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Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum & Shutterfly Claim 2nd World Cup

GOTEBORG, Sweden, April 27--Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly won the 2008 Rolex FEI World Cup Final Sunday, the second title for the duo in the annual global championship.

The USA's Rich Fellers and Flexible were second, the best finish for an American since Katharine Burdsall and The Natural won this event in 1987.

Germany's Heinrich Hermann Engemann and Aboyeur W, who won the opening speed class Thursday, finished third.

Ireland's Jessica Kuerten and Castle Forbes Libertina who came into Sunday's final at the top of the leaderboard after capturing the second leg of the contest Friday--she also won the Goteborg Trophy Grand Prix on Quibell on Saturday but that did not count toward the World Cup Final--could not maintain their momentum.

The pair tied for fourth with 2007 World Cup winner Beat Mandli and Ideo du Thot of Switzerland and 1993 winner Ludger Beerbaum of Germany and All Inclusive NRW.

Peter Wylde, 2004 U.S. Olympic team gold medalist who lives in the Netherlands, and Esplanade who had been in third place going into final, dropped out of contention and finished seventh after pulling two rails in the triple combination in the first of two rounds Sunday.

Michaels-Beerbaum, California-born but who now rides for Germany, won the 2005 World Cup Final in Las Vegas and was second in Milan, Italy in 2004 on the Octavia Farms, LLC-owned Shutterfly.

I'm very proud to win my second World Cup title and the first Rolex-sponsored World Cup final," Michaels-Beerbaum said. "Shutterfly showed he was in great form over three days and at 15 he is not young - he was super and he never had a rail down. I'm pleased with myself today, too, and glad I got him around safely."

Fellers, 49, of Wilsonville, Ore. is not well known outside the West Coast, preferring to live a quiet life with his family rather than travelling the international circuit.

"I have two wonderful children and being with them is my priority" he said.

He had nothing but praise for Flexible, a 12 year old Irish-bred stallion who in his earlier years had to have surgery to fix a blocked artery that caused persistent lameness then broke his shoulder when he ran into a fence after escaping from a stable.

"You don't know what they can do until you ask them," he said, "and when I asked him this week to jump higher and go wider he just kept saying, OK."

The Scandinavium Arena where the World Cup started 30 years ago was packed for the 2008 final. Spectators were on the edge of their seats throughout as the lead changed several times and result came down to Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly, the last to go in the second round.

Twenty-four combinations started the final competition, including nine of the 10 Americans from the East Coast and West Coast Leagues that had been among the original 39 finalists. Nineteen advanced to Sunday's second round.

Finishing in 13th place overall was Kent Farrington, 27, of Wellington, Fla. and Up Chiqui, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Alex Boone, William Dobbs and Jim McNerney, Lauren Hough, 30, also of Wellington and Quick Study, owned by Laura Mateo, were 14th, Danielle Torano, 34, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. on Vancouver d'Auvrey owned by Sir Ruly, Inc., 17th, Richard Spooner, 37 of Agua Dulce, Calif. on Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndication Int'l., 18th and Mandy Porter, 42, of Encinitas, Calif. on Wild Turkey Farm's 11-year-old Belgian warmblood mare, Summer, 19th.

Riding in her first World Cup Final, Brianne Goutal, 19, of New York and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Onira, owned by Cloverleaf Farm, placed 21st overall, while Todd Minikus, 45, also of Wellington on the 12-year-old mare, Olinda, owned by Houlihan Lawrence, finished one place further back. Margie Engle, 50, of Wellington and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold were 30th.

Canadians Jill Henselwood and Black Ice and Darrin Dlin and Catwalk finished 28th and 34th, respectively.

(Reporting from Goteburg provided by Pelle Wedenmark for HorseSport USA)

Photo: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly holding aloft the World Cup after riding double clear Sunday to become the 2008 World Cup champion. Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI


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