Two Florida-Based Danes, Italy’s Valentina Truppa, Russian Inessa Merkulova Invited to World Cup Final
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Mar. 23, 2015
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The Florida-based Lars Petersen and Mikala Gundersen of Denmark, Italy’s Valentina Truppa and Inessa Merkulova of Russia received invitations Monday to compete at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next month. Steffen Peters and Laura Graves will be the only North Americans in the Final.
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) issued the invitations to the four riders as “extra starting places” based on results in World Cup qualifiers and ranking in the world.
The four were added to the invite list that already includes Steffen Peters on Legolas and Laura Graves on Verdades of the United States who clinched the two places reserved for the North American League as well as defending titleholder Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain and Valegro.
Lars on Mariett and Mikala on My Lady, who both competed on the Danish team at last year’s World Games, qualified as residents within the North American League.
Inessa placed third in the Central European League and she will join two other Russians, Elena Sidneva and Tatiana Dorofeeva, who placed first and second in the CEL.
Valentina placed 19th in the Western European League.
The other riders invited from Western Europe are Edward Gal, Danielle Heijkoop and Hans Peter Minderhoud of the Netherlands; Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, Fabienne Lütkemeier and Isabell Werth of Germany; Agnete Kirk Thinggaard of Denmark; Morgan Barbancon Mestre of Spain and Paulinda Friberg of Sweden.
However, as is usual, some riders and horses will drop out and be replaced by other combinations.
Danielle Heijkoop is reported to have withdrawn and will be replaced by Terhi Stegars of Finland while Malin Hamilton of Sweden is next on the list if one of the extra starting place riders drops out.
No riders will represent the Pacific League as the two qualifiers from Australia opted not to go to Las Vegas.
According to the official schedule, the Dutta Corp. based in North Salem, New York and Wellington, Florida has arranged charter flights to bring European horses to and from Las Vegas and paid by the competition organizers.
The cost of transporting the American horses will be paid by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.
Lars and Mikala will have to pay all their own costs as well as for their horses, according to the schedule.
Both Lars on Mariett and Mikala on My Lady were invited to the Final in Lyon, France last year, but Lars was forced to withdraw when his horse developed a hoof abscess.
Different formats in the four geographic regions to qualify for the World Cup and payment of expenses for riders and horses from the different leagues have been issues in recent years.
The Western and Central European Leagues both follow the procedures of earning points for placings through a specified number of events and provides for riders to earn points for one event and half the number of points for a second event in another league.
The North American League is decided by the average of the top two scores in qualifiers in the United States and Canada and riders from those two countries get preference over riders from other nations who may live in North America. The committee of Canadian and U.S. officials responsible for the North American rules have resisted a points-based system.
The Pacific League is the only region where a League Final has been staged in recent years to select the rider for the sole place at the Final and takes no account of Australian or New Zealand riders competing elsewhere in the world.
The World Cup was first staged 30 years ago to feature the Grand Prix Freestyle and as a series of the European indoor circuit in winter.
Europeans have won all but two of the 29 Finals so far–Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands nine times.
Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003 and Steffen Peters on Ravel in 2009 are the two American and only non-European victors.