Articles: Press Release
Anky van Grunsven and Keltec Salinero Win FEI World Cup Dressage Final
PHOTO CAPTION: Anky van Grunsven and Keltec Salinero. PHOTO CREDIT: Ken
Mary Hilton for Phelps Media Group, Inc., International
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
AMSTERDAM, NED - April 22, 2006 - Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands
riding Keltec Salinero scored 87.75% in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final
Grand Prix Freestyle to Music today clinching her victory in the 21st
annual FEI Dressage World Cup Final. The win in the Europahal at the RAI
Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, marks the eighth time van Grunsven
has won the World Cup and the third time she has won it with Gestion
Salinero. The packed house of 7,400 spectators stood appreciatively as
van Grunsven re-entered the brilliantly lit ring for the awards ceremony
and after she lofted the glittering silver trophy, she announced to the
crowd (in Dutch) that she wanted them to cheer and applaud only for the
horse because he had once again amazed her.
"To be honest, I liked the whole test," said van Grunsven. "So far it's
the best test he's done since I've had him. He was very, very relaxed
and still going wherever he had to go. I felt like it was very easy
today and that's what you want in a test, so I was very, very happy."
Isabell Werth of Germany and the Hannoverian gelding Warum Nicht FRH
scored 81.15% to earn second place. Jan Brink of Sweden aboard the
Swedish warmblood stallion Bjorsells Briar 899 notched 79.32% for third.
Only the top 12 riders from the 18 who competed in the Grand Prix on
Thursday qualified for today's FEI World Cup Dressage A-Final Grand Prix
Freestyle Kur to Music to determine the title. The other six competed
in the B-Final this morning with Laura Bechtolsheimer of Great Britain
aboard Douglas Dorsey topping that class.
All of the judges placed van Grunsven first in the kur and were tightly
in unison in their scoring for both the technical and artistic elements
of the ride. Officiating today were Mr. W. Ernes (NED) at E; Mr. G.
Rockwell (USA) at H; Mr. V. Truppa (ITA) at C; Mrs. K. Wust (GER) at M;
and Mrs. B. Buchler-Keller (SUI) at B.
President of the Ground Jury Truppa said that he told his colleagues who
were judging the World Cup in Amsterdam for the first time that the
atmosphere of a World Cup is "magic" and that this event lived up to
that description. He summed up the competition as "top sport."
Truppa noted that during van Grunsven's performance, "I got really moved
and I gave her a 10 for the music." Van Grunsven's orchestral
soundtrack included versions of some contemporary easy listening tunes
and was also soft and spare in some segments.
Van Grunsven, who has competed in 12 FEI Dressage World Cup Finals, won
aboard Salinero (first called Gestion Salinero and now Keltec Salinero)
previously in 2004 and 2005. (She also won with Bonfire in 1995, 1996,
1997, 1999, and 2000 - known as Gestion Bonfire for the last two wins.)
Keltec Salinero's transitions appeared flawless throughout and Van
Grunsven acknowledged they were nearly seamless and certainly a strong
point in his score. "I must say that I have this wonderful horse that is
just a great talent for all these things. He's amazing for me as well.
This morning he was nervous in the warm-up ring because the crowd was
there but when I rode him for the test he immediately felt really good.
I couldn't be happier and I don't know what could have been a weak point
Second placed Werth has been riding Warum Nicht FRH for three years, but
only for a year at the Grand Prix level. She created her own
choreography and described it as "very difficult." Werth explained,
"There are a lot of extensions and collections back-to-back and that's
very difficult and that makes all the difference." Her soundtrack
included Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and Pomp and Circumstance, which she
feels is music her horse "wears" well. Commenting on the challenge to
catch van Grunsven's score, Werth said. "I try my best. He's only 10 and
he grew up in such a good way. He's getting more and more steady and
relaxed. There's no question that the horse is a world-class horse. He
has to become more experienced, but the quality and potential is great
and so we'll see what happens."
Judge Rockwell said that Warum Nicht FRH is a "very exciting horse" and
that it was nice to see a rider "creeping up" on van Grunsven, and
compared it to the previous rivalry between Bonfire and Werth's Gigolo.
"He's beautiful and has expression. He has everything. He's dependable
and she's such a wonderful rider," Rockwell said. "He's so beautifully
trained and she gives him every opportunity to do the job."
Brink and his 15-year-old Grand Prix veteran Bjorsells Briar 899 placed
second over Werth in the Grand Prix, but the two reversed positions
today in the freestyle. "My feeling in the Grand Prix was that I had my
horse a little bit more in front of me and my leg," Brink explained. "He
was okay today as well, but I had some small mistakes because of that.
That has nothing to do with him; it has to do with how I warmed him up.
Maybe I should make him a little bit more [forward] in the beginning,
otherwise I was really in tune with the music."
Brink created his own choreography and teamed up with actress/singer
Helena Lindquist to create the soundtrack. He noted that he used the
final centerline as the finale of his ride. "It's a long, long passage
tour and he's really, really strong in that. Not many horses can stay
up in this quality - half-pass, passage, half-pass, passage, piaffe and
passage - for about one minute." He noted that it's risk placing this at
the end, but it's his horse's highlight "and with music I can really
make something out of it."
Edward Gal of The Netherlands, who is van Grunsven's student, entered
the World Cup Final ranked second in the Western European League and
second in the FEI/BCM Dressage Riders' World Ranking List (van Grunsven
was first in both) with the Dutch stallion Group 4 Lingh Securior, but
he finished a mistake-ridden Grand Prix on Thursday, scoring 71.917% for
sixth place. Today the pair rode to fourth place with a score of
The disappointing performances were due to a slight injury that went
undiscovered until after the Grand Prix. "When I went into the Grand
Prix there was nothing, then suddenly I felt in the first half-pass that
he was responding weird on my leg on my right side," Gal explained, "but
I didn't know what it was and I couldn't do anything and that's why he
cantered in the piaffe and there were mistakes in the ones and the
twos." After the test, Gal discovered there was a large swelling under
the girth that had been visibly swelling during the test he was told. A
veterinarian informed Gal that it was likely a "popped vein." The injury
was iced for the next two days and the swelling began to go down.
"Today it was not painful at all anymore," stated Gal, who had
considered withdrawing from the competition. Still he noted that the
injury was on his mind during the ride. "Mentally it was not good
because we had a bad preparation" and during the ride he was sensitive
to his horse's responses to the aids, still listening for signs of the
injury. The test improved as the ride progressed but Gal acknowledged,
"It was not as good as it can be." He laughed that he felt himself "go
white" when he entered the arena but as the test got better his color
came back. "Normally I really like to ride the cure, but I'm happy that
it's over now."
Judge Rockwell commented on Gal's performance, "Halfway through the test
he became wonderful. Three judges had him third." He noted that the
test "a bit shaky at the start" but then he started awarding 8s and 9s.
Another rider who had a bit of bad luck in the World Cup was 24-year-old
Laurens van Lieren of the Netherlands riding Hexagon's Ollright. The
pair placed fifth in the Grand Prix, but ended up seventh today.
Starting off with a lovely test, the pair incurred a big mistake in a
transition early in the test that was compounded when a loud crash
emitted from one of the VIP area balconies shortly after. The duo was
attempting a segment that included extended trot, to piaffe, a pirouette
and then extended trot back across the arena but the horse stopped in
the pirouette to gasps from the crowd.
"I started my canter pirouette. He was really good and balanced and I
perhaps wanted too much, but he did it because of the flashbulbs, that
was the direct cause," explained van Lieren. "Normally that is like a
piece of cake. His extensions are mega! His piaffe is really good." Van
Lieren said he quickly got himself back together again and started the
extended trot back when the crash resounded. "I was even more shocked
than my horse. I lost every kind of feeling, contact, I was paralyzed
and it took me too long to get that back," he noted. The rest of the
test went as planned and the judges rewarded it with a score of 75.30%.
"I must say I really, really owe it to my horse. I love him for it. He
has such a good mind," enthused van Lieren.
Judge Truppa noted that the crash of dropped dishes affected the duo but
"they didn't lose their concentration - that was very good. All my
colleagues didn't punish it that much." But Truppa added, "It was
USA rider Arlene 'Tuny' Page also endured a ride not up to her hopes,
earning a score of 69.65% and 12th place. She had exhibited the flashy
freestyle to classic American oldies rock'n'roll tunes only once before
- in the qualifier for the World Cup held last month in Florida. Almost
immediately after the entry halt, Page started a double canter pirouette
that went awry and the mistake took seconds for the pair to re-group.
The remainder of the test went smoothly, but they could not overcome the
"I had the mistake in the beginning and I quickly decided it needed to
become a single pirouette that put me a little ahead of the music," Page
explained. She adjusted her choreography in the next segment of moves
"and I felt like I got right back on track."
After a daunting beginning, mentally, Page said she felt "fine" but
added, "Was I disappointed? Of course. To not go over 70 in the
freestyle you want to shoot yourself, but for me, again, the goal here
was to introduce this horse to the international big sport. I did that
and I think I did a great job with that. I can't walk 10 feet without
having people stop me and ask about this horse and to compliment me on
him. We all know that you can go out there and make a whopping mistake
in the freestyle and you're cooked. What can I say? I'm really, really
proud. I'm taking home a sound horse that's learned a lot. I'm taking
home my family that's sucked it up for five weeks and been incredibly
happy to do it. That's been a really edifying thing here."
Page also noted that she was "tickled" by the fact that "this horse has
so much ahead of him. One thing I'm particularly proud of is this horse
never lost his confidence out there despite the fact that there were
some moments when we were not harmonious. He never lost confidence in
me." And though she hadn't seen her score sheet yet, Page enthused, "I
think he piaffed and passaged today for 9s."
Mariette Withages, speaking for the FEI, concluded about the 2006
edition of the FEI Dressage World Cup Final, "We should be very happy.
It was a great final, super atmosphere and done really well."
Launched in 1986, this prestigious event is the only annual worldwide
competition in the sport of dressage and was the first official dressage
to music competition.