Hattrick Puts Anky at the Top of the Tree
A Christmas decoration falling to the floor behind them failed to disturb Keltec Salinero and Anky van Grunsven's concentration during their 83 per cent winning freestyle, but it had the audience on edge and they showed it. While the result was some tension in the ensuing canter work, van Grunsven was delighted that Salinero found it very easy to let go again. "It's a very positive step", she said, "and while the canter pirouettes could be better I was very satisfied with the walk and the zig-zag, which was better than in the grand prix."
Heavy snow and icy conditions did not freeze the enthusiasm of spectators and Mechelen attracted a capacity audience for the FEI World Cup Freestyle with tickets sold out 14 days in advance. "This is a very special show", said van Grunsven, who has won here on every visit. " Even when winning this is a difficult show as the spectators are very close and there is a lot of activity, but although I would not want it like this every time, it is really good practice." Dutch riders dominated and although his trainer widened the gap again, runner-up Edward Gal was very happy with Group 4 Securicor Lingh's freestyle. " He is going really well, and the piaffe and passage were very good" said Gal. "Lingh becomes more spectacular by himself to the music."
Imke Schellekens-Bartels showed Sunrise is a rising star with third place over team rider Laurens van Lieren. Her mother Tineke Bartels rode the now 11-year-old mare through to small tour but generously handed the reins to Imke when her daughter's former ride Lancet was sold. " She is fantastic and has a lot of potential" said a delighted Schellekens-Bartels. "She did not make a single mistake in the grand prix but today I was a bit nervous so there were some small things such as a hesitation in piaffe, but her extensions and half passes were really good." Their 'Last Night of the Proms' music is a hit with both the crowd and the judges it seems. " Our programme is not very difficult yet as she is not very experienced, but I can make it a higher degree. I would love to go to the Final, and I think we have a good chance" she added. The pair will now contest Neumuenster and Indoor Brabant.
The home side's rider Jeroen Devroe was a favourite with the crowd, and even their enthusiastic foot-stamping accompaniment did not stop the Belgian rider and Paganini performing their best freestyle to date for fifth place.
With just two remaining qualifiers to go, there is all to play for as the race to achieve places at the Amsterdam final hots up. With the pressure mounting as they all want to contest the Final on home ground, Dutch riders dominate the top of the points' standings with title-holder Anky van Grunsven back at the top of the tree with 60 points for three successive wins and four Dutch riders currently in the top eight. The next round takes place at Germany's Neumuenster show in February.
Scores 2005 CDI-W Mechelen
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