Pantsu wasone of the favourites for an individual medal at the Olympics last year after finishing a close second to Pippa Funnell at Badminton in 2003. But the Finnish rider's chance was abruptly cut short when Karuso injured himself as he was being loaded into the horsebox for the flight to Athens.
Hughes has had a long struggle to overcome Duel's aversion to water. "I went all around the country to get him used to water,'' she said. "Then I took him to a nearby river and I just let him stand in the water so that he would realise it wouldn't hurt him.''
The breakthrough, she said, came last year. The 12-year-old jumped clear across country within the optimum time to complete his first four-star event at Luhmuhlen in Germany this year, finishing in 22nd place.
The World Cup Final takes place in a public park in the city of Malmo, so no work could be done on preparing the course until Friday of last week. Amazingly, everything is now in place and according to Pantsu, the going here is "perfect''. William Fox-Pitt, who rides Ballincoola, will be among those completing their dressage tests today. So will the local Swedish heroine, Linda Algotsson, who won both the previous finals when they were held at Pau in France.
Eventing World Cup Final: Standings after first day of dressage: 1 Ypaja Karuso (P Pantsu, Fin) 40.4 penalties; 2 Duel (B Hughes, GB) 49.8; 3 Weriusz (P Spisak, Pol) 50.0. Selected: 5 Sir Roselier (J Tew, GB) 50.7; 9 Rinte Van D (M Carey, GB) 53.3.