Reigning World champions Anky Van Grunsven (NED) and Keltec Salinero, the favorites for Saturday’s World Cup freestyle final, won the grand prix with 78.25% in Amsterdam.

Salinero was unusually relaxed, being almost still in the first halt and completely still in the last.

“He really stood and not just for one second but more, which seems to be really difficult for me,” laughed Anky. “He was even more relaxed than I expected him to be, although he did start the two-tempis without me, which I didn’t expect as he always waits for me to ask.”

Anky said the pirouettes also felt easier for her. Just the walk brought the mark down a little and the test looked tamer than the pair has produced this year. Judge at C Jennie Loriston-Clarke said: “I didn’t give Anky any 10’s today as I have in the past, although I nearly did for her piaffe passage tours.”

Jan Brink (SWE), who beat Anky at CDIO Aachen in 2005, came second with 75.417% on Bjorsells Briar. The pair has performed better tests, with Jan making a mistake at the beginning of the two-time changes.

“I was too quick with my signals,” he explained, “it was my mistake. But Briar was really relaxed in the arena, which is very important for him.”

Isabell Werth (GER) was third with the 18hh chestnut gelding Warum Nicht on 75.208%.

“He’s becoming more quiet and consistent,” said Isabell of the 10-year-old, who only started competing internationally one year ago.The pair just had a small mistake in the last extension.

“That was stupid of me because I wanted to make sure we had no mistakes. It was an unforced error,” said Isabell.

Anky’s pupil Edward Gal, who beat her in last year’s grand prix, had too many mistakes this time, including in the on-time changes, and finished sixth with Group 4 Securicor Lingh on 71.917%.

National champion Laura Bechtolsheimer was the only British rider to compete. At 21 she is one of the youngest riders ever to qualify for the World Cup – Anky van Grunsven was also 21 on her first appearance.

Laura rode her father’s former grand prix horse Douglas Dorsey and finished 15th with 66.417%, leaving her just outside the placings for Saturday’s main final. The pair has achieved higher marks in the lead up to the World Cup and had a few small mistakes here, including breaking into canter rather than passage after the walk.

The only other British rider offered a chance to compete was Wayne Channon. His European team ride Lorenzo CH was withdrawn after a kick, which, although the horse was sound, meant he lacked preparation time.

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