Jan Brink of Sweden and Bjorsells Briar 899 beat the favorites, Anky van Grunsven and Keltec Salinero, in the grand prix special in Aachen with 76.4%.
“My horse was feeling great yesterday so I knew there was something good happening. He was on my aids and forward without being tense,” said Brink, who was second with Briar at the European championships at Hickstead 2003, and third at the Europeans in Hagen this year.
The pair made no big mistakes and was relaxed throughout the program.
By contrast, Keltec Salinero was hot and not on form. After failing to halt on entry the pair proceeded erratically down the centreline to receive ones for this first movement.
Salinero was tense throughout, bucking into the canter transition from passage and gingerly completing the walk exercises. He was again restless in the final halt. Van Grunsven still finished on 70.96%, for 13th place and enough to see them through to the kur tomorrow.
Brink is philosophical about his chances against van Grunsven in the grand prix kur.
“I just have to think about my own riding, but we do have a good chance,” he said.
The three parts of Brink’s freestyle, which he debuted to success in Hagen, are all songs from the top of the Swedish charts. Brink is just over four percent ahead of van Grunsven going into the kur and more than one percent ahead of second placed Silvia Ikle of Switzerland.
None of the British team qualified for the grand prix special today. But Emma Hindle finished second in the intermediaire II consolation competition with Lancet 2. She was the only British rider to reach this stage.
“We lost some marks in the first halt, but the piaffe and passage were better here than in the grand prix,” said Hindle. “We had a misunderstanding in the rein-back but what was good was that he was trying to do what I wanted; it’s easy for them to misunderstand when you are doing halt and piaffe and then rein-back so close together.”
British-based Kyra Kyrklund of Finland, who trains Jan Brink, finished fourth today and is lying seventh overall riding the 10-year-old gelding Max.