Sweden's Jan Brink and Bjorsell's Briar overpowered a top class field to claim the FEI World Cup Qualifier in Neumunster, their second victory of two starts this season.
"It was wonderful to come and win here", said the Swedish star who broke the mould in winning the Aachen championship last summer. "It is not too far for us to travel and the atmosphere is amazing". He reiterated his plan to concentrate the now 15-year-old Briar on this summer's World Equestrian Games with an economical programme of outings.
Mariette Withages, President of the Ground Jury, commented: " The Neumunster public is possibly the best in the world - very knowledgeable. The standard was very high and for me the winner was clear, although the following riders were very close and we judges didn't know, even at the end of the class, who would be second or third."
It was Germany's Isabell Werth who came closest in partnership with the ten-year-old rising star Warum Nicht FRH. She said: " I'm very happy! 'Hannes' is still not that experienced but he concentrated very well. He is becoming more solid mentally." The former World Cup champion has now risen to equal fifth in the standings after three increasingly developing outings. German team trainer Holger Schmezer predicted: "I think Isabell could cause some problems for the other riders with this horse".
For Andreas Helgstrand and Blue Hors Cavan, who had surprised with victory in the grand prix, there were a few mistakes. In this class, it was one too many for the Danish pair, and they finished third in the freestyle.
With just one remaining qualifier before the 2006 FEI World Cup Final in Amsterdam (April 20-23), the competition is red-hot for places. Title- holder Anky van Grunsven still heads the standings as a result of three resounding victories but Germany's Ellen Schulten-Baumer has joined her on the same points. Schulten-Baumer placed sixth here on the lovely mare Donatha S. Edward Gal is in third place, having picked up six points for eleventh place with his second horse Gribaldi, while Denmark's Lone Joergensen, who was eighth here on Hardthof's Ludewig is the first non- Dutch or German rider to feature in the standings in seventh place. The rising British star Laura Bechtolsheimer is next in eighth place despite failing to make the cut for the freestyle in Neumunster. Neither did Imke Schellekens-Bartels on her new ride Melvin, but she shares equal ninth place with Jan Brink in the standings.
It was hot in the heart of Holstein, but the FEI World Cup atmosphere is set to soar higher during the last qualifier next month at Indoor Brabant, where the Western European League finalists will be decided.
FEI World Cup Qualifier Freestyle to Music
Presented by Volksbank Raiffeisenbank eG, Neumünster and Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall AG
1, Bjorsells Briar (Jan Brink SWE) 79.53
2, Warum Nicht FRH (Isabell Werth GER) 79.33
3, Blue Hors Cavan (Andreas Helgstrand DEN) 77.88
4, Wansuela Suerte (Hubertus Schmidt GER) 76.90
5. Royal Black Label (Elena Kalinina RUS) 75.83
6, Donatha S (Ellen Schulten-Baumer GER) 74.92
7, Guinness (Louise Nathhorst SWE) 74.47
8, Hardthof's Ludewig G (Lone Joergense DEN) 74.38
9, Piccolino (Klaus Husenbeth GER) 73.35
10, Wahajama UNICEF (Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff GER) 73.33