Danish rider Andreas Helgstrand confirmed he is in good form when he beat Olympic bronze-medal Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and a posse of Scandinavia and German competitors to win the second FEI World Cup Western European League qualifier in Stockholm’s Globen Arena at the weekend.

Ferrer-Salat and Beauvalais were off a good start, finishing first in the grand prix at 73.54% — some two points ahead of Helgstrand and Blue Hors Cavan. FEI world number-one dressage rider, Germany’s Ann-Marie Linsenhoff was third with Renoir-UNICEF.

But Helgstrand and Blue Hors Cavan — who had already won the first qualifier in Aarhus last month — went on to perform their “best freestyle to date” and landed the top spot with a score of 79.475%. Spooky Beauvalais suffered from the hot atmosphere and the Spanish combination only managed to get second place at 77.950%.

Blue Hors Cavan also won in Stockholm in 2000 and 2001 with previous rider Lars Petersen and this third victory made him the Globen Arena’s most successful dressage horse.

“He could not have gone better today, he was working with me all the way”, says Helgstrand, who only started riding Cavan at international level in May this year. ‘”It was daunting to start riding a horse with such an impressive record, but he had a great grounding and he has no bad points.”

Denmark was in for another pleasant surprise when Per Sandgaard and Zancor also performed their best freestyle to date and climbed from fifth to third place, finishing at 76.375%.

Saandgard started riding 13-year-old Zancor three years ago. “He was only at elementary level in dressage and had only done five shows,” he says “He was for sale at the time — though he isn’t now — and he was, and still is very sensitive. It took time to get close to him and we are still developing our relationship.”

Linsenhoff was fourth behind Sandgaard, but keeps the top spot in the FEI ranking with 50 points. Helgstrand is in hot pursuit with 40 points and is well-placed to compete at the FEI World Cup final in Las Vegas.

Ferrer-Salat, who is in ninth position with 17 points, is likely to improve her standing when she competes at Olympia in December. Saandgard — who is 11th with 15 points, on par with Germany’s Isabell Werth and Holland’s Sven Rothenberger — may also make it to Las Vegas.

Sweden’s top rider, Jan Brink, was out of action because his mount, Bjorsells Briar, is still recovering from a knock on his knee. The best Swede was former World Cup champion Louise Nathhorst in eight position with her stallion Guinness. As for the Brits, Wayne Channon and Lorenzo were 16th in the grand prix and didn’t make it to the kür.

After a somewhat tense grand prix, the top 12 riders all scored more than 70% in the kür. “Almost all the horses went better [on Sunday], being calmer than they were in [the] grand prix,” says Ground Jury President Birgitta Bergsten, from Sweden.

The next FEI World Cup dressage qualifier takes place in Maastricht,
Belgium, on 11 and 12 December.

FEI World Cup qualifier kür results

1. Blue Hors Cavan (Andreas Helgstrand) DEN 79.47
2. Beauvalais (Beatriz Ferrer-Salat) ESP 77.95
3. Zancor (Per Sandgaard) DEN 77.95
4. Renoir Unicef (Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff) GER 74.60
5. Amando II (Gina Capellmann-Luetkemeier) GER 74.00
6. Albano (Heike Kemmer) GER 73.65