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Federation Equestre Internationale News

Maastricht CDI-W December 11-14

The next 'hot bed' in the FEI World Cup Dressage Season….And Anky is back

The third leg of the FEI World Cup dressage Western European league season, which takes place in Maastricht, The Netherlands this weekend, promises to be a hot bed of excellence and excitement.

Olympic and five-time World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven makes her return to the international grand prix arena in Maastrict, nearly a year after sustaining a complex fractured to her thigh in a fall while training. Riding the nine-year-old Gestion Salinero, with whom she won the freestyle here last year, van Grunsven will debut a brand new
programme created by her music gurus, Cees Slings and Victor Kerkof, entitled 'L'Esprit Chanson'.

The Dutch heroine faces a tough challenge; German team riders Heike Kemmer and Isabell Werth are both bringing their European gold medal horses, Bonaparte and Satchmo, Berlin winners Hubertus Schmidt and Wansuela Suerte are also starting in Maastricht and Holland's top European championship rider Antoinette Falandt will make her world cup season debut with Jarwo.

Van Grunsven is ready. " I have competed in two national shows with Gestion Salinero, so we could get going again, and he has been really good in training, but of course it is very different in a big atmosphere, and he is still 'a baby'. The new Kuer is completely different and really good, and I just want to see how it goes and to get into the rhythm of it again."

She and her Gestion team mate Edward Gal, who starts in Maastricht with Gestion Lingh, are both out to get the final in Dusseldorf next April. After Maastricht, Mechelen in Belgium, and both the Dutch shows Amsterdam and Indoor Brabant, are on their agendas.

Heike Kemmer, who heads the rankings on 52 points, will be out to increase her lead and could draw well ahead in the absence of her closest rival, Britain's Emma Hindle, who is now resting Wie Weltmeyer having achieved 50 points.

So far, this world cup season has been remarkable for the very high standard, with nearly all competitors scoring 70 per cent or over in the freestyles. In Maastricht, the qualifying grand prix (Friday 12th December, 10.45) will be nail biting as 21 riders from eight nations fight for the fifteen places in Sunday morning's freestyle to music.

For further information:

L'Esprit Chanson: An insight into the creation of Anky's kuer.

The seeds of the new freestyle were sown last August in France. Cees Slings usually comes up with the concepts, but with his wife Mirjam seriously ill for most of this year, Slings had his mind focussed only on her recovery. Vic Kerkoff had a melody in his head though, and over dinner with World Cup Director Joep Bartels and his wife Tineke, talking about an idea for a show to live music, the trigger was pulled.

Based on a collection of famous French hit songs, the composer/arranger team had carte blanche to do something new and innovative. One key feature, never done before, is Anky on vocals!

Cees Slings explained: " Anky sings on the melody of 'Une Belle Histoire'. She had never sung in a studio before but she did it really easily, and we were very happy with her vocal abilities. That's Anky in top form, always giving it a try."

The music is full of surprises, and perhaps a little humour, as Salinero will perform piaffe and passage to Edith Piaf's 'Je ne regrette rien', and the arrangement took painstaking attention to detail and a lot of time.

Slings commented: " We had to film the test five times, because Salinero is developing fast. Even when Anky did her first try out performance, to get her and Salinero get used to the audience again, Sjef called us immediately afterwards - the passage and piaffe were even more improved and he wanted to try and alter the tempo just for this section" Sjef Janssen, Anky's trainer and partner, designs the ground pattern for her freestyles.

Slings and Kerkoff have been working with Anky for eight years now. Primarily composers, they have managed to combine innovation with what they see as " the conservative dressage and judging world". Slings said: " Our priority is melody and arrangement, so the whole test is a more or less continuous thing; It has to be like a very good film score - over before you know it, but the melody is in your head and heart although you don't notice until you hear it the next time, or see Anky ride again."

As for the concept, Slings added: " It all came about from that dinner in France. As Joep Bartels paid the bill, I reckon Anky owes him a dinner!"


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