The stakes were high in this first head to head since the 2008 Olympic Games of the world's leading dressage riders, Isabell Werth and Anky van Grunsven. It always is a neck to neck race between the German and Dutch dames and when push comes to shove it is the one not making any mistakes that will claim victory. Isabell Werth won the final Western European League World Cup qualifier by pushing for power in the kur to music, though Anky van Grunsven won the opening Grand Prix class of the CDI-W Den Bosch. Werth and Madeleine Winter-Schulze's Satchmo (by Sao Paulo x Legat) stayed faultfree while performing Michael Erdmann's "Hymn of Devotion" freestyle featuring Mrs. Duffe's dramatic soprano voice. No mistakes and a high technical difficulty explained her 84.150% winning score. The two tempi changes on a curved line immediately followed by one tempi's (which lacked ground covering at the beginning) and half passes in passage earned her extra points.
"I didn't expect to win, but of course I was trying. I'm happy for it," Isabell said. "Satchmo is in very good shape. He now gets a little break and then I prepare him for Las Vegas. I hope for a safe flight and we'll see what happens in Vegas."
The class everyone has been waiting for was actually the Grand Prix. It was the first confrontation between Werth and van Grunsven with their number one horses since the Olympics and it was also the first opportunity for Dutch shooting star Adelinde Cornelissen to check her position in relation to the champions.
Anky van Grunsven came in the ring right after Isabell Werth and Satchmo. The German duo had made no major mistakes and scored 77.149%. Anky beat this with 78.255%. Anky had ridden a very flashy, beautiful, energetic test which clearly excelled Werth's in expressiveness and power.
"I'm incredibly happy," Van Grunsven said at the press conference. "He stayed nice and quiet, he's getting a day older."
Read a full report of the CDI-W Den Bosch
Sjef Janssen to Remain Dutch Dressage Team Trainer
Sjef Janssen will remain the Dutch Dressage team trainer until the 2012 Olympic Games in London. His contract, which was up for renewal in 2009, has been extended by the Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS) for four more years. The news was announced at the CDI-W 's Hertogenbosch.
The 59-year old Sjef Janssen coached the Dutch team to a team gold medal at the 2007 European Championships and individual gold and team silver at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
Janssen has been team trainer for the past four years, though he resigned once to enforce structural changes with the Dutch High Performance Dressage Committee and the Dutch Equestrian Federation. By appointing, for instance, Mariette Sanders as chef d'equipe, Janssen agreed to come back as team trainer.
"I see much perspective for the sport in our country," Sjef Janssen said at the press conference. "Also, I want to keep having time for my family."