Something special happened Tuesday night. And something tragic almost happened in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
At the World Cup qualifier at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, Anky Van Grunsven, the Olympic, World and European freestyle Champion, presented her brand new freestyle composed by concert pianist Wibi Soerjadi.
Cavorting to the new “Dance of Devotion”, Anky and her IPS Salinero took the class by storm and the qualifier, her first this season, by a 7% margin; the kur earned a score of 83.050%.
“It was a great test – although not necessarily foot perfect – but Anky has definitely brought the sport to a higher level than ever before,” said British Olympic judge Stephen Clarke. “What Torvill and Dean did for skating, Anky has done for dressage”.
A few hours later, tragedy almost ended it for the Dutch dressage rider. Around 2 a.m., Anky’s truck, with IPS Salinero and IPS Painted Black inside, collided with a pre-existing accident scene on the highway near Dover, on their way back to Holland.
A smashed car, without lights, was disabled on the highway after a hit-and-run accident; its occupants were on the side of the road in fear that the car would be struck. Little could they know that they would be hit by a huge horse transport carrying two of the world’s most valuable horses.
Dutch van driver Jo van den Oetelaar could not have seen the car on the road before he hit it, according to Anky’s web site.
A local vet clinic took the two Grand Prix horses in, examined them, and kept them until another van could be sent from Holland. Willeke van Uden, Anky’s groom, remained with the horses the entire time. Although the van was damaged in the wreck and could not be driven, the horses apparently are not injured.
(top) Louise Klein’s photo (courtesy of www.anky.com) of Anky and Salinero performing the new kur shows how close the audience is to the arena at Olympia. (bottom) Anky’s backup van arrived home in Holland in time for an ice storm.