A superb performance from Anky Van Grunsven and Gestion Salinero secured the Dutch diva victory in the final qualifier of the FEI Western European League in front of an ecstatic home crowd at Indoor Brabant. With wins at Mechelen and Amsterdam under her belt plus a second on her initial outing at Maastricht, the five-time World Cup winner goes into the Final next week as Queen of the League.
"Gestion Salinero was great, the best he has been so far" said van Grunsven." The atmosphere here was brilliant, very special as always, and we are having a big party tonight for sure!"
The special reason for a party was the Gestion team's clean sweep of the top three places. Van Grunsven's pupil Edward Gal ride Gestion Lingh to second place on 78.45 per cent, securing his ticket to Duesseldorf next week, and third marked the return to top form of Gestion Goliath for a delighted and emotional Arjen Teeuwissen for third on 76.42.
In fourth place, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff did a great job with her beautiful mare Wahajama-Unicef to finish the League in seventh place.
However, there are three German riders ahead of her - Heike Kemmer, Hubertus Schmidt and Isabell Werth, who finished sixth here on Apache to cement her fourth place in the standings four points above Linsenhoff.
Due to the high quality seen throughout this Western European League
season, it had already been decided that three further Final places
would be awarded instead of the normal eight. Sweden's Louise Nathhorst
and Danish dental student Nicole Ahlefeldt Laurvig-Lehn secured their
places here as expected.
However, unforeseen circumstances arose this week with the withdrawal of the title-holders Debbie McDonald and Brentina, and while Finland's Kyra Kyrklund had qualified under the new arrangements, the former titleholder has retired from the fray.
Therefore the FEI World Cup Director Joep Bartels has announced the increase to twelve of qualified Western League riders with the availability of two further wild cards, one for a thrilled Linsenhoff and, for balance, one for Dutch rider Marlies van Baalen standing in thirteenth after her ninth place here on Blom's Idocus. Sweden's Tinne Vilhelmsson, 14th on points, completes the quota.
A capacity crowd of 8,000 watched the last FEI World Cup qualifier of the season. Just before the prize-giving World Cup Director Joep Bartels was honoured for his exceptional contribution to the World Cup, as he is retiring as Director at the end of this season.
The competition was fierce, but in a wonderful finale to a fantastic season, all the prize-winners made an impromptu 'show', taking the applause in passage in one impressive cadre down the arena.
But the show is not over yet. Duesseldorf here we come.
Text by Bernadette Faurie
Images copyrighted: Astrid Appels/Eurodressage - No reproduction allowed
Eurodressage scores of the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch