Visit www.saddletude.com for virtual coverage of The World Cup dressage final, in association with Horse and Hound Online.
The World Cup Final in Vilhelmsborg, Denmark, goes ahead this weekend (6-8 April), but foot-and-mouth disease will certainly hit the show.
Many qualified riders have suffered from transport restrictions and it is currently unlikely that title-holder Anky van Grunsven, and the other Dutch riders, could participate – Holland is one of the four European countries with the disease.
Also affected is Anky’s pupil, Sonja Gademann, who has her horses at the same stable, and World Cup director Joep Bartels’ own family, as his daughter Imke had a chance of gaining one of the eight places for Western Europeans.
The favourite this year is undoubtedly Germany’s Olympic bronze medallist Ulla Salzgeber, unbeaten in her four qualifiers.
While her Sydney horse Rusty is resting, Ulla rides the Russian-bred Wall Street. This spectacular mover has shown reliable form, and can keep up with the top performers.
As she lives near Frankfurt, the runner-up in the rankings, Dutch rider Gonnelien Rothenberger, has no problems in travelling to Denmark. She will either ride Leonardo Da Vinci or Weyden, her husband Sven’s Olympic ride in 1996. The German professional Rudolf Zeilinger and Livijno won qualifiers in Amsterdam and Mechelen, while silver-medalist Isabell Werthshowed 15-year-old Antony in great form in Dortmund.
As the rules allow only three riders from one country, normally Karin Rehbein and Ellen-Schulten-Baumer would not go but “in this situation we might ask them to come”, says Joep Bartels. Jan Brinkfrom Sweden, Lars Pedersen from Denmark, Stephan Peters from Austria and Natalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein from Denmark have places. The latter would have achieved a wild card, which she does not need now, while Britain’s Richard Davison, currently ranked 17th, is trying to get permission to travel.
German-based Kristy Oatley Nist will take her place for Australia, as will Tom Noone (winner of the US league), Nancy MacLachlan (Canadian), Malgoratha Marszyty (Central European) Kiso Toshihihiko (Japanese)and Marietta Almasy (South American).
Visit www.worldcupdenmark.dk/gb for more information.