World Cup Defending Champion Hans Peter Minderhoud Pulls Lame Flirt Out Of Omaha Final

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2016 World Cup champion Hans Peter Minderhoud with Glock’s Fiirt in background. The pair will be absent from the Omaha Final. © 2016 Pelle Wedenmark/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

OMAHA, Nebraska, Mar. 24, 2017-Defending World Cup champion Hans Peter Minderhoud pulled Glock’s Flirt from the Final here next week when the horse was lame just hours before the trans-Atlantic flight to Omaha.

The 43-year-old 2016 and 2008 Olympian for the Netherlands was “totally devastated” by the need to withdraw from the 32nd year of the championship and the first time in Omaha in America’s heartland.

He explained that he rode Flirt in the morning and the horse was really good. But he took him out for a hand walk before the flight to Omaha “and saw that his walk was not good.”

“We took him to the vet and he is injured,” Hans Peter said through a spokesperson. “It will take some time for recovery and they can’t compete at the World Cup Final in Omaha.

“So sorry for that but horses first!”

The planeload of European dressage and jumper horses are scheduled to arrive in Omaha Saturday and another planeload from Palm Beach, Florida on Monday.

Hans Peter and Flirt won the title for his first time in 2016 on Flirt, a 16-year-old Swiss Warmblood.

Facing what he said would be a much tougher World Cup Final competition this year, he had created a new musical freestyle that won rave reviews and he intended to perform in his campaign to repeat as winner.

Hans Peter and Flirt, the 11th ranked combination in the world, had beaten German superstar Isabell Werth on Emilio in the first performance of the freestyle in the Netherlands earlier this month.

Isabell, however, is bringing Weihegold OLD to Omaha, the Olympic team gold and individual silver medal on which she is ranked No. 1 in the world.

She will, however, face tough competition from reigning American champion Laura Graves and Verdades, ranked No. 4 in the world and producing the best results of her career on the 15-year-old KWPN gelding. This year on the Adequan Global Dressage Frestival circuit in Wellington, Florida Laura joined the exclusive “80% Club,” one of only 14 riders in the history of dressage to have achieved 80 per cent at Grand Prix. The Olympic team bronze medal pair did it twice.

Carl Hester on his Olympic silver medal mount Nip Tuck and ranked No. 5 in the world will also be in Omaha looking to add another title to the two won by Great Britain by Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro.