Current Olympic and World Cup Champion Anky van Grunsven (pictured) will head the Dutch dressage team for both Aachen and the Olympic Games. She will be riding Gestion Salinero, who has already proved to be an able replacement for her former Olympic ride, Bonfire.
Anky’s pupil, the newly crowned Dutch dressage champion Edward Gal, will ride Gestion Lingh in the team. Edward is currently in exceptional form, reigning supreme in every test he contested during the recent Dutch national championships and scoring top percentages in the grand prix, special and kur.
The strong Dutch challenge will also feature Antoinette Falandt, who has been producing impressive performances at international level with Jarwo during the past year.
Sven Rotherberger, Marlies van Baalen and Imke Schellekens were all in the frame for a place in the squad and Dutch chef d’equipe, Bert Rutten, chose Sven Rotherberger and Barclay II for the fourth and final team place.
This was bitterly disappointing for Schellekens, who has impressed the Dutch dressage world with top class performances with Gestion Lancet this season, including a win at CDI Rotterdam plus winning second and third at the Dutch championships.
Chef d’equipe Bert Rutten said he feels that Schellekens and Lancet were not yet experienced enough to cope with the pressure in Athens. “It’s just one year too early for them,” he told Eurodressage.com.
“I want to go to Aachen with the strongest Dutch team possible because there you’ll have the same judges as in Athens. If we don’t perform at our absolute best in Aachen, we can forget Athens.”
With many countries, including Britain, Germany and the US, using CHIO Aachen as a final pre-Olympic warm-up, the competition promises to be exceptionally tight.