FALSTERBO, Sweden, July 8 - Anky van Grunsven, the most successful rider in the Exquis World Dressage Masters, on Thursday rode a newly recovered IPS Painted Black to victory in the Grand Prix of the first €100,000 CDI5* competitions staged by the Falsterbo Horse Show.
Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven, one of Sweden's most popular dressage stars, gave the big crowd that turned out to support the event good cause to applaud even more enthusiastically than they did for all the riders when she and the 11-year-old Favourit turned in a performance that placed them second.
Anky and the 13-year-old stallion Painted Black was the unanimous choice by the judges for first place in the Nurnberger Versicherungsgruppe Grand Prix presented by Agria with a score of 75.234 per cent with Tinne and Favourit posting marks of 71.957 per cent. Germany's Anja Plönzke and Le Mont d'Or, competing in their fourth WDM CDI5* event so far this year - Palm Beach in the USA, Munich, Germany and Cannes, France in addition to Falsterbo - was third on 68.723 per cent.
Fourteen combinations from six nations started in the €10,000 Grand Prix. The €30,000 Grand Prix Special will be held Friday and the €60,000 Grand Prix Freestyle Saturday, that brings to €525,000 the total prize money offered at the five WDM events this year.
After the Falsterbo Horse Show which is also hosting a Meydan FEI Nations Cup, the final WDM even of the year will be at Hickstead, England, which will feature the world's top horse and rider combinations - Moorlands Totilas ridden by Edward Gal and Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen. Hickstead will be the final selection event for the Dutch team for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky Sept. 25-Oct. 10.
Anky said after the victory in Thursday's Grand Prix that she was happy with the ride as Painted Black was "very focused on me" in his first competition since a small injury sidelined the stallion. Salinero, her 2008 Olympic gold medal mount, is also recovering from an injury to his withers that she thinks may have occurred by Salinero rolling in his stall.
Being able to train in the competition arena on Wednesday night before a big crowd helped Painted Black become used to the stadium, she said.
Tinne's mount, Favourit, is owned by Antonia Ax:son Johnson whose Axel Johnson Gruppen is the main sponsor that worked to bring WDM to Sweden.
"WDM is a brilliant idea," said the five-time Olympian who has been working with Antonia Ax:son Johnson on her equestrian program for the past 10 years.
"It's very important for the sport and really good for the riders."