Anky van Grunsven, Salinero Tops Again at Exquis World Dressage Masters in Cannes

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Anky van Grunsven and Salinero leading the victory gallop at the Exquis World Dressage Masters at Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anky van Grunsven and Salinero leading the victory gallop at the Exquis World Dressage Masters at Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J, BRADDICK

CANNES, France, June 13–Although IPS Salinero was “really afraid” of the small packed arena and its late Saturday night festive atmosphere, Anky van Grunsven helped her Olympic gold medal partner through it to win the Grand Prix Freestyle at the Exquis World Dressage Masters on the French Riviera.

The Dutch combination won the Grand Prix two days earlier in a daylight competition that kicked off the third stage of four competitions in the U.S. and Europe that is the richest dressage series in history. Each event has prize money of €100,000 (US$140,000) plus a €25,000 (US$35,000) series-long rider challenge that has its finale at Munich, Germany.

In only their second international competition since winning individual gold at the 2008 Olympics, van Grunsven and the 15-year-old Salinero were near their peak performance at this event that was broadcast worldwide on the Internet.

Van Grunsven and Salinero were scored at 79.85 per cent and won first place prize money of €20,000 (US$28,000). It was the second Exquis World Dressage Masters she has won, having captured the Palm Beach, Florida event in January on her other Grand Prix mount, IPS Painted Black.

Anky van Grunsven and Salinero in the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anky van Grunsven and Salinero in the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Finland’s Kyra Kyrklund on Max was second on 76.05 per cent, her second straight runnerup finish the other in Munich. She collected €15,000 (US$21,000). Third place went to Belgium’s Jeroen Devroe on Apollo vh Vijverhof with 74.20 per cent that earned him €10,000 (US$14,000).

The finale event to be held at Hickstead, England July 23-26 promises to be a thriller with the first international head-to-head competition between van Grunsven and Salinero and her compatriot Edward Gal on the spectacular Moorland Totilas on which he won the Dutch national championships the beginning of June.

The Cannes event and the Munich show last month and Palm Beach in January showed the growing enthusiasm and commitment of dressage fans as well as riders and owners to the World Dressage Masters series.

“Salinero came in really afraid,” van Grunsven said of the atmosphere that was festive after the Global Champions Tour jumping Grand Prix.

“But I liked the atmosphere. I liked it better than Salinero.”

Arena for the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle at Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Arena for the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle at Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Salinero was “a bit spoiled by his long holiday” after the Olympics last September.

“But for me, too, every night before I went to sleep I would say to myself, ‘I won it, I won the gold.’

“I had to find motivation. I still enjoy riding Salinero a lot and he likes the routine of showing.”

She said she liked the different types of venues in which WDM events were staged.

“I think it is good for the sport to be in America, to be in the South of France, to be in Germany and next we will be in England,” she said.

“The prize money is very good.. for us dressage riders it’s great.”

Van Grunsven said that Painted Black is back in work after a recent injury during breeding, but she has no plans to show him at this stage.

She said she plans to compete Salinero at the Rotterdam CDIO next week and maybe a smaller Dutch show but most likely will skip the CHIO Aachen, Germany, and set her sights on the next WDM at Hickstead July 23-26.

Hickstead promises to be one of the most competitive WDM events so far with The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen’s Parzival expected to be back after almost three months off with an injury that kept the pair out of the World Cup Final, the return of Hans-Peter Minderhoud and Exquis Nadine, Kyrklund and Max, British Olympians Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris and Emma Hindle and Lancet.

Kyra Kyrklund and Max in the World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle in Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kyra Kyrklund and Max in the World Dressage Masters Grand Prix Freestyle in Cannes. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

From North America, three-time Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer and Pop Art are entered and a U.S. contingent includes Catherine Haddad who lives in Vechta, Germany, with both Cadillac and Maximus JSS and Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, California, and Tip Top.

A possible surpise entry in the WDM CDI5* is Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF, the Hyperion Farm’s Pan American Games team gold and individual silver medal mount that has created excitement since entering CDI Grand Prix competitions in Florida and at Raleigh, North Carolina this year.