Mega showdown expected for World Cup dressage final

April 5, 2009

A showdown of Olympic proportions is set for this year's Dressage World Cup Final at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, as Anky Van Grunsven of The Netherlands and Isabell Werth of Germany head the list of 15 riders from eight countries set to compete.

The Rolex FEI World Cup Finals return to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, April 15-19. The Finals feature World Cup Finals in the two Olympic disciplines of show jumping and dressage.

Van Grunsven, the reigning Olympic, World, and World Cup Champion, is one of the most decorated riders in dressage history. She has won the World Cup final a record nine times, including last year, and also the individual Gold Medal at the last three Olympic Games (2000, 2004, 2008). She is also the reigning World Champion, having won that title at the last World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany in 2006.

Joining Van Grunsven in Las Vegas is her longtime rival, Isabell Werth of Germany. Werth has won the World Cup Final on two occasions - 1992 and 2007 in Las Vegas when van Grunsven was home in Holland after having just given birth.

The two rivals have traded places on the podium for years. Each has won eight Olympic medals. When Werth won gold in 1996, van Grunsven took silver. In 2000, the results were reversed, with van Grunsven winning gold. At the 2006 World Equestrian Games, Van Grunsven won gold in the Grand Prix Freestyle, where Werth won bronze, and Werth won gold in the Grand Prix Special, where van Grunsven won silver.

Looking to crack the van Grunsven-Werth hold on the World Cup championship will be 16 other riders including three Americans, led by Steffen Peters, who finished fourth in last year's Olympic Games in Hong Kong. He is joined by Jan Ebeling and Leslie Morse.

On Friday, April 17, the Las Vegas Dressage Showcase starts the ball rolling, as well as the official retirement ceremony for Brentina, the only US horse ever to win the Dressage World Cup Final. Friday will also feature the second round of the World Cup Jumping Final. Saturday, April 18 features the Las Vegas Jumping Grand Prix at noon. Dressage competition concludes on Saturday when a new World Cup Dressage Champion will be crowned following the Grand Prix Freestyle at 7pm. Show jumping concludes on Sunday, April 19 with the third round of the Rolex World Cup Show Jumping Final, and the determination of the next World Cup Champion.


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