No North American at Dressage World Cup for First Time
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 6–The World Cup Final in dressage will be without a North American rider for the first time since creation of the globe’s only annual championship a quarter century ago.
As the last of the 10 North American League (NAL) qualifying competitions, the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, was underway this weekend, the U.S. and Canadian horse and rider combinations who completed the required three events with qualifying scores confirmed they will not be going to the Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosh, The Netherlands, Mar. 25-28.
In the event that began in 1986 and is an official International Equestrian Federation (FEI) championship, two places are reserved in the Final for the North American League that effectively is made up of Canada and the United States, though theoretically includes all 24 North American countries including Mexico.
The FEI confirmed Tuesday that North America will not be represented this year.
Defending champion Steffen Peters and Ravel opted to skip the World Cup and thus did not start in two qualifiers as required under the rules. Canadian Ashley Holzer, the second highest ranked North American with Pop Art, also did not start in any World Cup qualifying events. They both decided to focus on the World Equestrian Games in September, held once every four years and in North America for the first time.
The FEI said a total of 15 riders from 10 nations have been named to compete at the World Cup.
From Western Europe, Adelinde Cornelissen, Edward Gal and Imke Schellekens-Bartels will represent the Netherlands, Isabell Werth, Matthias Alexander Rath and Carola Koppelman for Germany, Patrik Kittel and Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven for Sweden, Jeroen Devroe of Belgium, and Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein of Denmark.
The Central European League will be represented by Michal Rapcewicz and Katarzyna Milczarek of Poland and Acs Robert of Hungary. Australian, Brett Parbery, who qualified from the Pacific League and Brazil’s Luiza Tavares de Almeida of the South American/Asian region have confirmed their participation.
Four horse and rider pairs–two American and two Canadian–compiled qualifying scores from the 10 events in the North American League. No others in the NAL have scores from a sufficient number of qualifying competitions.
The riders who qualified in the NAL are:
1. Canada’s Cheryl Meisner and Paganini, the highest ranked in the NAL with an average score of 72.583 per
cent from the top three competitions required for qualification. Paganini was withdrawn from the Exquis World Dressage Masters at the beginning of February. Cheryl of Blandford, Novia Scotia told dressage-news.com that Paganini’s condition “is not serious or long term.” Just last week she got the ride on Liebling II, that horse that Carl Hester rode for the British silver medal team at the 2009 European Championships. With Paganini and Liebling, she said, she wants to focus on the WEG.
2. Lauren Sammis of South Orange, New Jersey on Sagacious HF is second in the NAL standings with a top-three score average of 72.117 per cent. She, too, withdrew from WDM. She said her goal is the WEG and may compete in Europe later this year as part of that program. “We would like to do the World Cup but preparing Sagacious for indoor competitions before what could be the biggest show of his life, the WEG,
made us decide not to go,” Lauren told dressage-news.com. “We would love to do it and have plans for the World Cup in future years,” she said of Sagacious, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Hyperion Farm. Lauren and Sagacious were on the United States’ gold medal team and also won individual silver at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro
3. Tina Konyot of North Stonington, Connecticut whose Calecto V has an average of 71.446 per cent. She withdrew from contention for
personal reasons. She and Calecto V, a 12-year-old Come Back II stallion, have competed in only nine Grand Prix and just three Grand Prix Specials so far.
4. Simone Williams and Wunder Ein competed in five qualifiers and the average of their top three results was 68.317 per cent. Simone of Navan, Ontario, told dressage-news after the Palm Beach Dressage Derby Grand Prix on Saturday that she will not go to the World Cup.
The USA’s Catherine Haddad who is based in Vechta, Germany, competed in the Western European League as she has successfully in the past. She competed in three events and accumulated 24 points to finish in 19th place. Her average score for the three competitions was 71.666 per cent.
“I’m not a candidate because I declared my qualification in the Western European League, not the North American League,” she told dressage-news.com. “When it became obvious in January that I would not get close to the top 10, I withdrew my bid. Very disappointing actually, since I had my best placings and scores this year but didn’t receive full points for them due to under-participation in the Grand Prix at both Lyon (France) and London.”
An obstacle to North American participation is a complete absence of World Cup qualifying competitions on the West Coast thus requiring riders to travel almost 3,000 miles (4,800km) for World Cup events on the East Coast or in Canada.
On the U.S. West Coast, Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho has ridden Felix and Wizard with impressive results, as has veteran international competitor Leslie Morse of Beverly Hills, California. Olympian Guenter Seidel is also based in Southern California but his top mount, U II, is considered too green for the top levels at this stage.
A search of news archives shows that a U.S. or Canadian combination has competed in every World Cup Final since the first one in ‘s-Hertogenbosh in 1986. The last time there was no U.S. pair at the World Cup was in 2000, again at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
The World Cup has been won twice by Americans–in 2003 by Debbie McDonald of Hailey, Idaho, on Brentina at Gothenburg, Sweden, and last year by Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, and Ravel at Las Vegas.