World Cup Western Europe Opening Leg in Denmark With 5 of Top 20 Ranked Combinations
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Oct. 14, 2020
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The World Cup’s coronavirus-shortened Western European League series launches in Aarhus, Denmark Saturday with five of the top 20 ranked rider and horse combinations in the lineup including the 2019 winning partnership of home nation stars Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian.
Four of the pairs to start at Aarhus have a head start in campaigning for a start at the Final next April in which Western Europe gets at least nine of the 18 starting places, having already earned points in Central Europe.
Isabell Werth on world No. 7 Emilio, whose campaign for an unprecedented fourth straight World Cup title on her second ranked Weihegold OLD was delayed by cancellation of the 2020 Final in Las Vegas, will begin fulfillment of the requirement of at least two starts for the title defender, but doesn’t earn points.
Other ranked combinations for Aarhus include world No. 8 Helen Langehanenberg on Damsey FRH, the Hanoverian stallion now aged 18 that placed third at the 2019 Final, Catherine and Bohemian No. 9, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on Zaire-E at No. 11 and Therese Nilshagen on 17th ranked Dante Weltino OLD.
Of the riders competing in Aarhus, Sweden’s Thamar Zweistra has already earned 23 points from Central European World Cup competitions. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who is competing Delaunay OLD here have each already earned 20 points while Germany’s Jessica Süss has 18 points and Helen Langehanenberg 17. Morgan Barbançon of France who is not competing in Aarhus is at the top of the Western European standings having accumulated 29 points.
Other Danish pairs are Andreas Helgstrand/Fiontini, Lone Bang Larsen/Bakkely’s Onandt, Charlotte Heering/Bufranco, Carina Cassøe Krüth/Heiline’s Danciera and Helene Melsen/Aston Martin.
The deadline for applications to replace the four Western European events–Madrid; Stuttgart, Germany; London Olympia and Amsterdam–that have pulled out of the series of 10 qualifiers was Tuesday.
The International Equestrian Federation said that any replacement shows–it did not name any applicants–would be announced “in due course.” Cancellations of major events continue, however, with the Stockholm International Horse Show and its Saab Dressage Top 10 that had already been pushed back from November to February announcing Wednesday that, too, is off the schedule and will return in November 2021.
A possible replacement qualifier is the Frankfurt Christmas show, already a top rated CDI5* as well as finals of the prestigious Nürnberger Burg-Pokal for developing Small Tour horses and Louisdor Prize for developing Grand Prix horses that typically get a full house though that may not be possible this year with coronavirus restrictions. The show hosted a World Cup qualifier until nine years ago as well as the only host of the Young Rider World Cup that was popular around the globe. It has not been staged anywhere else since.
The first title for Isabell Werth in the annual world championship based on the Grand Prix Freestyle was on Fabienne in 1992 at Gothenburg, Sweden which will host next April’s Final. She won again on Warum Nicht FRH in Las Vegas in 2007.
On Weihegold, her 2016 Olympic team gold and individual silver medal mount, she won the World Cup in Omaha in 2017, Paris in 2018 and Gothenburg in 2019. She and Weihegold, an Oldenburg mare that will be 16 years old in 2021, have won all four CDI starts this year.
Other World Cup leagues have also been impacted by the pandemic.
Central Europe, which is allocated two slots in the Final, initially saw widespread cancellations but has staged six qualifiers so far with three more still on the calendar, with Minsk in Belarus scheduled for this week.
North America, also with an allocation of two starting places at the Final, saw four qualifiers canceled earlier this year but the addition of new events in California and Florida has boosted the total to eight.
Tryon, North Carolina next week kicks off the series with two qualifiers set for Thermal, California next month, with four in Wellington, Florida beginning in December then three more at the Global Dressage Festival over the winter and one at Temecula, California next March.
The Pacific League, allocated one slot that typically is decided by a league final that cuts out riders based outside Australia or New Zealand unless they qualify in the regions where they are located, has no events on its calendar. The last international equestrian event in Australia was in February and mid-March in New Zealand. Two World Cup qualifiers scheduled in Australia for December have been canceled with no others scheduled in either country.