World Cup Western European League Launches This Week

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Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands holding aloft the World Cup she won on Jerich Parzival in 2012 for the second straight year. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dresage-news.com

The World Cup Western European League, one of four circuits for the only annual global championship for dressage and centered on the more popular then ever musical freestyle, launches this week with Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival headlining the event in Odense, Denmark.

The Dutch star and her 15-year-old KWPN gelding (Jazz x Fidora x Ulft) are riding the first of two events needed to defend the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) titles they won the past two years.

The start of the eight-event WEL schedule at Odense will eventually lead half of the 18 combinations from around the world to the Final in Gothenberg, Sweden, next April. Along the way are Lyon, France; Stuttgart, Germany; Stockholm; London; Amsterdam; Neumunster, Germany and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.

The indoor winter WEL series was slimmed down to eight events for 2012/2013 from 10 in recent years and also won an extension of sponsorship by the New York-based fashion house Reem Accra that runs through 2016.

The reduced schedule as well as the failure of the World Dressage Masters to get a competing series of indoor shows off the ground appears to have heightened interest in the 28th year of the World Cup.

The other leagues are Central Europe with eight events, North America with 10 and Pacific League with six, none of which have a series sponsor.

Adelinde and Parzival who were on the Netherlands’ Olympic bronze medal team and also won individual silver will be joined by 10 other riders from the London Games.

Helen Langehanenberg will be riding Fürst Khevenhüller and not her Olympic mount Damon Hill NRW, but fellow German Olympian Anabel Balkenhol will ride Dablino FRH into the arena while Nadine Capellmann will show her 16-year-old Elvis VA, whom she competed at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The Dutch, following the legend created by Anky van Grunsven with nine World Cup titles to her name, will be represented by two riders from the 2012 Games in addition to Adelinde–Edward Gal on Blue Hors Romanov and Patrik van der Meer on Uzzo. Hans Peter Minderhoud, a 2008 Dutch Olympian, will be there with Withney van ‘t Genthof.

Swedish Olympic team combination of Tinne Vilhelmson and Don Auriello, whose Grand Prix career began in Florida less than two years ago, Finland’s Mikaela Lindh and Skovlunds Más Guapothe, Siri Helljesen and Dorina and Belgium’s Claudia Fassaert and Donnerfee will be bringing their London experience to Odense.

Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Digby, reserve champion at the World Cup Final in 2011 and her Olympic team mate Anna Kasprzak on Donnperignon will represent the home side.

A total of 18 horses and riders will be invited to compete at the Final–half of them from WEL, two each from the North American and Central European Leagues, one from the Pacific League, Asia/Afria and and South America and two selected by the International Equestrian Federation.

No more than three combinations from a single nation can go to the Final, which like the Olympics will have a ground jury of seven judges instead of five in regular CDIs and a three-member judge’s supervisory panel to quarterback the scoring.

Some riders build up points in other leagues–100 per cent of points available for one show and 50 per cent for a second show in another league that give riders more of a shot at qualifying.

The World Cup Final is not a level playing field, though, for all riders and horses when it is held in Europe–as it is most years.

Organizers in Europe pay only a portion of the costs of transportation of horse, rider, groom, accommodation and food for combinations from outside Europe.

When the Final is in North America, the only region outside Europe to have hosted a Final, for example, virtually all the costs of Europeans are paid by the organizer.