The result of this weekend’s final competition of the FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League, which takes place at Indoor Brabant, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, will decide which riders have won places at the 2004 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.
Competition is expected to be particularly fierce following the news that a further three riders from this league will be allowed to take part in the Dsseldorf final next week (April 1-4).
For fourth-placed Anky van Grunsven, Indoor Brabant is the scene of many triumphs as well as Bonfire’s retirement ceremony in 2001 after winning Olympic individual gold. Few would bet against her producing another top class performance here.
Anky is currently on 57 points, equal with Britain’s Emma Hindle (pictured), after winning two qualifiers and being placed second in the other on Salinero. If she wins at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, she could win the league.
After losing much of last year due to injury, Anky says she delighted to be back: “Indoor Brabant is ‘my show’ as it is so close to home, and I am very happy to be competing here again. For me, as my first ‘big thing’ after a long time and I am very excited about the final. It is very exciting this season with so many good horses and riders taking part – not only from Europe.”
Bonfire was going to give a demonstration at Indoor Brabant on Sunday, but this has been cancelled following a visit to a veterinary hospital with colic earlier this week. According to Anky, it was nothing serious and Bonfire has now returned home to recuperate.
Isabell Werth, in third place in the standings at present, is riding at ‘s-Hertogenbosch to ensure her place in the final ahead of compatriot Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff, who is currently in seventh.
The rules only allow three riders per nation to take part and German riders Heike Kemmer, the current league leader, and Hubertus Schmidt, in second place, are both sitting this one out.
Scandinavia is expected to have stronger showing at the final than in previous years, thanks to the extended number of riders forward from the league. Former titleholder Louise Nathhorst is in ninth spot and if all goes well for Danish dental student Nicole Ahlefeldt Laurvig-Lehn in this final qualifier, she should be riding in her first final in her first World Cup season, just days before her 25th birthday.
British hopes in the final qualifier will rest on the shoulders of Richard Davison and Wayne Channon, although the only British rider in line for a place in the final is German-based Emma Hindle, who is resting Wie Weltmeyer for the final.
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