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Federation Equestre Internationale News

FEI World Cup Dressage

CDI-W Mechelen 26-30th December 2003

Tomorrow in Mechelen, Belgium the Dutch invasion on the FEI World Cup dressage rankings is set to take place.

In today's qualifying grand prix, places were won and the grid positions decided for tomorrow's freestyle to music, where the big business of accumulating ranking points towards a place in the FEI World Cup Final (Dusseldorf April 1-4) commences.

Five-time World Cup winner and reigning Olympic champion Anky van Grunsven swept to a clear victory with Gestion Salinero in the qualifying grand prix today, with stable mate Edward Gal in second place with Gestion Lingh and in third, Antoinette Falandt, who scored the highest for Holland at the European Championships, riding Jarwo. So far the German competitors, punctuated by young British rider Emma Hindle's assault, which has put her second so far, have dominated the rankings.

Points leader Heike Kemmer had decided to sit this one out, as did Hubertus Schmidt (3rd), but Isabell Werth, another former Cup winner in equal fourth place with Sweden's Louise Nathhorst, had intended to compete here. Sadly Werth's veteran ride Antony FRH went lame just before they were due to travel. The field is open after today's clean
sweep for Holland.

Van Grunsven only returned to the international grand prix arena in Maastricht earlier this month, having been sidelined through injury for much of this year. Her horse Salinero, at only nine years old, has little experience, and their performance today says much for the trust between horse and rider, which is essential at this, the highest level of equestrian competition. Van Grunsven commented: "It is not an easy arena here. The crowd were very nice and it was very busy, though that is not the easiest for horses. Salinero is very inexperienced, although he did not feel like that today. I am so happy with him, and he has already improved since Maastricht. It is great to be back."

On home ground, it was right that the Belgian riders made a good showing. Although sadly their current No 1 Johan Zagers was unable to start due his horse having a 'flu, Jeroen Devroe's sixth place proved promising for the country, which has not fielded a full team internationally since 1995.

Nearly New Year it is, and while there are hopes to be fulfilled in future, tomorrow, in Maastricht, in a season where every qualifier is proving a top class contest for points, there are hopes and dreams concentrated on the World Cup in possibly its most competitive season to date.

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