Wednesday, April 29, 2015

World Cup Trip: Beyond Horses

All mornings of our World Cup trip, except the first, were without events, so we toured the University of Nevada at Las Vegas campus, which is where the Thomas & Mack Center, where the events were held, is located.

The architecture of the campus buildings is beautiful.

A large "flashlight" sculpture in the center of campus was simply... well... odd.

Ruth liked the statue in front of the Thomas & Mack Center, the university's arena. Tarkanian was a well-loved coach at her husband's high school. Ruth says, "Tarkanian coached at Redlands High while Roy was a student there (and I was too, but I didn’t know anything about the coach). He then moved around—to Riverside, Pasadena, Long Beach, and finally to Nevada. He was known for recruiting at risk kids and making them play with discipline and success."

Las Vegas is in the desert and the campus has many desert gardens and plants that were in bloom. The campus also has a great art museum that we spent time in.


A striated rock? Or petrified wood?

 Of course, I take photos of birds wherever I go. The campus and Las Vegas (at least the part we were in) was full of pigeons, Great-tailed Grackles, and Mockingbirds.

Two Northern Mockingbirds have a stand off

Great-tailed (I presume) Grackles were everywhere

This Lesser Goldfinch was in the xeric gardens on campus

 The world off campus was pure Las Vegas: a zillion taxis and limousines, casinos and flashing lights.

 Even the World Cup events had Las Vegas style entertainments at every break. Here two aerial artists perform above the arena.

 Although Las Vegas is mostly entertainment and overconsumption, we found a bit of environmental awareness in areas near campus. One person, I presume a student, has painted city structures with endangered plants and animals of Nevada.

 Every day we walked two miles to the Thomas & Mack Center... and campus... past casinos and cabarets and glitter. But one horse-drawn carriage with a frozen-in-time driver along our "Paradise" street always made me feel more at home. Here I asked Ruth to fake climbing aboard so I could pretend this was how we went to the World Cup events. It was a pleasant delusion.

 I never got a photo of the enormous Thomas & Mack Center from a good angle. This was taken as we all streamed out of the center Saturday night, after Ruth and my last event.

Sunday we flew home, Ruth to Sacramento, I to Portland via Salt Lake City. The mountains were snow-tipped as I flew into Salt Lake.

 I was on the wrong side of the plane to see Mt. Hood when my Salt Lake flight arrived in Portland that evening. But I was happy to see the green and feel the cool. It was a fun trip, but there's no place like home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Canadian Pacific Grand Prix of Las Vegas (Jumping)

The last event Ruth and I went to in Las Vegas was the Saturday night Grand Prix jumping competition. The $75,000 Grand Prix of Las Vegas sponsored by Canadian Pacific was an FEI jumping class open to all World Cup horses that did not advance to Sunday's Final, and to riders in the East and West Coast World Cup Leagues who had earned 20 or more World Cup points (however one does that).

The winner was presented with the inaugural "John Quirk Cup" established in memory of John Quirk, a west coast show jumping horse owner, breeder and magazine publisher who played a leading role in bringing the FEI World Cup Jumping Final to Las Vegas in 2000. He also wrote many of the very excellent articles explaining jumping in the World Cup program. His writing is spiked with humor, making some of the rather difficult explanations palatable, if not fully comprehensible (like how they score the World Cup... I won't even try...)

As always, I took a zillion photos, between balcony railings from where we sat high in the bleachers. Final results in captions. Only the first 12 places were "placed" (in the money: U.S. dollars). Photos in order of go. Penalty points are rails down plus time faults.

two refusals and you're out (sometimes the horses are smarter than the riders)

Darius de la Ferme Rose



10th  ($1,875)


Agamemnon was one of 3 horses to jump clear in the first round and make it to the jump-off that decided 1st, 2nd and 3rd places

Singular LS la Silla

4th   ($7,500)

Coral Reef Baloufino


The Dude

21st (tied for last) with another rider who elected to retire before finishing the course


7th  ($3,000)





Ferro Dc
21st, tied for last after leaving the course before finishing. There can be many reasons: course too difficult for horse that day, too many rails down to make it worthwhile to continue, rider senses something off with the horse, who knows. These riders all take wonderful care of their horses and do not want to risk their injury or loss of confidence.

Romanee Cece

12th,  ($1,875)

Kiwi Iron Mark
Kiwi Iron Mark was the 2nd horse to jump clear and enter the jump-off

Air Force One


Ragtime Rouge

11th  ($1,875)


6th  ($4,125)

Semira de Saulieu

8th  ($2,250)


5th   ($5, 250)




9th  ($2,250)



The last horse to go in round 1 was the 3rd horse to jump clear and enter the jump-off

The Jump Off...  The jumps were in a bit different places so the balcony railings that kept me from taking photos of all but a few jumps in Round 1, now interfered with virtually all the jumps. My camera focused on the railing instead of the horse and the horse came out blurred.

Agamemnon, with our balcony rail through the rider
Agamemnon jumped first and went clear, placing him 1st... temporarily

Kiwi Iron Mark
For some reason, I did not get a photo of the reader board after Katie Laurie's jump-off. She went clear and slightly faster, 37.79 sec., than Alec Lawler on Agamemnon, 39.36 sec., so was 1st to win the John Quirk Cup and $18,750.

Jumping last in the jump-off, Todd Minikus had one rail down for 4 faults and 3rd place.  $11,250.

A happy Katie Laurie from New Zealand, winner of the inaugural John Quirk Cup