Reigning World Cup champion Anky van Grunsven demonstrated once again that she will be the one to beat in the Las Vegas final when she won the last qualifying round of the Western European league at the weekend.

Winner of a record six world cup titles, with her first 10 years ago in Los Angeles, van Grunsven triumphed in Düsseldorf with an impressive score of 84.42% on Keltec Salinero (pictured). As the reigning champion van Grunsven only had to compete in two qualifiers to ensure herself a place at the final, and she won both.

Second place went to the German former World Cup titleholder Isabell Werth, who produced a 80.70% test with Satchmo to leap up to the head of the rankings, demoting long time leader Ann- Kathrin Linsenhoff to second.

“I was so happy with him today,” Werth said of her sensitive equine partner. “In the past few months he has developed so much. He still needs more confidence, but today he could produce the power without going over the top. The most important thing for him now is to be more consistent.”

Eleven-year-old Satchmo will now be prepared for this year’s European championship, with Werth’s winning partner in Neumunster, 19-year-old Antony FRH, heading to Las Vegas in a swansong for the veteran who holds the record for World Cup participation.

“After 16 years together I can’t imagine competitive life without Tony,” explained Werth, “but this will be a beautiful way to end his career.”

A third place for Hubertus Schmidt in Düsseldorf saw him finish fourth in the standings, booking his Las Vegas ticket with Aramis. He first rode the horse as a six-year-old, taking him to win at small tour level, before the horse departed for the United States with his owner. Schmidt took up the reins again last October and the reunited partnership is going well.

“Aramis was so relaxed and good to ride in both tests,” said Schmidt. “He does not have much experience at this level, and I was not so happy with his piaffe today, as I had to compromise to keep him relaxed, but I know the key to getting it better.”

Fourth place secured Sweden’s Jan Brink his Las Vegas start with Bjorsells Briar. “He’s in great shape and I’m especially pleased that he has been really good in the grand prix in his four qualifiers,” said the Swedish number one.

For Denmark’s Lone Joergensen and Holland’s Sven Rothenberger, the trip to Duesseldorf paid off with confirmation that both had qualifier for the final.

Judge at C Dr Volker Moritz said: “The winner produced a breathtaking, world class performance and with 11 horses scoring over 70% in the freestyle, we saw excellent dressage sport.”

The Las Vegas line up will also feature Britain’s Carl Hester with Escapado, who finished equal fifth in the league. Three wild card riders for the final will be announced shortly.

FEI World Cup Freestyle to Music results

1. Keltec Salinero (Anky van Grunsven) NED 84.42;
2. Satchmo (Isabell Werth) GER 80.70;
3. Aramis (Hubertus Schmidt) GER 78.10;
4. Bjorsells Briar (Jan Brink) SWE 77.70;
5. Hardthof’s Ludewig G (Lone Joergensen) DEN 75.40;
6. IPS Gribaldi (Edward Gal) NED 74.75.

Western European League Final Standings

1. Isabell Werth GER 67;
2. Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff GER) 65;
3. Andreas Helgstrand DEN 64;
4. Hubertus Schmidt GER 61;
5=. Carl Hester GBR and Edward Gal NED 60;
7. Jan Brink SWE 57;
8=. Sven Rothenberger NED and Lone Joergensen DEN 50.