Last Minute Preparations for World Cup Final–Veterinary Check Friday

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Mikala Münter Gundersen and My Lady. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Mikala Münter Gundersen and My Lady. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Both American horses–Calecto V ridden by Tina Konyot and Van the Man ridden by Cesar Parra–“look great,” U.S. Chef d”Equipe Robert Dover reported Thursday as they go through last-minute preparations for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final in Lyon, France this weekend.

Mikala Münter Gundersen, Florida-based and with the American-owned My Lady one of two Danish riders, had this comment for dressage-news.com: “It’s pretty wild to be stabled next to Valegro, Damon Hill, Don Auriellio, Don Johnson, Glock’s Undercover, etc.”

The 18 combinations from 11 countries–the veteran Australian international competitor Mary Hanna on her 2012 Olympic mount, Sancette, having traveled the greatest distance while Marc Boblet on Noble Dream is the sole represetative of the home side–will go through the veterinary check Friday.

Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain on Valegro, with two gold medals from the London Olympics and the two individual golds from the European Championships last year in her vault, will challenge the defending World Cup titleholder Helen Langehanenberg of Germany on Damon Hill NRW.

So, too, will the other 16 combinations including Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén and Don Auriello ranked No. 1 in the World Cup Western European League and fresh from their third winter basking in Florida’s sub-tropical warmth instead of shivering in Sweden’s near Arctic cold.

And The Netherlands’ Edward Gal with a World Cup title in 2010 on the superstar Totilas on his resumé can be expected to wow the 9,000 spectators that have snapped up all the tickets to pack the Eurexpo stadium for the Grand Prix Saturday and the Freestyle Sunday.

The weather in Lyon was described by Robert Dover as “gorgeous.”

Mikala seconded the opinon. My Lady, she told dressage-news.com, “loves the cooler weather (more than I do for sure) and she’s very fresh.”

Mikala who is based in Wellington is competing in her first World Cup Final. She had expected to be stabled with fellow Florida-based Danish rider Lars Petersen and the U.S.-owned Mariett but the 16-year-old mare developed an abscess on her right hind foot and had to scratch.

Everyone, including jumper riders whose Final is being held at the same time, have gushed over both the indoor facility that is rated among the best ever with bright lights, chandeliers in the competition arena, a warm up area larger than usual with food and atmosphere befitting the first dual World Cup championship in France.

“The show organizers are so friendly and they are trying very hard to make everyone feel comfortable,” Mikala said. “Lots of bedding for the horses, nice food for the riders and comfortable lounge areas to rest. They really make you feel special.

“What a great learning experience it is as well to watch the rock star riders work these brilliant horses. All of them working their horses focused and nicely without stress or pressure. It’s been a pleasure to watch today.”