Russia’s Inessa Merkulova & Avans Take Ratomka, Belarus World Cup Freestyle

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Russia's Inessa Merkulova and Avans.
Russia’s Inessa Merkulova and Avans.

RATOMKA, Belarus, April 17, 2016–Inessa Merkulova and her Russian-bred stallion Avans won the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday in the inaugural event in the Central European League leading to the Final in the American Midwest city of Omaha next year.

Inessa, best known for her big moving Mister X ranked No. 9 in the world, was awarded 75.675 per cent in only their second Freestyle since beginning Big Tour last October. The pair’s previous Grand Prix Freestyle result was 71.300 per cent.

Belarus’s Hanna Karasiova on Arlekino took second place on 75.450 per cent that was also a personal best for the 2004 European Championship Young Rider competitor and the 10-year-old Latvian-bred warmblood.

Russia’s Marina Aframeeva on Vosk, the 11-year-old Russian-bred Hanoverian also owned by Inessa Merkulova and winner of the Grand Prix Saturday, placed third on 74.275 per cent. Marina and Vosk along with Inessa and Mister X earned two individual starting places for Russia at the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

This event was the first of a record 14 events in nine nations tentatively scheduled for the World Cup Central European League to run through mid-December. The previous high number of events in the CEL was 10 in several years.

Inessa earned the maximum of 20 points for the win, while Hanna Karasiova took 17 and Marina Aframeeva 15. Central Europe is assigned two places in the Final of the annual world championship centered on the Freestyle. North America also gets two spots while the Pacific League is awarded one and Western Europe nine.

The next CEL World Cup qualifier is in Lipica, Slovenia May 26-29.

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping will be staged for the first time in Omaha, Nebraska at the end of April, 2017.

Results:

CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle

Judges-E: Yuri Romanov RUS H: Natallia Rubashko BLR C: Nataliya Petukhova BLR M: Tilna Karkkolainen FIN B: Cara Whitham CAN

Ratomka CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle