Thanks to the creation of the World CupTM, dressage has been able to be presented using a format accessible to the general public, the Grand Prix Freestyle: moments of sheer emotion watching these harmonious athletes performing piaffe, passage, pirouettes, or change of leg, during musical creations specially adapted to their pace.
Since 2010, Lyon has become one of the stages of the Dressage World CupTM circuit. In 2014, 22 years after the last French finals (in Bercy with the victory of Finland's Kyra Kyrklund and Matador), Lyon will be the setting of the REEM ACRA FEI WORLD CUPTM DRESSAGE FINAL.
Before the Dressage World Cup was created in 1985, this discipline was above all a matter for enthusiasts and the enlightened, the Germans and the Dutch! At that time, the Freestyle to Music test was somewhat scorned by purists. And yet it was the style of dressage that was the most popular with the public. The creation of the World Cup has progressively changed habits and allowed these Freestyle to Music tests to become renowned.
It was a Dutch man, Joep Bartels, a doctor of psychology, whose wife was a rider in the national team, as is his daughter, Imke, today, who succeeded in establishing this vision of dressage as part of the World Cup. He developed a similar concept to the Jumping World Cup, created six years before.
It was a true battle against a stronghold defended tooth and nail by the Germans who were amassing titles with the classic programmes. With the help of the creator of the Jumping World Cup, Max Ammann and the support of four international dressage judges, Joep Bartels founded the FEI World Cup™ Dressage in 1984. Volvo became involved in the adventure and in 1985 the first circuit was created, which ended with the victory of Denmark’s Anne-Grethe Jensen with the nimble Marzog.
Although the German greats of the period (Klimke and co) stayed away from these first editions, the disciplines’ big names were progressively featured on the World Cup's list of winners: Christine Stückelberger (Switzerland), Margit Otto-Crépin (France) and Kyra Kyrklund (Finland). Realising that the phenomenon of the Freestyle to Music test was an advantage for the popularity of their sport, the major German riders decided to embrace the movement with their leading horses such as Monica Theodorescu, today the trainer of the German team, who won the title in 1995 in Gothenburg with the Olympic champion Ganimedes.
The following year, a young Dutch rider dominated the circuit: a certain Anky van Grunsven who was making her debut internationally with the famous Bonfire. Anky went on to dominate Freestyle to Music tests at world level with Salinero, winning six World Cup titles and coming second twice. Her reign lasted until the advent of the new Dutch generation in 2009: Adelinde Cornelissen (Parzival) and above Edward Gal and Totilas.
Like for jumping, the finals of the Dressage World Cup circuit are exciting sporting occasions, in particular as the current duals between Adelinde Cornelissen with Parzival and Germany's Helen Langehanenberg with the elegant Damon Hill, are enthralling and fascinating. It should be the “main plot” of the scenario of the next final in Lyon, unless the British decide to come and take matters into their hands!
LIST OF WINNERS
2013 - 2014
1. Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), Valegro - 92.179
2. Helen Langehanenberg (GER), Damon Hill NRW - 87.339
3. Edward Gal (NED), Glock's Undercover - 83.696
2012 - 2013
1. Helen Langehanenberg (ALL), Damon Hill - 88,286
2. Adelinde Cornelissen (HOL), Jerich Parzival - 86,500
3. Edward Gal (HOL), Glock’s Undercover - 84,446
2011 - 2012
1. Adelinde Cornelissen (HOL)/Parzival - 80,957 pts
2. Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (DAN)/Digby - 76,854
3. Ulla Salzgeber (ALL) /Herzruf's Erbe - 76,231
2010 - 2011
1. Edward Gal(NED) / Moorlands Totilas - 89.800%
2. Adelinde Cornelissen (NED) / Jerich Parzival - 82.850%
3. Imke Schellekens-Bartels (NED) / Hunter Douglas Sunrise - 82.150%