Van Grunsven and Salinero In the Lead at 2006 World Cup Finals

A victory for Anky van Grunsven and Salinero in the first round -- the Grand Prix -- at the 2006 World Cup Finals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, came as no surprise. The invincible duo has dominated the entire World Cup Qualifier circuit winning four out of four competitions they started in and at the finals, their dominance remains unchanged.

Scoring 78.250%, the Dutch duo stayed well ahead of second placed Jan Brink and was just a league of their own. Van Grunsven was very happy about her Grand Prix ride praising Salinero's improvement in the pirouettes and crediting an outstanding first piaffe-passage reprise for her high score.

"Salinero felt tense, though he was very relaxed during the warm up early in the morning. After twenty minutes I was ready and doing some walk with him, while I used to school him much longer," Van Grunsven explained. Even though she won the Grand Prix far ahead of the 17 other competitors, Anky remained critical about her own ride, especially about the second piaffe-passage. "I noticed that Salinero was holding back so I had to ride him more and that disrupted the harmony. But I had a very good feeling about the ride and if I can do the same thing on Saturday I won't worry about the competition."

Swedish Jan Brink was extremely pleased with his liver chestnut stallion Bjorsells Briar. They earned a 75.416% mark and a second place as, unfortunately, a small mistake in the two-tempi's kept the Swedish star duo from scoring even higher. "It went really well. Briar was very relaxed, which is the most important thing," said Brink. "Everything seems to flow and the small mistakes that we made was all my fault."

Van Grunsven and Salinero In the Lead at 2006 World Cup Finals

Werth On a High with Warum Nicht FRH

German Isabell Werth is on a high with her Hanoverian gelding Warum Nicht FRH. Scoring 75.208% and placing third in the Grand Prix, Warum Nicht is exceeding Werth's expectations. "I scored my highest mark ever with this horse here in Amsterdam," Werth stated. "We are able to continue our progress, scoring a little better at every competition. Of course I hope this will last a bit longer," she joked.

An outstanding performance was set down by Imke Schellekens-Bartels on her Hanoverian mare Sunrise (by Singular Joter) who ranked fourth with 72.791% while country man Laurens van Lieren followed in fifth place with 72.416%.

Van Grunsven and Salinero In the Lead at 2006 World Cup Finals

Edward Gal's Lingh Injured In Grand Prix Ride

Quite disappointing was Edward Gal's go on the KWPN stallion Lingh (by Flemmingh). Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2005 World Cup Finals, Gal now scored 6% lower than in Las Vegas. With 71.916% they placed sixth due to a mistake filled test. After his ride, Edward discovered a bruise underneath the girth on Lingh's right side.

"Before I entered the ring, nothing was wrong with him and the FEI steward had checked everything," a disappointed Gal explained. In the first half pass to the left, Gal put pressure on the right side and unknowingly pressed on the sore spot. In the transition from walk to passage, Lingh broke into canter and responded heftily to any leg aids. "I think all the mistakes I made in the test were because I noticed something was wrong and I was afraid to ask anything from Lingh," he said. In the stable area, the sore spot was cooled with ice. Hopefully the bruise will be gone by Friday evening so that Gal can train his horse normally and compete in the kur on Saturday. However, it is possible that Gal will have to withdraw.

Van Grunsven and Salinero In the Lead at 2006 World Cup Finals

Arlene Page and Wild One Living the Dream

American Arlene "Tuny" Page made her big international break through at these World Cup Finals. In the United States she won the U.S. League finals for the World Cup with 70 percentage scores, but the Floridian dressage rider, who is trained by Danish Lars Petersen, has proven that she's able to ride magical scores on European turf as well. Aboard her Hanoverian gelding Wild One (by Wanderer), Page scored 71.00% and placed seventh. "I really wanted to get into the Final and do well in it. It really felt great," said an ecstatic Page. The American duo is living the dream in Amsterdam!

Leslie Morse placed fourteenth aboard her second Grand Prix horse Tip Top (by Master). It was Tip Top's first time to fulfil a number one role for his rider Morse at such a high stature, international event. Morse was pleased with his performance in which the half passes and two tempi's were the highlights. Small mistakes in the piaffe and one tempi's, pushed the score down to 66.958%. They qualified for the B-finals on Saturday morning.

"Tip Top was very good overall. He had some beautiful movements. This is his first experience in such an indoor hall and I'm very proud of the way he handled it," Morse said. "It was difficult to go in so early in the class. The environment did back him off a bit, but with more big internationals competitions he will become even more confident. I am very excited about riding my freestyle on Saturday. The footing is fabulous and the atmosphere is great here."

The B-Finals start at 11.15h and the A-finals at 14.00h on Saturday morning April 22, 2006.

Text by Astrid Appels

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