Anky van Grunsven Lands Eighth World Cup Title

Text and Photos for DressageDaily by Astrid Appels/

Anky van Grunsven and Salinero have won the 2006 World Cup Finals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was Anky's third consecutive World Cup title aboard Salinero (Salieri x Lungau) and the eighth in her career in twelve years.

With an 87.750% score, Anky van Grunsven freewheeled to the World Cup title, staying more than a 6% point advantage ahead of second placed Isabell Werth. Never before has Van Grunsven been this invincible.

The Dutch double Olympic champion scored just a bit below the world record score she achieved a month ago at the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch. Despite the fact that she didn't improve her own world record, her freestyle ride in Amsterdam was her best aboard Salinero so far.

The hot to trot Salinero was relaxed, calm and collected. He looked mature and prepared for the kur and showed little to no tension during the entire ride. Anky rode her beautiful L'Esprit Chanson kur, a Slings & Kerkhof creation she's been using for almost three years. The piaffe passage tour was lovely. The two tempi's were ground covering and regular. Only the first change of the one-tempi's was the croupe a bit high, and the zig zag could be perfected a bit more. The biggest improvement was the extended walk which now showed clear overtrack. With the great progress shown in Salinero's performance, Anky couldn't have deserved the title more.

"It was my best ride ever on Salinero. Everything went well today. I can remember anything in the test I wasn't happy with and I can't come up with a thing I would improve. Maybe when I look at the video I'll find something," she said.

Anky will now give Salinero a long break and slowly work towards the World Equestrian Games. She'll be showing him at the CDI Rotterdam and Gelderland, but not at the CHIO Aachen which is three days before the 2006 Dutch Dressage Championships, where she's riding Krack C and Painted Black.

Anky van Grunsven Lands Eight World Cup Title

Isabell Werth Rises to the Occasion

A few months ago, Isabell Werth rode a new Grand Prix record score aboard her Hanoverian gelding Satchmo, but the tempermental bay gelding can not offer the same consistent performance to his rider. To everyone's surprise it was Isabell's up and coming Hanoverian gelding Warum Nicht FRH that has pushed Isabell back in the spotlight. The huge gelding amicably called "Hannes" is by Weltmeyer x Wenzel and has proven to be most valuable to her.

At the 2006 World Cup Finals, Isabell and Warum Nicht FRH rode to unprecedented high scores and placed second behind Anky van Grunsven with 81.150%. Especially the extensions with great overtrack were beautiful and throughout the piaffe and passage, Werth maintained an exemplary light contact with the bit, even though Hannes came a bit deep in the piaffe at times.

"I'm very happy with my ride today because it was very consistent. Hannes stayed focused throughout the test and was relaxed," she explained. In the award ceremony, Werth thanked the audience for being so supportive and added that "this should be an example for Germany."

Her plans for the future are preparing her horses for the qualifiers for the German Dressage Championships. With Satchmo she'll be riding at the CDI Hagen next week and with Hannes, she will do one outdoor show.

Anky van Grunsven Lands Eight World Cup Title

Jan Brink and Bjorsells Briar Place Third

Swedish Jan Brink finished third in the kur with 79.325%. The winner of the 2005 CDIO Aachen and the bronze medal at the 2006 European Dressage Championships presented his Swedish Warmblood Briar as nicely as expected. The regular piaffe and passage are Briar's strong points. A kick to the spur in the piaffe at X and a missed flying change in the canter zig zag were the only two small hiccups in the test.

"It's fun to ride the kur, it makes you ride more on feeling," Brink explained. "In the Grand Prix I had Briar more in front of my legs and in the kur I made some small mistakes. Maybe I should have made him go more in the warm up."

Hans Ynge Goransson's Bjorsells Briar (by Magini x Kroket) did not show same brilliance in Amsterdam that made him win CDIO Aachen in 2005, but the horse is so confirmed in his work and looks happy under Jan Brink. "You can't be at the top every time," Brink said, "Hagen and Aachen were my highlights last year and now I'm working toward the World Equestrian Games."

Brink will give Briar a break and aims at keeping his horse happy and motivated in his work and ride three shows before the WEG (Aachen, Lingen, Falsterbo). "Since Aachen, he has been more steady in the Grand Prix. I don't want to push him, but I'll slowly get him ready for that level [of top competition at the World Equestrian Games]."

Edward Gal, who did not reach his normal level of competition in the Grand Prix because of a swelling underneath the Lingh's girth, was able to ride the kur on Saturday afterall. The Dutch team vet iced the spot and on the kur it was completely gone. Riding a kur to trance techno music, Gal scored 79.075% and climbed up from a sixth place in the Grand Prix to a fourth in the Kur.

Gal stated that the swelling, even though gone, had mentally affected his performance.

"I had a bad preparation because of it. I'm glad I rode my kur today, but I felt myself going white when I got in. I was so stressed. When I felt it got better, I started riding more at the end."

Anky van Grunsven Lands Eight World Cup Title

Arlene Page and Wild One Make Big International Debut

American Arlene Page made a big international debut on European soil, by scoring a magical 71.000% in the Grand Prix, but in the freestyle there was a glitch at the beginning. A communication error with her horse Wild One (by Wanderer) resulted in a piaffelike pirouette what should have been a double canter pirouette. Page, however, got her act together straight away and ended up showing great piaffe passage reprises in which the rhythm was clear and the tempo clocking as regular as a Swiss watch.

The 69.650% mark in the freestyle did not even come close to a realistic reflection of what the pair has to offer. "Of course I was disappointed not to go over 70% in the freestyle, you want to shoot yourself. An over error in the beginning is a big fat hole you have to climb out, but I clocked off the everything else. It was an error of communication."

Nevertheless, Page is extremely happy and proud of the opportunity of riding at the World Cup Finals. With the coveted USEF patch on her jacket, Page is now a member of the US Dressage force. "I got to introduce a horse to the big international sport and I'm taking home a horse that is sound and has learned a lot. It's the first time I have represented the U.S. It has been a huge honor. We have so many people who ride well and train well in our country, and this time the Gods have smiled on me and I got to do it," a humble Page told Eurodressage. "I'm incredibly grateful for the beautiful network in place in the American dressage community. It's a network that allows us to excel, feel confident and have fun along the way. Klaus Balkenhol's stable [American team trainer] is a base that feels like home. My daughter was painting easter eggs with Judith [Balkenhol]."

Anky van Grunsven Lands Eight World Cup Title

Leslie Morse and Tip Top Finish Second in B-Finals

The 21-year old Laura Bechtolsheimer from Great Britain won the consolation finals at the 2006 World Cup Finals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 22, 2006. Aboard her father Wilfried's Hanoverian gelding Douglas Dorsey (by Donnerhall x Salem), Laura scored 73.525% and placed first in a field of six riders who rode the B-Finals Kur to Music in the RAI expo center Saturday morning.

American Leslie Morse placed second aboard her Swedish warmblood stallion Tip Top with 71.450%. Morse rode her Pirates of the Carribean kur which has a high degree of technical difficulty. Half passes in passage, extended canters followed by double pirouettes, tempi's on the circle; the sturdy Tip Top did it all. Although the dark bay did lose some impulsion in the piaffes, overall Morse put down a very decent ride with her 12-year old stallion.

"For him [Tip Top] to come to a venue of this size; he did a great job," said a lively Morse in the press conference. "I changed my warm up and philosophy for the ride today. He's a hot horse and the temperature difference between the warm up and the arena is 12°. I put ice water on points to refresh him. I have to keep trying different things so he can step up. It's all about 6 and a half minutes. The whole master game is where to build highlights in your test and know how to build an audience," she philosophized.

Text and Photos by Astrid Appels

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