March 30, 2008

One of the highest standard fields ever is competing in the 23rd World Cup Final in 's-Hertogenbosch this weekend. A crowd of 6500 watched the hard fight between Isabell Werth and Anky van Grunsven for the win. The first blow is half the battle and in the first test Grand Prix on Thursday night Isabell Werth was the winner.

Isabell Werth riding Warum Nicht FRH at the 's-Hertogenbosch Grand Prix on Thursday.
© Dirk Caremans
Three judges saw Anky as the winner, two favoured Isabell as number one. Chairman of the judges Australian Mary Seefried made the biggest difference of 3% between the two. She explained: "We judges were a little split in the decisions. To me Isabell had the ability tonight to ask full power and that showed. She definitely was mistake free where as Anky had tiny mistakes and was missing the final halt. That is also punished in submissiveness."

Isabell Werth was really happy that her big chestnut Warum Nicht FRH was not spooky at all as he sometimes can be. "I was very pleased that Hannes was concentrated on the job. Only two or three times there were small hesitations because of the shadows on the ground", she said happily.

Anky van Grunsven had some mixed feelings. "IPS Salinero felt wonderful in the preparation arena, but in the test he sometimes was a little tensed. When I tried to relax him a bit before the extended canter, he made two trotting steps. At the other hand, his pirouettes felt splendid, just like his passage. I hope he is calmed down a bit Saturday."

Imke Schellekens-Bartels became third. The extensions of Hunter Douglas Sunrise were marvelous. However she also suffered from some tensed moments, Imke said. "Tonight it was a little noisy around. I trust my wonderful Freestyle music will help to relax him Saturday."

The best non-European result came from American Courtney King. Idocus, the 18 year old stallion of Christine McCarthy, showed himself in wonderful shape. Light and elegant, easy going, the pair were seventh. Courtney King competed in Europe last October and November, so she knew what to expect. Her compatriot Jane Hannigan competed for the first time in Europe and she was over the moon.

"This is an unbelievable venue and an unbelievable experience to me. I can't wait to tell everybody at home what they can learn from competing here", Jane said.

One of his best tests ever rode Central-European competitor Polish Michal Rapcewicz, scoring 67,667% and tenth position. "There is much more to come when the horse will slow down a bit in the arena and Michal will be able to let him go", his trainer Peter Spahn explained.

The decisive freestyle test takes place today.