Edward Gal of the Netherlands, riding Geldnet Lingh, won the opening Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals, Presented by Offield Farms, at the 2005 Las Vegas FEI World Cup Finals.
The world’s top dressage and jumping horses and riders are in Las Vegas competing for the prestigious title of International Equestrian Federation (FEI) World Cup Champions in both dressage and jumping at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The FEI World Cup Dressage Final, presented by Offield Farms, and the FEI Budweiser World Cup Jumping Final are being held simultaneously for the first time in history.
Gal and the 12-year-old Dutch stallion Lingh wowed the crowd of more than 8,500 with his test that was awarded many 8s and 9s by the panel of five judges for a total score of 78.625%. “At first I was very nervous because of the crowd,” said Gal. “Then I thought, what the heck, just ride and see what happens. [ Lingh] did everything I wanted. I heard the crowd say, ‘Oh wow,’ so I thought it must be good. My day was super.”
Immediately behind Gal was teammate and defending World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven riding Salinero. Van Grunsven and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding scored a close 78%. She had a few mistakes, which she attributed as her own. “I think it’s the most impolite thing he could do!” joked Van Grunsven in reference to her student, Gal. “He asks for help, so I help… and the next thing, he beats me. No, I’m very proud.”
Standing in third place after the Grand Prix was American Debbie McDonald of Hailey, Idaho, and Brentina. The pair had the second ride of the day and held the first-place position until the last two rides of the competition. McDonald and the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, who were the 2003 World Cup champions, scored a total 75.925%. “The atmosphere is phenomenal of all the places I’ve been,” she said. “Mentally, it’s nice to start on top, but I have to remember that the next competition is a clean slate.”
Following a performance befitting of their trademark style – elegance meets enthusiasm – the pair brought a deafening crowd to its feet. Having claimed the prized position in the 2003 FEI World Cup Dressage Final, the confident team seemed to be reminding everyone that they are still very much in the running. In large measure, the judges seemed to agree with the standing ovation, rewarding McDonald and Brentina for their clean ride, topped off by energetic extended trots and spring-loaded passages. Marks of 7, 8 and 9 consistently dotted the scoreboard throughout their performance in Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Arena.
“This is so exciting to see this in our country,” McDonald said. “It’s long overdue and it only proves that this sport can grow just as much as it can in Europe if we’re given a chance.”
The big news of the afternoon: All four American riders gave solid performances worthy of advancement. Robert Dover and FBW Kennedy finished fourth with 75.625, Leslie Morse and Kingston finished seventh with 72.792, and Guenter Seidel and Aragon tied for eleventh with a 71.125. Their scores guarantee each of them a spot in the final freestyle on Saturday, where the top 12 riders will face off again, and the slate will be wiped clean. Only the scores from that final competition will determine who goes home with the World Cup title.
The top 12 horses and riders from today’s Grand Prix will advance to the FEI World Cup Dressage Final-Freestyle on Saturday night. The Grand Prix scores will determine the order of go in the Freestyle, and the riders will compete in reverse order. The scores from the Freestyle only will determine the World Cup champion.
McDonald will be joined in Saturday night’s Freestyle by the three other American riders competing in the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals. Robert Dover and FBW Kennedy, Leslie Morse and Kingston and Guenter Seidel and Aragon all qualified.
The pairs that will be competing in the Saturday Freestyle are:
Rider Horse Country Score
- 1 Edward Gal - Lingh - NED 78.625
- 2. Anky van Grunsven - Salinero - NED 78.000
- 3. Debbie McDonald - Brentina - USA 75.958
- 4. Robert Dover - FBW Kennedy - USA 75.625
- 5. Jan Brink - Bjorsells Briar 899 - SWE 75.583
- 6. Andreas Helgstrand - Blue Horse Cavan - DEN 73.000
- 7. Leslie Morse - Kingston - USA 72.792
- 8. Hubertus Schmidt - Aramis - GER 71.708
- 9. Carl Hester - Escapado - GBR 71.667
- 10. Sven Rothenberger - Barclay II - NED 71.167
- 11t. Guenter Seidel - Aragon - USA 71.125
- 11t. Lone Joergensen - Ludewig G - DEN 71.125
Photo copyrighted: Tetleyphoto.com
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