February 17, 2015--With two more Reem Acra Dressage World Cup qualifiers for the final in Vegas left on both the East and West coasts, time is running short in terms of making the cut in the North American League.
Ironically, the placings at the top of the League belong to two Europeans, Lars Petersen (Marriett) and Mikala Munter Gundersen (My Lady), both Danish, while Kelly Layne (Udon P) of Australia is third.
Having a non-citizen of Canda or the U.S. qualify through competitions in North America is a tricky business, but it seems likely that Lars, who has dominated the freestyles at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival thus far, will make it to Las Vegas. The odds are against second-place Mikala getting an additional spot, such as the one that would go to Lars.
However, Janne Rumbough, My Lady's owner, said she would pay to have Mikala go on her horse as a test rider if one is required.
The highest-ranked Canadian at the moment is Karen Pavicic (Don Daiquiri) in fourth, while the top-ranked American is fifth-place Catherine Haddad Staller (Mane Stream Hotmail). But you can expect that to change because Steffen Peters -- who won the Vegas World Cup finals in 2009 on Ravel -- weighed in bigtime with Legolas in the World Cup qualifier at the Feb. 19-22 Burbank, Calif., show. Legolas, who showed tension competing in the Wellington 5-star in early February, was a different horse in California, scoring 80.825 percent for a personal best. Legolas and Steffen get another go at San Juan Capistrano March 19-22. If all goes well there, we'll see Steffen in the finals.
And U.S. coach Robert Dover has convinced the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games phenom, Laura Graves with Verdades, to make a run in Florida at qualifying for the Cup. Unlike the Western European League, which does its standing on points, the North American League is ranked by an average of percentages.
Sadly, our Dressage Today blogger Adrienne Lyle, won't be competing as we had hoped, because her mount, Wizard, is no longer showing. But he will be in Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center during the Cup finals for a retirement ceremony, and Parry Thomas (whose wife, Peggy, owns Brentina and Wizard) will be honored as well.
Thomas & Mack, as you may have figured out, is named in honor of Parry and his late partner, Jerry Mack. Parry is the banker who playing a major role in the development of Las Vegas.
Brentina had a retirement ceremony in 2009, the last time the dressage World Cup was held at Thomas & Mack, and it was an extremely emotional experience. You won't want to miss the final bow of Wizard, who took Adrienne to the 2012 Olympics and was part of the WEG team that finished fourth in Normandy last year.
In the Western European League, with only two more qualilfiers to go, Isabell Werth (Germany), Edward Gal (Netherlands) and Adelinde Cornelissen (Netherlands) all previous winners, are vying to get on a trans-Atlantic flight in April.
With only three riders from one country allowed to compete, Isabell (the winner of the 2007 finals in Vegas) has to stay in her niche of the moment as the third-ranked German, because the league is led by another German, Jessica von Bredow, and her compatriot, Fabienne Luktmeier, also is ahead of Isabell. In eighth place, as the fourth-ranked German, is Sonke Rothenberger.
However, while Ulla Salzgeber, another German and former World Cup champion, won Sunday's freestyle qualifier at Neuminster, Germany, on Herzruf's Erbe, she plans to point him for the European Championships this summer, rather than the World Cup Finals.
Disappointingly, even if Isabell makes the trip to Vegas, she won't be bringing her sensational WEG mount, Bella Rose, her candidate for the 2016 Olympics. She thinks it's too soon for the still-developing Bella Rose to compete in such an electric indoor atmosphere.
The Dutch contenders also include Danielle Heijkoop, who had to skip the WEG when her horse was injured. She is third in the overall standings, behind Jessice and Fabienne, and one slot ahead of her countryman, Hans Peter Minderhoud, who is tied for fourth with Isabell. Adelinde is 10th, one spot behind Edward, so the Dutch are in a race among themselves.
Stay tuned for more; in the case of the World Cup finals, it often comes down to the wire as who will get on that plane.
One entry you can be sure of is the world's best dressage horse and rider, Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin, the defending champion pairing who only had to compete in two qualifiers (no need to win, though) in order to make it to Vegas.