World Cup is Anyone’s Title to Win When Starts Thursday with Grand Prix
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
GOTHENBURG, Sweden, April 24–The World Cup Final is anyone’s title to win in its 28th year as the only annual global championship of dressage with nine of the 11 top ranked horse and rider combinations showing up at this historic port that funnelled more Swedes to the New World than any other city.
Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival will attempt to win the event for a third consecutive year, only the second rider to do so, the other being the legendary Netherlands’ rider Anky van Grunsen who twice won it on three straight occasions in her total of nine titles.
This year Adelinde will face tough competition from last year’s runnerup, Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW, her German Olympic team mates Kristine Sprehe and Desperados as well as Glock’s Undercover that Edward Gal has developed into a spectacular performer and local favorite Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén and Don Auriello who have grown in confidence after their third year in Florida.
The impact of Florida weather cannot be minimized as Europe has gone through one of its most bitter winters in memory and the lowest temperatures this week are close to freezing–it’s supposedly spring–which has affected ticket sales in the Scandinavium arena that can seat up to 12,000 spectators but the first couple of days are below expectations.
As in most years, the World Cup lives up to its original intent of being the final of the European indoor circuit thought it should be top notch because this is where most of the best in the sport live.
Canadians Jacqueline Brooks on D Niro and Jaimey Irwin on Lindor’s Finest represent North America and Russia’s Tatiana Dorofeeva on Khorovod and Inna Logutenkova on Vian Stallone are from the Central European Leagues. There is no one from the Pacific League.
The other 14 are from seven Western European nations, Germany and the Netherlands each fielding full contingents of three horses and riders.
Adelinde and Parzival have reformatted the music and choreography since the previous two titles and tried out the new routine at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands last month preparing to take the biggest slice of the prize money of €250,000 (US325,000).
No matter how tough the challenge, the 33-year-old Dutch rider is a fighter. She brought Parzival, a KWPN gelding (Jazz x Fidora x Ulft) now 16 years old and entering their seventh year at Grand Prix to the top of the sport from the days when he was almost impossible to ride and is known to have jumped into the arena while circling it before the bell rang.
Edward Gal, her team mate and winner of the World Cup title in 2010 on Totilas, appears to have spun his magic with Glock’s Undercover, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding (Ferro x Mimosavrouwe x Donnerhall) that he first competed a year ago.
At s’Hertogenbosch Edward produced a performance on Undercover that was reminiscent of his moments with Totilas that brought tears from many in the crowd.
Edward was almost speechless afterward, hardly daring to believe that he has found himself another black horse with such star quality and that he is finding form just ahead of the Final.
One of the hallmarks of success in indoor dressage in stadiums where thousands of fans are not far away and noise intensifies, is displayed in the ability of Helen Langehanenberg to keep Damon Hill focused. Her 13-year-old Westfalen stallion (Donnerhall x Romanze – Rubinstein I) thrives in the electric atmosphere of indoor venues and, unlike many of his rivals, is most likely to produce his very best in a pressure-cooker environment.
“He just loves the buzz of the crowds and he can’t get enough attention,” the 30-year-old rider said.
The pair enjoyed back-to-back victories on the Western European League circuit earlier this year and come to the series finale in the knowledge that they have already beaten the defending champions after edging them out for the very first time in Amsterdam in January.
“We all have so many hopes and so many dreams, but they don’t always come true,” she said after her victory in Neumunster, Germany in February. “My dreams and aims have always been clear, but I don’t let them put pressure on myself or my horse. You just never know how it will work out. We stay focused and we work hard to achieve our goals. I am just very happy that we are succeeding right now.”
The home contingent includes Patrik Kittel, Minna Telde and Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven. Sweden has claimed the title just once, in 1998 when Louise Nathhorst and Walk On Top reigned supreme in Gothenburg. Louise is now the coach for Tinne.
Isabell Werth of Germany, who won the title in 2007, also cannt be counted out, while Italy’s Valentina Truppa has enjoyed a great winter season and Denmark’s Anna Kasprzak was also in form.
The action gets underway with the Grand Prix Thursday and the Freestyle is Saturday.
Complete list of entries:
Jacqueline Brooks – D Niro
Jaimey Irwin – Lindor’s Finest
Sidsel Johansen – Schianto
Anna Kasprzak – Donnperignon
Helen Langehanenberg – Damon Hill NRW
Kristina Sprehe – Desperados
Isabell Werth – Don Johnson
Valentina Truppa – Fixdesign Eremo del Castegno
Marlies van Baalen – Miciano
Adelinde Cornelissen – Jerich Parzival
Edward Gal – Glock’s Undercover
Tatiana Dorofeeva – Khorovod
Marcela Krinke Susmelj – Smeyers Molberg
Patrik Kittel – Watermill Scandic H.B.C.
Minna Telde – Santana