Russian Inessa Merkulova and Belarusian Hana Karasiova qualified through the Central European League to compete at the 2018 World Cup Finals in Paris, France. The same two riders also topped the Central European League ranking in 2017 and went to the Finals in Omaha, U.S.A.
In the Central European League, riders qualify for the Final using a points system based on finishing places at the qualifying legs, and the two spots up for grabs went to Russia’s Inessa Merkulova (53) and Hanna Karasiova (33) from Belarus.
The 11-leg Central European series began in Minsk (BLR) last April where Russia’s Elena Shaivoroniskaya (Sandra) pipped Karasiova (Arlekino) and then moved on to Mariakalnok (HUN) where Spain’s Morgan Barbancon Mestre (Sir Donnerhall ll), Germany’s Banjamin Werndl (Der Hit) and Portugal’s Bonaventura Freire (Sai Baba Plus) filled the top three placings.
At Lipica (SLO), Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj (Smeyers Molberg), Austria’s Belinda Weinbauer (Sohnlein Brilliant MJ) and Italy’s Valentina Truppa (Ranieri) filled the top three steps of the podium and then it was on to Nizhnly Novgorod (RUS) in June where Merkulova (Avans) pipped Karasiova (Arlekino).
Later that month, Swedish star Patrik Kittel (Well Done de La Roche) claimed maximum points for his win in Brno (CZE) where Hungary’s Nikolett Szalai (Willy the Hit) finished second. Karasiova dominated at Taillinn (EST) in August where she steered Zodiak into pole position and Arlekino into third but it was Merkulova who stole the limelight in Moscow (RUS) in September when first with the fabulous Mister X and third with Avans, and following another win at the New Century venue in Moscow later that same month she cemented her position on the leaderboard.
Merkulova has competed at three FEI European Championships, four FEI World Equestrian Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She has also lined out at six FEI World Cup™ Dressage Finals, and with Mister X has posted top-10 finishes in the last four editions.
Estonia’s Dina Ellermann (Landy’s Akvarel) pipped Karasiova for the top spot in Taillinn in October and Denmark’s Malene Kohlschmidt Ebbesen (Mira) won the tenth leg in Zakrzow (POL) before Karasiova concluded her impressive campaign with a first and third placing at the final Freestyle in Moscow in December which earned her the second berth for this region at the Paris Final.
Top 10 - 2018 Central European League World Cup Standing
- 1. MERKULOVA, Inessa - RUS - 75
- 2. KARASIOVA, Hanna - BLR - 74
- 3. CHEREDNICHENKO, Stanislav - RUS - 62
- 4. TROSHENKOVA, Elizaveta - RUS - 53
- 5. IHUMENTSAVA, Volha - BLR - 48
- 6. ELLERMANN, Dina - EST - 43
- 7. KOVYRZINA, Olga - RUS - 39
- 8. SZALAI, Nikolett - HUN - 35
- 8. ÁCS, Róbert - HUN - 35
- 10. ZHAIVORONSKAYA, Elena - RUS - 27
Complete CEL final standing here.
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2017-2018 World Cup Show Season