Despite this not being her preferred surface, Sabrina got defending champion Marcus Ehning off to a good start posting a time of 63.79 in the traditional speed opener.
This was not quite good enough to win the €25,000 first prize because team-mate Marco Kutscher was slightly faster with Cash in 63.55.
He also took the lead from first-in Gerco Schroder, who stopped the clock in 65.12 with Eurocommerce New Orleans, ultimately in fourth. This was mainly due to making an excellent turn into Fence 9 which nearly everybody else then felt compelled to match.
For some, like Christian Ahlmann (Taloubet Z), it worked beautifully, slipping him into third spot, but for others, notably Edwina Alexander, it did not quite come off. The Australian rider survived the mistake there but then she and Cevo Socrates parted company after a similar mistake at the last. Although Alexander clung on long enough to get through the finish and post a score, she was subsequently eliminated because she did not ride Cevo Socrates out of the arena, the horse had made a run for it. Ireland's Denis Lynch was also eliminated for a fall from Abbervail van het Dingeshof at the second part of the double at Fence 7.
Frank Rothenburger's course produced 12 clear rounds overall but none was more exciting than New Zealand's Katie McVean. According to McVean, the always excited Delphi jumped the round of her life to leave the Kiwi rider 6th overall. "I am loving every minute so far. Whatever happens in the next couple of days this is a great experience for me and I am just delighted and amazed to be getting a prize at a World Cup Final," she said afterwards.
The results of this part of the contest often prove deceptive when the results are converted to points after the next round to give a total score.
Other clear rounds included Kevin Staut (9th on Silvana de Hus) Ashley Bond (8th on Cadett) and Richard Spooner on Cristallo. The fast four fault rounds include such luminary riders as Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum on her triple winner Shutterfly and Olympic champion Eric Lamaze, whose Hickstead was pronounced fit to compete after being asked to re-present at the vet check. He faulted at the fourth fence to be a little way off the pace after the first round.
Kutscher said he would ride Cash in the next round after his victory today. "I thought maybe I might use my other horse Allerdings tomorrow, but instead I'm going to rely on the experience of Cash," he said. He placed eighth with te same horse at the finals in Las Vegas, USA in both 2005 and 2007.
Points calculated from these two competitions will allow only the top two thirds through to Sunday's Grand Prix final, which will be held over two gruelling rounds. Only 15 will qualify for the second round, and the rider with the minimum number of accumulated faults at the end of the competition will be declared the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final champion.
• French rider Simon Delestre has confirmed that the sale of his champion speed mare, Orphee D'Illion, was down to the money offered by the connections of new rider Ahamed Hamcho.
"I will never have another speed horse like her but the owners were just offered too much money to turn down, but I am happy we have had such a good partnership. It will not be easy to find and then train another one like that," Delestre said.
1, Cash (Marco Kutscher) GER 64.55; 2, Sabrina (Marcus Ehning) GER 63.79; 3, Taloubet (Christian Ahlmann) GER 64.03; 4, Eurocommerce New Orleans (Gerco Schroder) NED 65.12; 5, Indigo (Margie Engle) USA 65.62; 6, Delphi (Katie McVean) NZL 65.67; 7, BMC Van Grunsven Simon (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 66.34; 8, Cadett 7 (Ashlee Bond) USA 66.44; 9, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA 67.01; 10, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) SWE 67.53; 11, Souvenir (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 67.93; 12, Cristallo (Richard Spooner) USA 68.56; 13, Casall la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 69.09; 14, Ulysse (Pius Schwizer) SUI 69.30; 15, Shutterfly (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) GER 70.15; 16, Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 71.02; 17, Hickstead (Eric Lamaze) CAN 71.56; 18, Danny Boy (Beezie Madden) USA 72.42; 19, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) POR 72.54; 20, Napoli du Ry (Simon Delestre) FRA 72.62; 21, Rothchild (McLain Ward) USA 72.99; 22, Flexible (Rich Fellers) USA 73.36; 23, Wisconsin (Sergio Alvarez Moya) ESP 73.57; 24, Uwwalon (Michelle Spadone) USA 73.67; 25, Rocketman 2 (Vladimir Beletsky) RUS 74.26; 26, G&C Quick Star (Pablo Barrios) VEN 75.05; 27, Tomba (Eduardo Menezes) BRA 75.13; 28, Regina Z (Harrie Smolders) NED 75.41; 29, Lucie (Lars Nieberg) GER 75.55; 30, Coupe de Coeur (Ludger Beerbaum) GER 75.71; 31, Seldana di Campalto (Abdullah Al Sharbatly) KSA 79.55; 32, Utopia (John Perez) COL 79.60; 33, Chico Z (Yuri Mansur Guerios) BRA 83.09; 34, Ballade van het Indihof (Brianne Goutal) USA 83.64; 35, Cinnamon (Tilt Kivisild) EST 83.97; 36, Wonderboy lll (Ahmad Saber Hamcho) SYR 87.90; 37, Tristan (Kirsten Coe) USA 90.12; 38, Athena (Charlie Jayne) USA 90.20; 39, Ulrike R (Gunnar Klettenberg) EST 93.30; 40, Leonard (Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez) MEX 97.17; 41, Snowyriver ll (Daisuke Kawaguchi) JPN 108.32; 42, Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) IRL and Cevo Socrates (Edwina Alexander) AUS Elim.