23rd March 2010 - World Cup Week
In two days the 2010 World Cup Finals will kick off in 's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. The show is the highlight event of the winter and heralds the coming of the outdoor season; something I'm looking forward to more than ever with this long, dreary cold winter depressing everyone in Europe this year.
Much publicity has been given to the 2010 World Cup Finals' line up. Some say that "not the best riders" are competing in Den Bosch because of the 3 per country rule, but I shrug my shoulders and think: Who cares?! How can you complain if you've got the Dutch top riders Edward Gal, Adelinde Cornelissen, and Imke Schellekens there? German Isabell Werth is working hard at her come back and Matthias Alexander Rath is climbing his way to the top. In Den Bosch Rath will be riding his second Grand Prix horse Triviant to a brand new freestyle composition. It will also be interesting to see the progress the Swedish Patrik Kittel and Tinne Vilhelmson have made with their younger GP horses. And Danish Nathalie Zu Saeyn-Wittgenstein is always a solid 70%+ scoring rider. There will be plenty of quality in Den Bosch, so no whining please!
And if you are not satisfied with the World Cup entry list, than you can still watch the CDI big tour classes which features Dutch Indoor Champion Jeannette Haazen, Gal on Sisther de Jeu, Marlies van Baalen with Ojay and Anky (probably with Salinero instead of Painted Black). Isabell Werth will be saddling her new super star El Santo NRW and Whisper, the horse that tested positive to doping in May 2009. Rath can be seen on Sterntaler, Koppelmann on her beauty Rom and Schulten-Baumer on the appealing River of Joy. Tons of young talented Grand Prix horses, which are now paving their way to become the next super stars, will be entering the Den Bosch arena.
A frown appeared on my face when I read a statement by Gerrit-Jan Swinkels, chair of the Den Bosch organizing committee, which was published by the Dutch Press Agency ANP. Swinkels claimed that World Cup title defender Steffen Peters will be absent from the 2010 World Cup Finals because "he is scared." Swinkels argued: "The Netherlands are supreme at the moment. I notice that the American title defender Steffen Peters is not even coming (to the Finals). He is scared to ride against Gal and Totilas. If he were to do so he would probably only finish fourth at the highest. Fortunately you see other top riders from abroad who are coming to compete. Isabell Werth from Germany is not afraid."
During the 2010 show season riders have only one major goal: the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, USA. The World Cup Finals are a very interesting side project on the road to Kentucky. If Peters were afraid of his competitors, he would never have flown to Europe to test himself at the 2009 CDIO Aachen against the Olympic gold and silver medallist of 2008.
The American WEG selection process is extremely strenuous on the horses with an ultimate two-week selection trial on the east coast (to which west coast based horses have to be flown). Steffen chooses to conserve the energy and freshness of his horse and peek in Kentucky. I'm sure Steffen won't be afraid of a confrontation with Totilas there! And don't you agree that Peters might be thinking on the long term? He probably wants to keep his horse healthy and happy for the years to come and prevent an urly burn-out or break-down?!
See you all in Den Bosch!