled down, and Heineking still managed to eek out Jorge by—yes—a mere 1/100th of a second!
2015: Peter Lutz & Robin du Ponthual
They say the harder your work, the luckier you get, which also applies to Peter Lutz’s winning round in the 2015 $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League qualifier at the CSI3* Las Vegas National. Aboard the 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Robin du Ponthual, Lutz marked his first-ever World Cup qualifier victory in Sin City.
- Take more risks. “I started to take a few more risks and to go a little bit faster,” said Lutz. “We did that a few times to get into the same rhythm and the same speed. I felt like it was [a] perfect combo of calm and fast for it all to come together.”
- Beat your students (if you must). Lutz’s main jump-off competition turned out to be his former student, Audrey Coulter aboard Domino, who’s time he ultimately beat by less than 1 second. “I spent a lot of years bringing along young horses and young riders, including Audrey, who I worked with for many years,” Lutz said after his win. “I’m really proud of them; many have gone to be great riders.”
- Use the crowd. “As soon as [“Robin”] steps into the ring, he really excels and is energized by the crowd. And there was such a great crowd here. It distracted him a little bit at first, but by the time he got into the jump-off, he was really focused.”
-Photo credits: FEI/Julia Borysewicz; McCool Photography; Erin Gilmore; Flickr.com/Daryl_Mitchell.