Russia’s Inessa Merkulova & Hanna Karasiova of Belarus Top 2 When World Cup Central European League Wraps Up

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Inessa Merkulova and Mister X. © Ken Braddick/
Inessa Merkulova and Mister X. File photo. © Ken Braddick/

MOSCOW, Dec. 11, 2016–Hanna Karasiova of Belarus and Arlekino won the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday to finish in the top two in Central Europe to be invited to the global championship final in Omaha Mar. 27-April 2. Russia’s Inessa Merkulova and Mister X finished atop the rankings.

In the last of 12 Central European qualifiers, Hanna and the Latvian-bred 10-year-old gelding scored 74.05 per cent to consolidate their standing in second place.

Russia’s Elena Zhaivoronskaya on Sandra was second on 68.780 per cent and Natalia Shadrina on Kardinal was third on 70.58 per cent.

Hanna, 32 years old, began competing Arlekino at Big Tour more than two years ago but has shown outside Central Europe only twice, in two young horse events in France.

Hanna’s only championship appearance was in the European Young Rider Championships in 2004.

Inessa Merkulova on Mister X, a 12-year-old Russian-bred Trakehner gelding, are ranked No. 6 in the world.

The pair competed at the Rio Olympics this summer, the 2014 World Games in Normandy, the 2015 European Championships in Aachen, Germany and the 2014, 2015 and 2016 World Cup Finals in Lyon, France, Las Vegas and Gothenburg, Sweden, respectively.

Central Europe was the first of four geographic zones to complete the qualifying schedule for the World Cup Final being held in Omaha for the first time.

The Pacific/Asia League has completed qualifying this weekend for a league final–the only region to stage one–in New Zealand at the beginning of February to select a single representative.

The North American League has so far staged three of its nine qualifiers, with four at the Adequan Global Dressage in Florida, one in Las Vegas and one in California still to come to fill two places.

The Western European League with nine qualifiers stages the fifth event at London Olympia this week and gets to send nine combinations.

The other four places go to the defending titleholder, Hans Peter Minderhoud of the Netherlands, a combination outside the established geographic leagues, a “home” athlete and a rider to be invited as an extra starting place.