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Pantsu gets off the mark in Poland
Strzegom, Poland
by Kate Green
The flying Finn and reigning world bronze medallist Piia Pantsu has got off the mark in the 2005-06 FEI Eventing World Cup series with a win at Eastern Europe's first qualifier, the Toyota Strzegom CIC***-W (POL).

A strong field of 33 riders from 10 nations started, many no doubt using Strzegom as a selection trial for the forthcoming FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen (GER).

It was a Scandinavian one-two throughout, but the home, Poland, side fielded third, fourth and fifth places, plus three out of the four cross-country rounds inside the optimum time.

Pantsu (FIN) and her Swedish warmblood stallion Ypaja Karuso, who were third in the 2005 FEI Eventing World Cup Final, led throughout, adding just 0.8 of a cross-country time penalty to their leading dressage score of 37.8.

Linda Algotsson (SWE), dual winner of the 2004 and 2005 FEI Eventing World Cup Finals, lay second throughout and finished on her dressage score with her family's home-bred Swedish warmblood Stand By Me, her 2003 European silver medallist and 2004 FEI Eventing World Cup winner.

Pawel Spisak (POL) rose from fifth after dressage on Weriusz to take third place; he was clear inside the time across country but added two show jumping rails to finish on a score of 50.7.

There were 25 clear rounds from the 27 who completed the cross-country phase, but the time proved influential and two more Polish riders benefited considerably from achieving the optimum.

Spisak's compatriots Jerzy Krukowski (POL), riding Donna Sara, and Julia Krzyzanowska, on Efez, finished fourth and fifth respectively after significant rises; they both achieved the optimum cross-country time as well. Krukowski had risen from equal 13th after dressage and Krzyzanowska from 22nd.

Andreas Dibowski finished best of a strong German contingent on FRH Lady Lemon in sixth (55.9). His other ride, FRH Little Lemon, was withdrawn after cross-country when in fourth place.

Karin Donckers (BEL) is slipped from third place after dressage on Lamicell Idem du Roc after accruing 16 cross-country time penalties, but a clear show jumping round pulled her back up to seventh.

The event began dramatically when a sudden windstorm struck Strzegom on the Wednesday afternoon. Eighty stables were demolished but, thanks to the hard work of the organisers and the help of the riders, these were repaired within hours. Three horses suffered minor injuries.

With only four more qualifiers left to run before the FEI Eventing World Cup Final at Malmö (SWE) on 21-24 September, the US-based Australian Phillip Dutton still heads the rankings on 170 points. Karin Donckers is second on 165 with her seventh place at Strzegom not counting.

The only other change to the top echelons is Piia Pantsu (FIN), who now slips into equal 11th place on 100 points.

The FEI World Cup action next moves to Kalispell, Montana (USA) on 6-9 July.

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