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Reigning World Cup champions Anky van Grunsven and Gestion Salinero beat reigning European individual champions Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty (pictured) in the grand prix special at the Aachen CDIO. The Dutch pair nailed the class by just 0.12% — scoring 77.160% to Rusty’s 77.040%.

So with Rusty triumphing in the grand prix and Salinero in the special, there will be a final showdown between the two rivals in the grand prix freestyle on Sunday.

The competition will give the best indication of who will gain the individual Olympic title in Athens in little more than three weeks. If Anky beats Ulla to the individual Aachen title, it will be first the first time that Rusty has lost a major championship since the World Equestrian Games in Jerez in 2002, when Nadine Capellman and Farbenfroh got individual gold. The only exception to this was the 2003 World Cup title which was removed from Rusty six months later as the result of a positive test for a prohibited substance.

Three British team members made it through to the grand prix special. Former national champions Peter Storr and Gambinus performed another good test with highlights in the half pass and extended walk to score 67%.

Nicola McGivern and Active Walero regained their form to score 71.28% in the grand prix special, scoring eights for the piaffe and passage tours and making it through to Sunday’s kur.

Current national champions Richard Davison and Ballaseyr Royale made an expensive mistake in the one-time changes to drop down the order to 19th on a score of 68.360.

Grand prix special results

1. Gestion Salinero (Anky van Grunsven) 77.16 NED;
2. Rusty (Ulla Salzgeber) 77.040 GER;
3. Weltall VA (M Schaudt) 75.84 GER;
12. Active Walero (Nicola McGivern) 71.280 GBR;
19. Ballaseyr Royale (R Davison) 68.36 GBR;
22. Gambrinus (P Storr) 67 GBR.