With three weeks left to go, the line-up for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Final is taking shape, with the full complement of 18 horse-and-rider combinations from eight nations confirmed.
Wild-cards have been issued and accepted, and competitors from the host nation of Sweden are expected to be joined by representatives from Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Canada and Norway when the action gets under way at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden on 24 April.
The two qualifying spots up for grabs at the FEI Central European League final in Zhashkiv, Ukraine, last weekend were claimed by Ukraine’s Inna Logutenkova and Russia’s Tatiana Dorofeeva. Logutenkova finished seventh, and Dorofeeva fourth at the end of the eight-leg Central European League qualifying series which saw Katsiaryna Varchenia and Sviatlana Loika from Belarus jointly topping the leaderboard.
Loika did not line out in Zhashkiv over the weekend, but Varchenia joined four others in the Grand Prix Kur won by Logutenkova and Stallone who scored 71.750. And when Dorofeeva posted 70.6000 with Khorovod, then Varchenia had to settle for the reserve qualifying spot with Redford whose mark of 69.675 was only good enough for third place.
This was no fluke result as 26 year old Logutenkova finished second with Stallone and third with Don Gregorius at Zhashkiv CDI-W last May while 48 year old Dorofeeva was victorious with Khorovod at CDI-W Moscow in September.
It was Canadian Olympian, David Marcus from Campbellville, Ontario, who won the FEI North American FEI World Cup Dressage league, but he has declined the opportunity to compete, and the regional qualifying places will now be taken up by fellow Canadians Jacqueline Brooks and Jaimey Irwin.
The North American places are decided on an average score system rather than on points, and, riding Chevri’s Capital, Marcus accumulated the highest average score ahead of Brooks and her 14 year old Swedish warmblood gelding D Niro.
Brooks got an early grounding in equestrianism while grooming for Canada’s Ashley Holzer at the Pan Am Games in Havana, Cuba in 1990 and is now a double-Olympian. She followed the London 2012 Olympic Games with training in Florida, USA under Holzer’s eagle eye and achieved good results over the winter months at Devon in Pennsylvania, USA, the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada and the Global showgrounds in Wellington, Florida.
Irwin also achieved good scores at Devon, Wellington and CDI-W Loxahatchee and will compete with the 16 year old Lindor’s Finest (Eastern Ruler x Viola), a Canadian warmblood whom he first got to ride last summer. The 35 year old athlete has trained with German coach, Holger Munstermann, throughout his career.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of Australia’s Lyndal Oatley sees no representative from the Pacific League. Oatley has pulled out on veterinary advice following a minor injury to her horse, Sandro Boy.
Her disappointment has opened up an extra starting place which has been awarded to Marlies van Baalen who will join Edward Gal and double defending champion Adelinde Cornelissen in flying the Dutch flag.
A total of 12 riders are now confirmed from the Western European League including Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg, Kristine Sprehe and Isabell Werth, Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven, Patrik Kittel and Minna Telde – the latter getting in on a wild-card – Denmark’s Anna Kasprzak and Danish counterpart and wild-card recipient, Sidsel Johansen, whose performances with Schianto have been a big hit with the crowds this season.
Italy will be represented by Valentina Truppa and Switzerland by Marcela Krinke Susmelj, while 2012 Norwegian Dressage Champion, Lillann Jebsen, has accepted a wild-card invitation. And the Canadian Federation has applied for a wild-card entry for Pia Fortmuller who will be next on the list should one become available.
The final takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden from 24-28 April.
FEI World Cup Dressage, the only worldwide series in this discipline, has entered its 28th season. The series, created in 1985, comprises four leagues: Western European, Central European, North American (including Canada) and Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Asia). Each FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier consists of a Grand Prix test, which in turn is a qualification for the Freestyle to music competition, where league points are accumulated towards places in the Final.