A WEG Without Anky? What Will the Dressage Champion's Role Be in Lexington?

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During an interview at the Falsterbo show in Sweden, Anky was happy to talk about her fashion business.

Fashion designer? Media celebrity? Horse show mom? Mentor? Equestrian icon? Reining protege?

She could be all those things, but one thing Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion dressage star Anky Van Grunsven of The Netherlands will not be this fall is a competitor. She announced last month that she will not be a candidate for the Dutch team that will compete at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September. She decided not to go through the team selection process after evaluating an injury to her top horse, Salinero. After two months, Salinero's withers are not fully healed from a stall incident, she said in her statement.

"Salinero's withers got injured after a trauma in his stall. He still needs at least one month of rest from now on. To be present at the WEG, it would take another three months to be back in full training," the statement read.

Anky's stallion I.P.S Painted Black is apparently not a consideration either. The stallion's results were varied over the last months and, in spite of recent successes like winning the Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix K??r at Falsterbo, Sweden this month, she indicated that he had had a slight injury this spring as well.

World Equestrian Games dressage without Anky is like the Tour de France without Lance Armstrong or a World Series without the Yankees. What many people may not know, however, is that the riders and horses who will compete for Holland have been, in most cases, trained and coached by Anky and her husband, Sjef Janssen, at some point in their careers.

"Anky thinks the chance to be in the first five positions is very small. Because of her withdrawal, Anky doesn't think the changes for the Dutch team are reduced. The other Dutch combinations have enough quality to be a qualitative complement to the ultimate team effort," were her official words, which were translated into English.

The information released by Anky last month is limited to her involvement in the Dutch dressage team. It does not, however, say whether Anky will try to make the Dutch reining team. There had been speculation that she would try to compete in both reining and dressage. Anky and her Quarter horse Whizashiningwalla BB have been competing in Europe successfully and there's always a chance of the unexpected when a competitive athlete and national hero like Anky Van Grunsven is concerned. Recently when the Cavalor equine feed company brought a tour group to Anky's training center, she gave a demonstration of reining instead of dressage!

In 2008 Anky Van Grunsven won both the World Cup and the Olympic gold medal. She was the first (and only) rider ever to win Olympic individual gold three times in row with two different horses (Bonfire 2000 and Salinero 2004 and 2008). She has won the FEI World Cup seven times. In 2006, she won the World Championship Dressage Freestyle at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

The Dutch dressage team, as of July 22, was slated to beEdward Gal, Hans Peter Minderhoud, Imke Schellekens Bartels and Adelinde Cornelissen. They are heavy favorites to win the gold medal.

And Anky? She's a heavy favorite to succeed at whatever she tries to do.