FOLLOWING months of tense qualifying competitions held all over the globe, the world's top dressage riders are descending on the Swedish city of Gothenburg this week, where Ireland’s Judy Reynolds takes her place among an elite group of riders bidding for glory at the 2019 FEI World Cup Dressage Finals.
Reynolds (37) from Co Kildare and the Joe and Kathleen Reynolds-owned gelding Vancouver K have taken the dressage world by storm in recent years. A string of top class performances have seen them break Irish records on several occasions, and they have climbed to 21st on the latest FEI World Individual Dressage Rankings released today (Monday).
Despite missing some of the World Cup qualifying rounds at the start of the season, Reynolds and Vancouver K safely secured their place in the finals following another hugely impressive performance in the last qualifying round at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands on St Patrick’s weekend.
A total of 18 combinations from 12 countries are confirmed for this annual contest, with representatives from Belarus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, USA and Germany.
Reynolds is happy with how preparations have gone in the lead up to this weekend’s finals and said: “We have done all we can at this stage and we are ready. JP [Vancouver K] is in good form. We will be travelling pretty much all day on Tuesday. We will not do too much work on Wednesday – just getting him loose and then we will do some proper work on Thursday ahead of the Grand Prix on Friday. The draw at a World Cup Final is slightly different in that it depends somewhat on where you finish on the league table, so I know I will be in the first half of the draw for the first competition.”
Reynolds and Vancouver K finished eighth at the 2016 FEI Word Cup Final in Gothenburg and grabbed a hugely impressive fourth place finish at the 2017 Finals in Omaha (USA), however they face a tough challenge this week with an incredibly strong field assembled for the 2019 Finals, as Reynolds outlined: “This is a very tough year this year. It is definitely the strongest field that I have been involved with and more riders from the top 30 than ever before. There are a group of us that are very close together in our performances and it will come down to who goes better on the day without any mistakes. We are really looking forward to it.”
Vancouver K (17) is in the form of his life, having returned stronger than ever following a long spell out of the competition arena during 2018 and with their new “Riverdance” themed music going down a storm in recent months, the Irish combination will be looking for another big performance when the competition gets underway.
Demand for tickets for the World Cup Finals has been so high that the show organisers are providing a big-screen experience in the the adjoining Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre for those who can’t access a seat in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg on the deciding days. The draw for the starting order will take place this Wednesday evening, with the opening Grand Prix competition of the 2019 FEI World Cup Finals beginning at 12 noon Irish time on Friday.
All participants who finish Friday’s Grand Prix with a score of at least 60%, will go forward to Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle to Music (3pm start Irish time) which will decide who will be crowned 2019 FEI World Cup Dressage champions.