Jan Brink of Sweden and the 14-year-old Bjorsells Briar 889 were victorious in Aachen, beating last year’s champions Anky van Grunsven and Keltec Salinero.
Van Grunsven, the current Olympic medallist, European champion and World cup titleholder, improved on yesterday’s below par grand prix special to earn 81.525% in the kur. This was enough to put the pressure on Brink but he was unfased and produced another powerful but relaxed test to win with 82.7%, and secure the overall title.
Brink and Bjorsells Briar 899 finished second at the European championships at Hickstead in 2003 and were third at this year’s European championships in Hagen last month.
Judge at C, Dr Volker Moritz said: “It’s good that Jan has won today when he has been so close for so long.”
Brink added: “I love riding in Aachen, it’s the greatest competition in the world for everyone and so to win here is really big.
“We’ve had a great week, my horse was going for it today but again without being tense. I was a little in front of the music at times but I notice that more than the audience. If I can ride the test a few more times it will be perfect,” he said.
This was the second time Brink has performed this kur, having debuted the freestyle at the European championships in Hagen. The compilation of Swedish chart songs included the very fitting, My Number One.
Van Grunsven’s Keltec Salinero was restless in the halts but otherwise had no big errors in the kur, which was produced by Cees Slings and Viktor Kerkhoff and includes French classics such as Je Ne Regret Rein by Edith Piaf.
“Something frightened him yesterday,” said van Grunsven, explaining her uncharacteristic 13th position in the special, which hindered her chances of winning the championship. “It made him go into a kind of panic. But today in the kur he was much better.”
Anky will now aim to defend her world cup title, where she will have no competition from Brink.
“I have to think of my horse’s age and plan carefully for the world equestrian games next year,” he said.