The opening round of the FEI Reem Acra World Cup final in Gothenburg has been punctuated by surprises and controversy.

Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg was first to go with Damon Hill and her score of 79.863% proved unassailable.

“He gave me a great feeling,” said Helen. “His ears were forward and he was really willing — he gave me so much trust.”

The twice defending champion Adelinde Cornelissen had to settle for fourth place (75.41%) after Parzival showed extreme resistance in the first piaffe, which scored mostly ones from the seven judges.

Edward Gal steered the hot-headed Glock’s Undercover into second with 78.46% and the home-crowd favorite of Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello slotted into third with a 77.43% performance.

Though Helen was thrilled to win the €7,000 first prize, all this grand prix counts for in terms of the World Cup title is the starting order for Saturday’s freestyle to music.

Following the class, in which many usually well behaved horses were spooky, a formal protest was launched as the arena dressing of flowers had been much added to following the morning’s exercise in the main ring.

To keep up to date with the action from Gothenburg, follow @horseandhound on Twitter or read the full report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine.