This weekend should see Ireland’s Judy Reynolds secure a place at the 2018/2019 FEI Dressage World Cup final, which takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden in April. She lines out for the final European qualifier at the Dutch Masters meeting at ’s-Hertogenbosch and for Reynolds and her horse Vancouver K it’s just a question of holding on to what they currently have in their grasp.
Over the last two qualifiers in January and February, the Kildare rider broke her Irish international freestyle record twice. She doesn’t need to do so again this weekend (though she might) to claim a final place, as only a real off-day could spoil her chances now.
Although 12th in the points table, Reynolds is effectively ninth (three of the German riders above her cannot qualify because of the maximum of the three-per-country rule) and the top nine from this Western European division qualify.
Sweden’s Antonia Ramel would appear to be the only one with a chance of catching Reynolds, but a ‘normal’ day’s work from the Irish rider should prevent that happening.
Furthermore, Reynolds could well climb up another notch as she is within striking range of France’s Morgan Barbançon, who is not involved in this final leg.
It’s set to be a very competitive event, with German world number one Isabell Werth involved and other top German riders Helen Langehanenberg, Benjamin Werndl, and Dorothee Schnieder also competing. There will be huge home support for the Dutch, whose representatives include Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud.
The dressage Grand Prix takes place tomorrow evening, and the crucial points-scoring freestyle will be staged on Saturday afternoon. The Dutch Masters meeting also features a round of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which comprises four meetings, the other three being Aachen in Germany (August), Spruce Meadows in Canada (September) and CHI Geneva in Switzerland (December).
A rider who wins the Grand Prix at three consecutive Grand Slam events gets a €1m bonus, while winning two consecutive events carries a bonus of €500,000, and winning any two of the four nets €250,000 extra. The three-in-a-row has only been won once, clinched by British rider Scott Brash in 2015.
Germany’s Marcus Ehning won at Aachen last year and again at Geneva, scooping the ‘any two’ quarter-of-a-million euro bonus. As this is the first in the series since his Geneva win, he is the current contender for the three-in-a-row. He finished second in this event last year on Cornado NRW, only ousted by last rider Neils Bruynseels of Belgium who nabbed it on Gancia de Muze. Bertram Allen led in that jump-off with Gin Chin van het Lindenhof, and eventually took fourth.
Allen will again be the focus of Irish interest, bringing Christy JNR, Izzy by Picobello and Molly Malone to the meeting. Denis Lynch will also be in attendance with Caruso, Dito, and Pretty Little Liar. Allen rose seven places to 22nd in the latest world rankings released last week. Darragh Kenny is one notch higher, though he dropped from 20th the previous month. Shane Sweetnam is next in line of the Irish in 25th.
Daniel Coyle drops from 30th to 33rd, while Denis Lynch moves up two places to 34th. Conor Swail makes the climb of three slots to 35th and there is an upward move of one place for Shane Breen to 47th. Paul O’Shea (58th), Richie Moloney (64th), and Cameron Hanley (68th) complete the Irish presence in the top 100. Allen’s points put him on top of the world’s U25 riders’ table ahead of Dutchman Jos Verlooy with Coyle in third place.