Viva Las Vegas: World Cup Finals Begin Today, Minus One Star Horse

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(Thanks to the US Equestrian Federation for help with this post.)

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(Photo: Isabel Werth and Daniel Pinto schooling in the arena yesterday. Photo courtesy of Kit Houghton/Rolex.)

Before the curtain had a chance to rise on the 2007 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada's Thomas and Mack Center, some unexpected news from the Danish camp brought a simultaneous chorus of concern and disappointment from fans and foes alike.

Denmark's Andreas Helgstrand announced in an afternoon press conference yesterday that his horse would not compete due to lameness. One of the favorites leading into the dressage competition, Blue Hors Matine, the striking 10-year-old grey Danish Warmblood that entertained and enchanted the crowds at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, by taking the Individual Bronze and Silver in the grand prix special and the freestyle respectively, was pulled after the mare showed fluid gathering around her front left pastern.

Read more about the situation and see a photo of Matine in the trot-up.

The mare has been the center of rumors: following her 81.25% score at WEG last August, the Danes were said to have been offered 9 million euros (approx US$12.25 million) for her...by an American, of course. They continue to deny the rumor.

Blue Horse Matine's scratch comes after a news-filled week on the international dressage and show jumping scenes, with several horses scratching before the flights even left Europe. Dutch team chef d'equipe Sjef Jansen shocked the dressage world by resigning his post. His wife, reigning champion Anky van Gruvsnen, recently gave birth and will not be competing at Las Vegas.

Dressage competition begins today in Las Vegas. Canada's Evi Strasser will be the first to ride. Equisearch.com will provide reports from Las Vegas.

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