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Federation Equestre Internationale News

FEI World Cup Dressage Qualifier
Mechelen, Belgium, 29th December 2003

Spirit of Song accompanies Salinero to victory

Anky van Grunsven showed she is back on top form with a resounding victory in the FEI World Cup Dressage Qualifier in Mechelen. The Dutch ace rode her young talent Gestion Salinero to victory here last year, but disaster was to befall her weeks later when injuries sustained in a fall at home put paid to her competitive hopes for much of the year. Here this year, the nine-year-old Salinero exhibited a new level of accomplishment and surety in a breathtaking performance to a new freestyle programme L'Esprit Chanson designed by Cees Slings and Viktor Kerkoff. The whole package could only be described as brilliant.

Van Grunsven, the reigning Olympic champion who won the World Cup a record five times on her wonderful partner Gestion Bonfire, has now risen to third place in the season's rankings, and is on course for a place at the final in Dusseldorf (April 1-4 2004).

For Edward Gal and Gestion Lingh, also trained by Anky's partner and trainer Sjef Janssen, second place rewarded a new level of concentration and partnership for this comparatively inexperienced but talented partnership. Gestion Lingh's extended trot showed real brilliance and while he had every reason to be sensitive, as he can be, in this huge atmosphere and in front of a sell-out crowd, he put his trust and co-operation with his rider.

With Antoinette Falandt in third place on Jarwo, followed by Sven Rothenberger and Marlies van Baalen, Mechelen proved the place where the tide of Dutch fortune turned. The team failed to come home with a European medal, but as the New Year dawns with Athens on the horizon, prospects for a strong Dutch contribution to the World Cup Final on the way to Olympic heights are looking very rosy, given good fortune.

For the home crowd too there was hope for the future as Belgium's Jeroen Devroe turned in a promising performance for seventh place behind top Swiss rider Christian Plaege.

The next FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier takes place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Jan 29th - Feb 1st 2004)

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