Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival. © Dirk Caremans
The 29-year-old and the Dutch warmblood gelding by Jazz won three World Cup qualifying events and were shaping up as a hot favourite for the final.
Cornelissen, who turned professional only a year ago caused a huge stir when second to Sweden's Jan Brink in Falsterbo in 2007 and then rocked the dressage world again when runner-up to Germany's Isabell Werth at Aachen, Germany the following season on just her third international competition abroad. The Dutch Olympic team had already been chosen at that stage, so the blossoming partnership were named as reserves for Hong Kong last summer, but Adelinde had been hoping that she would get the chance to prove just how good they could be under the Las Vegas spotlights this week.
Horses and riders took the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the unusually-shaped Las Vegas ring today. Defending champion Anky Van Grunsven took her turn with IPS Painted Black and Poland's Michal Rapciewicz showed why he and his horse Randon won the Central European qualifying series. Steffen Peters and Ravel also impressed. "He's in really good shape for the last two weeks, he feels very supple and comfortable in himself and he produced one of the best performances of his life two weeks ago," Peters said.
"He's one of those horses that knows he can do it and wants to do it and I'm hoping we can hold onto what we have right now" the American rider said after coming out of the ring. "I want to be careful about making predictions though" he added, "I'll do my best, but with riders like Anky and Isabel you have to be realistic - it would be a really good result to finish in the top four in a competition at this level - although if you don't want to win then you shouldn't be here!" he added.
Swedish rider Jan Brink and German show jumping rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum assisted in the dressage competition draw. The Grand Prix is scheduled for tomorrow at noon.
The jumpers took their turn throughout the morning, playing around with the fences and preparing for their first big test which will take place tomorrow night. Last year's Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden was a real thriller and America's Rich Fellers presented an extraordinary challenge to the eventual winner, Germany's Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. In Las Vegas the stage is set for another battle of the giants.