The defending World Cup champions, Adelinde Cornelissen and her mighty chestnut gelding Jerich Parzival, swept to victory in the grand prix at the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands on Friday.

Adelinde had experienced a nerve-wracking night after Parzival was not accepted during the first horse inspection on Thursday, but he passed when re-inspected shortly before the grand prix and went on to produce a winning score of 78.024.

“Parzival maybe doesn’t have the rhythm of competition yet this year,” said Adelinde, who predicted that “tomorrow he’s going to be even better!”.

Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill finished second with Italy’s Valentina Truppa and Eremo Del Castegno in third.

The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Tango were fourth ahead of Richard Davison and Hiscox Artemis — the only British pair to contest the finals.

Tragic loss of top coach

The class was overshadowed by the tragic news that Germany’s team coach, Holger Schmezer, had passed away suddenly the previous evening in his ‘s-Hertogenbosch hotel room. Riders and spectators showed their respect by standing for a minute’s silence during the presentation ceremony.

At the post-competition press conference, Helen Langehanenberg explained that the she and her fellow-German competitors, Isabell Werth and Nadine Capellmann, sat together well into the night discussing whether they should withdraw from the final under the circumstances.

“It was really hard for everyone — completely unexpected,” said Helen. “In the end it was our opinion that Holger would want us to ride — that was his aim, why he came here, so we had to do it for him.”

Grand prix result

1, Jerich Parzival (Adelinde Cornelissen) NED 78.024;
2, Damon Hill (Helen Langehanenberg) GER 76.125;
3, Eremo de Castegno (Valentina Truppa) ITA 75.106;
4, Glock’s Tango (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 73.404;
5, Hiscox Artemis (Richard Davison) GBR 73.374;
6, Toy Story (Patrik Kittel) SWE 72.751.