With just three qualifiers to go before the Las Vegas Final in April, the FEI World Cup dressage spotlight turns on Germany this weekend. Neumunster hosts the seventh round of the season
where some familiar stars and new contenders will battle for those valuable qualifying points.
Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, who has led from the front the whole way and heads the standings on 65 points, is due to introduce her exciting 10-year old Oldenbuger stallion Sterntaler-Unicef to FEI World Cup competition this weekend.
Both riders who share equal fourth in the standings on 49 points - Holland's Sven Rothenberger and Denmark's Andreas Helgstrand - are due in Germany to shore up their Las Vegas challenges, as is sixth placed Lone Joergensen.
Edward Gal, who won so convincingly in Amsterdam with Lingh to claim seventh place in the standings at the moment, brings Gribaldi to Neumunster.
Having done two shows so far for 33 points, Hubertus Schmidt will be hoping to rise up the standings from fourteenth if Wansuela Suerte can do her best on home territory.
More heat from the German contingent is expected as Athens team gold medallist Martin Schaudt enters the mix with Weltall. Although Schaudt has yet to open his FEI World Cup account, he has figured in the line up at Neumunster for the past two years.
Pressure from outside will be increased by the presence of Jan Brink and Bjorsell's Briar. The Swedish pair placed third in Amsterdam in their first outing since Athens, and Brink said afterwards that in Neumunster he would decide whether to battle on and try for a ticket to Las Vegas or bow out and concentrate on the European Championships in July.
With just the top eight in the standings winning tickets to the Final, the other contenders will be watching with great interest too.
by Bernadette Faurie
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2004-2005 World Cup Finals