A former model who has recovered from life-threatening injuries to compete at the highest level is among those contesting the FEI World Cup dressage final next month.
Ellesse Tzingberg, the first rider to represent the Philippines at the competition, has also showjumped internationally but put this, her university degree and her modelling career on hold to concentrate on dressage.
She and the 18-year-old KWPN gelding Triviant 2 earned an FEI wild card to the final in Paris (11-15 April).
Ellesse, 26, was born in Malaysia, started riding aged four and was the highest-ranked under-14 dressage rider in her region by the age of 12. She also enjoyed showjumping success by the time she moved to the US at the age of 16.
In 2009, she suffered a “devastating” car crash, which “totalled her car and her physical ability”, but after months of extensive treatment and rehabilitation, which she underwent while earning her degree at the University of San Diego, Ellesse recovered.
She was scouted by a modelling agency in 2010 and worked for a Los Angeles firm, returning to the saddle initially for fun, but making the decision to move to Sweden to pursue her dressage career in 2014.
Her aims are now to compete at this summer’s World Equestrian Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as well as the World Cup final next month.
“After feeling what it was like to have almost everything I loved taken away from me, I want more than ever to be successful in this sport,” Ellesse said.
But as well as Isabell Werth, who is to defend her title on Weihegold OLD, the line-up includes a host of stellar names.
Rankings leader Patrik Kittel, of Sweden, the Netherlands’ Edward Gal and US rider Laura Graves will all be gunning for the title, not to mention Britain’s Emile Faurie, who squeezed into the final by taking the last qualifying spot.
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“It has been an amazing qualifying season filled with exciting newcomers, old favourites, big clashes and some magical moments,” said an FEI spokesman. “Now it’s down to the wire, with 18 horse-and-rider combinations from 13 countries chasing down the 2018 title. The 33rd FEI
World Cup dressage final is going to be a classic.”
And as Isabell said last summer: “It’s good for our sport that they are all trying to beat me. The harder they try, the better I have to be. Bring it on!”
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