Current Olympic champion Anky van Grunsven swept aside all opposition to win her local World Cup qualifier at Indoor Brabant, ‘s Hertogenbosch at the weekend. On her first outing with Keltec Salinero since their victorious Olympic freestyle in Athens last summer, van Grunsven finished nearly four per cent ahead of her nearest challenger, compatriot and pupil Edward Gal with Lingh.

Germany’s Isabell Werth followed Antony’s superb Neumunster victory, with a super test on Satchmo to take third place. The former titleholder has now moved up to fourth place in the standings putting her in line for a place at the final in Las Vegas.

Indoor Brabant provided a dramatic indicator of the top sport expected at the 2005 FEI World Cup Final. Judge at ‘C’ Frances Verbeek said: “It’s a great standard and so exciting to judge — two-and-a-half hours seemed more like 10mins. Anky and Salinero looked far more relaxed in the freestyle than they had in the grand prix. She is brilliant at keeping her nerve so well as Salinero was a bit tense in the first class, but apart from the first pirouette, it was a great test.”

Lingh made a few small mistakes, but this was another combination to make the most of their freestyle. “In comparison to the grand prix, Lingh went with lots of energy and power,” explains Verbeek. Edward Gal now lies in equal fifth place in the standings on 60 points with Britain’s Carl Hester, who was ninth with a fairly hot Escapado, scoring 72.25%.

Isabell Werth’s Satchmo also overcame grand prix tension to shine in the freestyle. Frances Verbeek said: “She did a super job. We could all see she enjoyed her ride, and Satchmo really showed the best he can at this stage.”

With just one qualifier to go and a wealth of talent vying for those eight Western European League tickets to Las Vegas, there is all to play for in Dusseldorf (31 March – 3 April).

FEI World Cup Qualifier Freestyle to Music result

1. Keltec Salinero (Anky van Grunsven) NED 83.60;
2. Lingh (Edward Gal) NED 79.55;
3. Satchmo (Isabell Werth) GER 78.525;
4. Aramis (Hubertus Schmidt) GER 77.30;
5. Bjorsells Briar (Jan Brink) SWE 77.20;
6. Salieri (Sylvia Ikle) SUI 75.30;
7. Guinness (Louise Nathhorst) SWE 74.00;
8. Le Primeur (Marie-Line Wettstein) SUI 73.875;
9. Escapado (Carl Hester) GBR 72.25;
10. Barclay II (Sven Rothenberger) NED 72.25.