In the absence of Ulla Salzgeber and Debbie McDonald, Dutch dressage diva Anky van Grunsven has been given free reign to win the 2004 World Cup Dressage Finals. Aboard the Hanoverian gelding Gestion Salinero (by Salieri), Van Grunsven has already proved to be undefeatable in the Western League World Cup qualifiers, but at the Finals in Dusseldorf this weekend, she has shown to be wielding the axe of power over any dressage rider in the world.
With only German Heike Kemmer able to put a breeze of competition in Anky's neck, Van Grunsven decided to play it safe by riding a very expressive and correct Grand Prix test on Friday April 2, 2004. Although the Grand Prix does not count for the Finals, it is a very good barometer to predict the winner of the freestyle. Van Grunsven scored 75.791% with a test that was brimming with elegance and power. The piaffe-passage tour was very engaged, the lateral trotwork breath-taking, and the pirouettes were the highlights of the test. Unfortunately tension dominated the canter work, causing the tempi's every single stride to be hectic.
Heike Kemmer finished second on her chestnut Hanoverian Bonaparte (by Bon Bonaparte). Bonaparte was relaxed and on the job. His piaffe passage tour is not as spectacular and electric as Salinero's, but is correct in the classical way, and it flatters the eye. Bonaparte showed nice extensions and lovely pirouettes. The judges gave the pair 74.875%.
Finishing third was Dutch shooting star Edward Gal aboard Gestion Lingh (by Flemmingh). Lingh shows much self-carriage in the piaffe and passage, but he lost impulsion in the final piaffe on the centerline at X. The flying changes could have been a bit straighter and the extended trot needed more engagement from behind, though Lingh shows spectacular scope and freedom in the shoulder.
Nikolaus' Rebirth in Europe
In a strong fourth position was American Guenter Seidel on Nikolaus. Seidel has been training with Balkenhol in Germany for a month now and Nikolaus seemed very ready for this show. The Westphalian gelding by Weinberg has never before shown such an expressive trot with lovely knee action and good impulsion. Strong points of Seidel's Grand Prix test were the flying changes and trot and canter extensions. Nikolaus' major problem has always been tension in the piaffe and passage. This time the passage was more fluent, but the piaffe could still have shown more relaxation and rhythm. The American duo scored 71.333%.
World Cup Finals' debutant Leslie Morse had a handful with her Dutch warmblood Kingston (by Voltaire). While previously trained by Kyra Kyrklund, Morse had now taken an extensive training programme at Klaus Balkenhol's in Rosendahl prior to the event.
In their test, the dark bay licensed stallion Kingston seemed to overpower his rider, for instance by taking of in the extended trot. They finished 14th with 65.875%.
On Sunday, the actual Finals are contested in the Grand Prix freestyle. The top twelve placing combinations can battle for that tomorrow noon. In the morning, a consolation freestyle will be ridden. Kristy Oatley-Nist, Leslie Morse, Sven Rothenberger, Belinda Trussel, Nicole Ahlefeldt Laurvig Lehn and Irina Lys will be riding these B-finals.
(for those who can reach the WDR channell in Germany, the World Cup Finals is broadcast tomorrow round noon)
Scores of the 2004 World Cup Finals
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2004 World Cup Finals
Anky On her Way to a Sixth Historical World Cup Victory
Anky Sweeps to Top of the League after CDI-W Den Bosch
Brentina Withdrawn from 2004 World Cup Dressage Final