Anky van Grunsven demonstrated she is back on top form with a resounding victory in the FEI World Cup dressage qualifier in Mechelen, Belgium recently.
The Dutch ace repeated last year’s victory with Gestion Salinero, who showed an improved way of going in a breathtaking performance of Anky’s new freestyle programme L’Esprit Chanson.
“It’s great to be back,” said Anky, “although it’s not an easy arena here as it is very busy. Salinero is inexperienced but he has already improved since Maastricht.”
The win brings Anky, the reigning Olympic and multiple World Cup champion, up to third place in the season’s rankings and on course for a place at the final in Dusseldorf (1-4 April).
Unfortunately it’s not all good news for Anky, whose sponsor, the Dutch financial services group Gestion, has decided to withdraw its sponsorship from dressage after the Athens Olympics.
Second place was taken by the comparatively inexperienced but talented partnership of Edward Gal and Gestion Lingh, also trained by Anky’s partner and trainer Sjef Janssen.
The sensitive Gestion Lingh impressed the crowds with his brilliant extended trot, which demonstrated increased trust and co-operation with his rider, despite the huge atmosphere and sell-out crowd.
With Antoinette Falandt in third place on Jarwo, followed by Sven
Rothenberger and Marlies van Baalen, Mechelen proved the place where the tide of Dutch fortune turned.
The team may have failed to come home with a European medal from Hickstead last year, but with Athens on the horizon, prospects for a strong Dutch contribution to the World Cup final prior to the Olympic are looking rosy.
There was also hope for the future for the home crowd as Belgium’s Jeroen Devroe turned in a promising performance for seventh place, behind top Swiss rider Christian Plaege. British contenders Wayne Channon and Lorenzo came 14th in the grand prix and the kur.
The next FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier takes place in Amsterdam at the end of January.