Tag Archives: Isabell Werth

Werth and Weihegold Are Awesome in Amsterdam

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold. (FEI/Digishots)

Defending series champions, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) and her magical mare Weihegold OLD, cruised to victory at the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED). The dynamic duo floated through their Freestyle test to post 88.540, almost a full percentage point more than their winning score at the third leg of the series on home ground in Stuttgart in November.

The capacity crowd packed into the RAI Arena included stars of many other sports along with Dutch royal family member Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno, who is a Board Member of the show organisation, Jumping Amsterdam. But it was the German Dressage queen who claimed centre stage when pinning the home side’s Edward Gal (47) with Glock’s Zonik into second, and her compatriot, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (31), into third with Unee BB.

“Weihe was really fantastic today. I can’t describe the feeling of this power and collection; she’s like a metronome – we can do whatever we want! The atmosphere in the arena was electric so I had to be careful because she was very hot. She produced really magnificent piaffe/passage, but I stopped breathing in the collected walk because she was SO ready for the canter!” — Isabell Werth GER (1st)

Last to go, she was chasing the super leading mark of 81.860 produced by Gal and his exciting young stallion who really settled to his job. “It’s five weeks since we finished third at Olympia (London) and there is a visible improvement,” said the man who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 2010 with the great Totilas. This was just the third Freestyle test for the 10-year-old Zonik. “He’s getting stronger and stronger and more motivated; suddenly we are making big steps forward and I have high hopes for him for the future!” he added.

As Werth rode into the arena, her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was just leaving after posting an impressive 81.195 with Unee BB who couldn’t take his eyes off Weihegold. “The older he gets the more powerful he gets – I think he’s going through a second youth; he certainly had plenty of extra energy today!” said von Bredow-Werndl of her 17-year-old stallion. And her result has moved her up to second place on the Western European League leaderboard behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who once again wowed the crowds with a great performance from Deja to finish fourth.

As title defender Werth doesn’t earn points at the qualifiers but must compete in at least two legs of the Western European League with the horse she intends to take to the Final in Paris in April and with two in the bag, and both winning ones, with Weihegold she is now turning her attention to her back-up ride, Emilio, who topped the line-up in Lyon in November. “Obviously Weihe is my first choice, but Emilio will go to the last two qualifiers in Gothenburg (SWE) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED),” she explained. She’s missing the next leg on home ground in Neumunster in three weeks’ time due to another commitment, but she has her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title clearly in her sights.

When asked how she is feeling ahead of the 2018 Final which will take place in the French capital from 10 to 15 April, she replied, “I’m happy but I never say I’m confident; that’s not my way. This is sport – you never know what’s going to happen so you always have to stay awake!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Unstoppable Isabell Werth Crowned 2017 Best Athlete at FEI Awards

Photo: Harry Allen (IRE), winner of the Longines Rising Star Award (centre), pictured with FEI President Ingmar de Vos (left) and Longines’ Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli (right) at the FEI Awards ceremony in Montevideo, Uruguay. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Montevideo (URU), 21 November 2017 – Isabell Werth (GER), one of equestrian sports most decorated champions, has once again stolen the show, receiving the Best Athlete Award at the ninth edition of the FEI Awards Gala 2017 presented by Longines at the KIBON Avanza in Montevideo (URU).

The German superstar (48) was unable to attend the ceremony but spoke to guests via video message, and Soenke Lauterbach, Secretary General of the German Federation, received the award on her behalf.

“To receive the best athlete award is really fantastic it makes me really proud, really happy to get this support from so many people and that they’re really behind me and they respect what we have done in the last months,” Isabell Werth said.

“2017 was just amazing; it was a really great year. It was all horses, I have to say! Of course the highlight was Omaha with the World Cup final with Weihe; it was a fantastic freestyle!”

To the delight of the Montevideo audience, the festivities were opened by Swedish pop artists Matilda Frommegård and Martin Cederlöf, performing the world premiere of their “Two Hearts” song.

Joint-Masters of Ceremonies, TV news anchor Victoria Rodriguez (URU) together with author and entertainer Guillermo Lockhart (URU), host of Voces Anonimas, went on to present the winners of the five categories, in front of more than 270 distinguished guests, including top sporting legends, equestrian fans, FEI partners and stakeholders representing the member Federations.

Harry Allen (IRL), double gold medallist at the FEI European Pony Championships in Kaposvar (HUN) last August, was recognised for his numerous outstanding performances throughout the year, winning the Longines Rising Star Award. Presented by the FEI’s top partner Longines, this award celebrates youth, talent, determination and the stars of the tomorrow. The talented Irish athlete (16) was also presented with a Longines Conquest Classic Chronograph watch by Longines’ Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli.

Alan Davies (GBR), recognised for his tireless effort behind the scenes for Dressage stars Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, was presented with the FEI Best Groom Award.  Praising the unsung heroes of the sport, Alan (48) was visibly moved by the public support for his dedication, commitment and hard work, saying, “Words can’t describe how I feel; it’s just amazing!”

The former Vice President of the Indian Equestrian Federation, Manoj Jalan, accepted the FEI Solidarity Award for the inaugural Retraining of Racehorses (ROR) project in Assam (IND).

Emma Booth (AUS) was commended for her strength, resilience, determination and drive as she was presented with the Against All Odds Award. Emma (26) was left paralysed after a road traffic accident in April 2013, yet nothing stops her passion for equestrian sport and is already planning her campaign around the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“We received over 100,000 votes and were overwhelmed with the response to this year’s Awards,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “We have incredible athletes, with remarkable stories, and this year we had the highest number of nominations from more countries than ever before, which clearly shows the universality of our sport.

“The public involvement in the voting process was phenomenal and was an essential part of the judging process for these prestigious awards. It is outstanding to see the tremendous support for our athletes, who deserve the recognition, not just from within our community but of the wider sports industry and fans globally.”

Longines’ Vice President and Head of International Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli, said: “It is my great pleasure to be here in Montevideo and to be a part of the FEI Awards Ceremony to reward remarkable people for their outstanding dedication to equestrian sports. As we have seen here tonight, all winners have shown what hard work and passion are all about.

“On behalf of Longines, I would like to address my warmest congratulations to all winners of the 2017 FEI Awards, and in particular our Longines Rising Star, the 16-year-old talented jumping rider, Harry Allen. It’s very exciting to see all these incredible people pursue their dreams and continue to be great ambassadors for their sport.”

Media contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Werth and Weihegold Head Home-Side Whitewash at Stuttgart

Photo: Isabell Werth and Weihegold FRH. (FEI/Cara Grimshaw)

With style, panache and the greatest of ease, defending series champions Isabell Werth (48) and her wonderful 12-year-old mare Weihegold cruised to victory at the third leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League on home ground in Stuttgart, Germany. And in a feast of fabulous performances it was fellow-countrywomen Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr.) and Helen Langehanenberg (Damsey FRH) who slotted into second and third places.

Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (Paridon Magi) finished fourth, but only fractionally ahead of Germany’s Fabienne Lutkemeier (Fabregaz) and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Zaire-E) in fifth and sixth spots. There was nothing fractional about Werth’s win, however, her score of 87.575 percent leaving her well ahead of Schneider who posted 82.805. And it was a particularly satisfying result for the phenomenal athlete who this year alone claimed her third FEI World Cup™ Dressage title along with triple-gold at the FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE).

“Weihe has had such a great year, and after Gothenburg we gave her a long break but we thought it would be lovely to bring her to Stuttgart for the home crowd to see her and it was really nice. She’s only been working lightly for the last few weeks so we didn’t take the full risk like we did in Aachen or Gothenburg this summer, but I’m very happy with how she went; it was a great day!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The Freestyle test wasn’t perfect – “the mistake in the two-tempis was all mine!” Werth admitted, but it was still nothing short of spectacular. Taking “the full risk” in Dressage terms means chasing down marks by challenging the horse to produce each movement to the maximum, although when it doesn’t come off it can prove expensive. The fluency of Werth’s work with Weihegold was so exquisite, however, that even an error couldn’t prevent their absolute supremacy.

Schneider’s 11-year-old stallion Sammy Davis Jr. continues to impress in his first season at Grand Prix level and this pair posted some massive artistic scores, while Langehanenberg’s 15-year-old stallion Damsey FRH produced breath-taking extended trot on his way to earning a score of 79.615 for third place. “He was super-fresh but really happy to be out competing and really keen to perform. He really came to life in his test and it’s great for an older horse like him to be still enjoying competition so much!” said the 2013 FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion.

Werth doesn’t earn points in the Western European League series and only has to line out in the qualifiers with whichever horse she chooses to defend her title at the 2018 Final in Paris, France next April. She has three to choose from, Don Johnson taking runner-up spot at the opening qualifier in Herning, Denmark last month before Emilio came out on top in Lyon two weeks ago, and then Weihegold followed suit. She’s spoiled for choice, and her next outing will be at the sixth leg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in January.

Before that, however, the rest of those chasing down a much-coveted place at the Final will be battling it out in round four at Salzburg (AUT) and the fifth qualifier at London Olympia (GBR) in December. Sweden’s Patrik Kittel continues to top the league table by a considerable margin ahead of Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke Susmelj in second place, Spain’s Morgan Barbancon Mestre in third and Germany’s Dorothee Schneider who has moved up from 13th to fourth spot thanks to her runner-up finish.

Watch Isabell Werth and Weihegold take the win in front of the home crowd here on YouTube.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Werth and Emilio Are Sublime at Second Leg in Lyon

Photo: Isabell Werth and Emilio. (FEI/Christophe Tanière)

Where sport meets entertainment is where you find the world’s best Dressage riders and those two planets collided to explosive effect at the second leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Lyon, France, where reigning champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth (47), came out on top. In a competition that built to a thrilling climax, it was Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat who finished second ahead of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel in third while Werth’s compatriot, Dorothee Schneider, lined up fourth.

Werth had to settle for runner-up spot with Don Johnson at the first leg in Denmark two weeks ago, but partnering the 11-year-old gelding Emilio, she threw down an unbeatable mark of 86.115 percent when fifth-last to go of 15 starters from eight different countries.

“This was a personal-best score with Emilio and I’m so happy because he worked so well; he was really relaxed but with so much power that he gave me goosebumps!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

From the moment they danced into the arena the German duo had the audience completely spellbound. To a gloriously classical musical score they demonstrated dramatic changes of rhythm and pace, and it was captivating from the very start to the perfect final halt. It was no surprise when they were awarded three artistic scores over 90 percent including 92.800 from Judge at E, Vincenzo Truppa from Italy. All five members of the Ground Jury were in agreement as they put them in pole position, and as they left the arena the spectators rose to their feet to salute the lady whose medal-winning record in equestrian sport is second to none. But the excitement was far from over.

Ferrer-Salat’s Delgado put 82.630 on the board as the four-time Olympian and 2015 European silver medallist showed that her 16-year-old horse is coming right back on form after the injury-break that followed the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. And then Kittel set the arena alight with one of his trademark electrifying rides. This ultimate showman and his Olympic partner, the 13-year-old mare Deja, simply swung to the funky sounds of Stevie Wonder, all but willing the crowd to sing and clap to the strains of “Isn’t She Lovely,” because Deja most certainly is. The wait for the judges’ marks was a tense one, but 81.555 wouldn’t threaten Werth’s domination and when fellow-German Dorothee Schneider and the elegant Sammy Davis Jr posted 80.315 for fourth place, it was a done deal.

Werth was delighted with Emilio. “He has become so much more confident; even in the warm-up he was focused and concentrated; he’s becoming more professional and improving all the time,” she said. And now she plans to bring out her top ride, the brilliant mare Weihegold, who helped her take the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Dressage title last March and triple-gold at the Longines FEI European Championships this summer, to the next leg of the Western European League which will take place on home turf in Stuttgart, Germany in two weeks’ time. Following that she will compete in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in January and she intends to campaign all three of her horses ahead of the series Final in Paris, France next April even though she is automatically qualified as defending champion.

Kittel, meanwhile, is sitting pretty at the top of the league table going into the next round with 54 points, a whopping 23 points ahead of second-placed Marcela Krinke Susmelj from Switzerland who finished seventh with Smeyers Molberg. “I’m over the moon about being so far ahead!” Kittel said. “And my goal is definitely Paris – it’s going to be awesome,” he added.

Media contact:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Werth Wins Ferocious Battle for Dressage Freestyle Gold

L to R: Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), Isabell Werth GER (gold), Cathrine Dufour DEN (bronze). (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Isabell Werth (45) secured her third Dressage gold medal of the week when topping the individual Freestyle at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. But she had to pull out all the stops to pin German team-mate Sonke Rothenberger (22) into silver medal position while, mirroring the result of the Grand Prix Special, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (25) took bronze.

Multi-medalled Werth was under no illusions about the quality of the performance she needed to produce.

“We all pushed each other today. When I went in, both Weihe and I knew there was no little mini-mistake allowed, and that made it very exciting!” — Isabell Werth GER

That’s because Rothenberger is on the rise, producing stunning rides from his 10-year-old gelding Cosmo all week, joining Werth to take team gold, and then chasing her home in the Grand Prix Special to finish just over a mark behind. Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen produced the first over-80% score with the stunning stallion Dante Weltino before Britain’s Carl Hester and Nip Tuck fractionally improved on that to change the lead. But when Dufour, third-last to go, posted 84.560 with Atterupgaards Cassidy, the real battle commenced.

Rothenberger is a young man on a mission, oozing confidence and pizazz. Mastering the most difficult movements with the greatest of ease, he marched down the final centreline to throw down a massive score of 90.614 which really put it up to his compatriot.

But Werth thrives under pressure, and she had her game face on as her Freestyle music began. Weihegold listened to her all the way, producing a flawless performance that the crowd really enjoyed. But the tension on the German rider’s face as she waited for her mark to light up the scoreboard said it all. She knew it was going to be dangerously close.

“I was really hoping it would be good enough because Weihe was a good as she could be; it was her best test so I was happy and hoping it would be enough – and it was!” she said, having edged ahead by just 0.368 marks. In fact all three medallists produced personal-best Freestyle scores.

Werth, who also steered Weihegold to victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Omaha (USA) in April, couldn’t hold back the tears on the medal podium. “I was full of adrenaline when I went in to ride, so it’s a mixture of all the emotions you have during the week – I’m really grateful and thankful for what this week has brought me,” said the lady who has experienced more golden moments in her extraordinary career than any other athlete in the history of equestrian sport.

Rothenberger looks like a real threat to her supremacy, however. Holding his silver medal he said with a smile, “If you look closely, it’s silver with a golden edge!” — Sonke Rothenberger GER

However, Werth remains the queen of all she surveys, her latest golden haul still just another good week at the office. It’s exactly 10 years since she first took European Freestyle gold at La Mandria (ITA). That was with another of her super-star rides and, looking at her final medal of the week, she said, “Satchmo would be proud!”

Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), talking about his attitude to competition and his horse, Cosmo: “I don’t go into a test thinking of what others can do and then try to be better. I go into the test trying to show in the ring everything we practice outside and today was really a day where we made a plan and we trained outside in the warm-up, and today was a day when he gave me back exactly what I was asking for and that’s just what I do it for. He is a character of a horse and I just love him the way he is; he has this shiny edge and with his ears to the front he does the most difficult movement and I get goosebumps every time!”

Replying to a question about the Dutch connection in his family: “Maybe there’s a slight touch of orange to this medal!”

Cathrine Dufour DEN (bronze): “Cassidy was more calm today he really did everything he could, and I knew I had to be no 1 when I left the arena because I knew these two were coming. So I was really happy when I saw my score at the bit-check, and I knew these two would really ride for their lives and I’m very very happy!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Double-Gold for Werth and Weihegold as They Win Dressage Grand Prix Special

Photo: Germany’s Sonke Rothenberger (silver) and Isabell Werth (gold), along with Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (bronze) (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Germany’s Isabell Werth (45) and her lovely mare Weihegold waltzed their way to gold in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. But the doyenne of world Dressage was chased to the line by compatriot, Sonke Rothenberger (22), who joined her on the top step of the team podium, while Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (25) produced a brilliant performance to claim bronze.

This was Werth’s third FEI European Championships Grand Prix Special title, her first claimed with Gigolo when the Special was introduced at Donaueschingen (GER) in 1991 and the next three years later in Lipica (SLO). Team-mate Rothenberger joked afterwards that his age combined with Dufour’s matched Werth’s, but youth had to wait for its day once again as the most medalled athlete in the history of international equestrian sport reigned supreme once more.

“Weihe is in the best form ever! It was a clear test without mistakes and with a lot of precision, so I’m completely happy. For me the challenge was to take enough risk but not too much because I knew the rest behind me want to make me angry!” — Isabell Werth GER

Weihe translates from German as “ordains”, and so far this week that is exactly what the super mare and her extraordinary rider have done, dictating the destination of team gold with the only over-80% score two days ago and putting the biggest mark of 82.613 on the board. But Rothenberger took silver with 82.479 and looks a serious future threat. “I watch the best riders and I steal with my eyes!” he said earlier in the week. It looks like it won’t be long before he’ll be stealing their limelight too. He’s confident and ambitious, and rightly so.

“I know my horse (Cosmo) can do it, and I never doubted from the first day I sat on him that he could beat anybody if things work out the way I would want, but it’s always a different story to bring it on the day, which is what Isabell is so good at… doing it on the day, on the spot when you need it and that’s what we try to work on, and that’s what we train for every day. We are getting closer and closer, but we are not quite there yet!” — Sonke Rothenberger GER

Dufour, meanwhile, is also in sparkling form with the 14-year-old Atterupgaards Cassidy who has been with her through “a journey from Juniors seven years ago”. Posting 79.762 she pinned Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (34) into fourth with the stallion Dante Weltino, who like Rothenberger’s Cosmo is an exceptional talent at just 10 years old, and who earned a mark of 78.585 for an exquisitely elegant test.

Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), talking about talking about his family and his relationship with his horse: “We can’t think of a life without horses! I always thought when you have a jumping horse and you jump a 1.60m obstacle you get goosebumps and the feeling of being on a roller-coaster that you can’t have that on a dressage horse – until I sat on Cosmo, and then I realised he gives me that feeling as well!”

Francis Verbeek van Rooy (NED), Judge at C: “It’s very exciting; the other two (Rothenberger and Dufour) are so young and they are the future of our sport – there are now so many young people on top level world-wide.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Wonderful Werth and Weihegold Take World Cup Dressage Title by Storm

Jubilation on the podium as Isabell Werth celebrates her win. (Jim Hollander/FEI)

When she’s got her game face on, you ain’t messin’ with this lady. But the sometimes seriously scary world no. 1, Germany’s Isabell Werth, really let her hair down during the prizegiving ceremony after clinching her third FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in Omaha (USA). Drenching American runner-up Laura Graves (29) and third-placed British star Carl Hester (49) in a fountain of champagne, she celebrated big-time on the podium.

“It’s special to win again after ten years, to come back with a different kind of horse and after a really great season. I’m very happy and I’m also thankful, because I know what it’s like to be downstairs, and I’m really happy and grateful to be upstairs again!”

Werth has indeed experienced all the highs and lows that accompany a long and extraordinarily successful career.

The undisputed doyenne of the sport, and the most decorated equestrian athlete of all time, was last into the arena and chasing Graves’ target score of 85.307 with Verdades. The American created a frenzy of excitement when finishing her test with a spine-tingling extended trot – “I wanted to add a little surprise today and I think it paid off, and the crowd loved it!” she said after raising the roof of the Centurylink Centre.

But Werth and the mare with which she claimed Olympic team gold and individual silver at the Rio Olympics just cruised through a fabulous Freestyle full of grace, poise and elegance for the winning mark of 90.704. Hester too was happy with third place. “I think he gave his maximum so I can’t be disappointed when he did his absolute best,” he said of his horse Nip Tuck who scored 83.757.

Isabell Werth GER – 1st, talking about the performance of her horse Weihegold: “I knew her day could be today, and Laura pushed me to show what we could do. I’m so happy! Tonight we’ll definitely have a party!”

Laura Graves USA – 2nd: “I didn’t realise how badly I wanted to win. I said on Thursday I’d give it a run for the money, and today I thought ‘Oh I want that so badly,’ but finishing second to the no. 1 in the world still feels a lot like winning. This is my first time on a podium as an individual and that was very special. I won’t forget it; that’s for sure!”

Carl Hester GBR – 3rd: “Nip Tuck is so thin because he hasn’t eaten for a week. He’s really missing Valegro who he’d normally be travelling with, and when he’s not there he frets. He has no-one to grab hold of but he’ll have to get used to it. He’s been eating hay at least, but you need some petrol to do these competitions. Alan (his groom) has had to hand-feed him for the last few days.”

By Louise Parkes

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations & Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

At Omaha:

Marty Bauman
marty@classic-communications.com
+1 508-698-6810

Queen Isabell Reigns Supreme in Dressage Grand Prix

Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old (Cara Grimshaw/FEI)

She’s 47 and formidable, an exquisite horsewoman and a long-time legend as the most medalled athlete in her sport. Despite a few glitches in her performance with the fabulous mare Weihegold, Germany’s Isabell Werth won the opening Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Omaha, Nebraska by a comfortable 2.5 mark margin when scoring 82.300.

“I’m completely happy, but I’ll have to calm my horse down before Saturday because she got so excited in the prizegiving!”

Werth includes five Olympic and three World team golds amongst the massive medal haul she has accumulated during her amazing career. She also has two FEI World Cup™ titles under her belt, the first collected 25 years ago in Gothenburg (SWE) and the next in Las Vegas (USA) in 2007, and she’s hungry for a third.

But it isn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park because the home side’s Laura Graves (29) was breathing right down her neck when posting the runner-up score of 79.800 with Verdades, and is bidding to become only the third American ever to take this prestigious title.

“I think anything is possible!” Graves replied confidently when asked if she thought she could beat Werth in Saturday’s medal-deciding Freestyle to Music competition, and she has to be taken seriously after finishing fourth at the Rio Olympics with this horse who was so difficult as a youngster that she almost gave up on him.

Britain’s Carl Hester (49) finished third with Nip Tuck and will be another strong challenger on Saturday. New Zealand’s Wendi Williamson and Dejavu MH were eliminated when blood was found in the horse’s mouth post competition and Hanna Karasiova (BLR) and Arlekino failed to make the 60% cut-off mark.

FULL RESULTS can be viewed here.

Isabell Werth GER – 1st: “I was well prepared but you never know what to expect! It was my fault we made mistakes in the two-tempis but I always felt safe. It wasn’t easy at the start of my test though because the crowd went crazy when they announced Laura’s score!”

Laura Graves USA – 2nd: “I came here to win, and to finish second to Isabell today feels a lot like winning! It’s my second World Cup Final; we competed in Las Vegas (in 2015) and this has proved how much my horse has developed over the last two years. He felt very honest and I’m very excited about competing on Saturday!”

Carl Hester GBR – 3rd: “I always give my horse an easy ride in the Grand Prix so that he’s perfectly rideable for Saturday. I don’t expect to be too far behind on Saturday.”

By Louise Parkes

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations & Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

At Omaha:

Marty Bauman
marty@classic-communications.com
+1 508-698-6810

Isabell and the Horse That Nearly Went to Heaven Win in Gothenburg

Isabell Werth and Emilio. (Stefan Lafrentz/FEI)

Gothenburg (SWE), 24 February 2017 – He was once so frightened and unmanageable that no one could get on him as a young horse. But in the hands of one of the most celebrated equestrian athletes of all time, the 11-year-old gelding Emilio gave Germany’s Isabell Werth her fifth victory in the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017 Western European League qualifier at Gothenburg in Sweden. Her score of 84.200 put her well ahead of Swedish runners-up Patrik Kittel and Delaunay (80.910) while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB (80.845) slotted into third.

Werth (47) only had a two-day turnaround after winning the previous leg of the series with Don Johnson at Neumunster (GER). “So I asked my rider at home to prepare Emilio in the right way – and I think she did that!” she said after her Grand Prix success. However, she said the horse lost a bit of confidence in the Freestyle. “I realise now that he needs more training because he didn’t always know what to do and we had two mistakes, in the pirouette and tempi changes,” she explained. However, that has just inspired her ahead of the last qualifying leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) where she will again compete Emilio in two weeks’ time. “I’m really excited about going there now,” said Werth who holds an unassailable lead at the top of the league table.

Her preferred ride for the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) next month is her Olympic mare Weihegold, but she now considers Emilio a strong reserve. Werth’s perseverance with this horse is really paying off. “He has great potential; already his piaffe and passage are fantastic!” she said.

Talking about the erratic behaviour that left Emilio with something of a reputation in his early years, she explained, “It was as if he could see something out of the corner of his eye when you tried to get in the saddle; he was terrified and would go crazy.” There seemed no future for a horse with such a dangerous and debilitating level of inexplicable fear. “He nearly went to heaven,” Werth said of the gelding for whom she now has very high hopes.

“Emilio was lucky to come to Isabell; not all horses find the right people!” said Kittel (40), who was thrilled with his result with the ever-improving Delaunay. The Swedish star has now moved up to ninth place on the league table from which the top nine will qualify for the Final. He won’t be travelling, however; “it was never in my plan,” he said, but von Bredow-Werndl (31), who holds sixth place, certainly will. She has the next few months carefully mapped out. “I will go to Omaha, then do two more shows and then I take a break,” said the rider whose is expecting her first baby in August.

Detailed result here

Quotes:

Isabell Werth GER (1st): “For Omaha (FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017 Final) Weihegold is my first choice and Emilio is my second choice, but there is no need to put pressure on him (Emilio) so we will see how it works out.”

Patrik Kittel SWE (2nd): “I’m not going to Omaha – we all make plans and my plan is different. This year my goal is the European Championships here in Gothenburg. Delaunay has blossomed here this week. I wasn’t sure he could cope with the atmosphere in there today but he was great; he has matured a lot and I’m really happy with him.”

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl GER (3rd): “I’m happy even though at first I was better than Patrik (a higher mark), but then the score was changed! I’m happy with my ride and it’s super to be in top three.”

Annette Fransen Iacobaeus, Ground Jury President: “Today’s competition was very exciting; we saw some really good riding. We had a mixture of less experienced and top riders today.”

Isabell Werth GER (1st), when asked to rank Emilio amongst the horses she has competed during her career: “That’s like asking a mother which child she loves the most! Horses today are different. Gigolo was a wonderful horse but breeding has changed and so have the horses. Emilio is definitely one of top ones; he has great passage and piaffe.”

Full standings here

Don’t miss a hoofbeat! Watch it all LIVE on www.feitv.org.

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL #RidetoOmaha #FEIWorldCupFinals #TwoHearts

Rider biographies: view online and download from www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

At Gothenburg:

Mayvor Thorin
Press Officer
mayvorthorin@gotevent.se
+46 705 82 8420

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Incredible Isabell Posts Fourth Victory of Season in Neumunster

Isabell Werth and Don Johnson FRH. (Stefan Lafrentz/FEI)

Neumunster (GER), 19 February 2017 – With consummate ease, and more than a little style, Germany’s Isabell Werth claimed her fourth victory of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League at Neumunster (GER), scoring 82.455. She already had a hat-trick under her belt following wins at Lyon (FRA), Stuttgart (GER) and Amsterdam (NED) but those were all achieved with her sensational 12-year-old mare Weihegold FRH. However, it was the 15-year-old Don Johnson who claimed the limelight for the 47-year-old rider whose never-ending list of accolades includes two World Cup titles.

Runner-up was 2013 champion Helen Langehanenberg (34) with the 15-year-old Damsey FRH whose enthusiastic final extended trot almost brought him eye-to-eye with Ground Jury President Dr Hans-Christian Matthiesen. The close encounter didn’t prevent a strong score of 79.150 however, pinning The Netherlands’ Madeleine Witte-Vrees (44) into third on a mark of 77.765 while, last to go of the 15 starters, Switzerland’s Marcela Krinke-Susmelj (51) finished fourth with Smeyers Molberg.

The cosy fit of the Neumunster arena is always a character-test for horses, with the judges and spectators only a whisper away from the action, so Werth was delighted that “Johnny” held it together after tension in the Grand Prix which they won by a relatively slender margin ahead of Witte-Vrees. “He was really super today, really happy and focused so I enjoyed it and could take a lot of risk. The atmosphere here is always difficult but I was fairly confident, even though you never know exactly what’s going to happen – especially with Johnny!” she said.

The knowledgeable crowd was so accurate with their scores in the spectator judging that show organiser, Paul Schockemohle, joked, “Maybe we don’t actually need judges all the time!”  Witte-Vrees said the spectators “showed great respect and gave almost a standing ovation for every rider!” but the intensity of it all saw Judy Reynolds’ 15-year-old Vancouver K bubble over to leave the Irish pair well down the order in tenth place.

It was all good news for Werth, however, and she knows she is spoilt for choice as she heads to Gothenburg (SWE) for the penultimate qualifier next week with Emilio and then brings Don Johnson to the last leg in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) ahead of the series Final in Omaha (USA) next month. “It’s great to have so many horses in good form at the same time and I’m delighted with Johnny today. He’s like a good red wine: he keeps getting better!” she said.

Detailed result here

Quotes:

Isabell Werth GER (1st): “The crowd here goes crazy after each test, so a lot of horses get a bit crazy with all the applause and the prize-giving can be very intense! Sometimes Johnny bucks when he’s excited but mostly he tries to take care of me. He has a lot of character and he doesn’t mean to be mean!”

Helen Langehanenberg (2nd): “I won here in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and it’s very emotional to be back! The crowd was fantastic and welcomed me back so it’s been a great day. I’ve had this horse for a year but we are still getting to know each other. His previous rider was very tall and I’m small so we both have to adapt. Today I felt we were really working together so now it’s time now to start making some plans.”

Madeleine Witte-Vrees NED (3rd): “My next show is Den Bosch, and with today’s points I may be qualified for Omaha so if it stays that way I will definitely go. I changed things in my test today and it was good; I’m happy. There were three major mistakes during the test too, but my horse is still quite young, only 10, so it’s okay to make mistakes, we know we still have work to do.”

Dr. Hans-Christian Matthiesen, Ground Jury President, talking about the new judging system introduced this season: “The judges having to concentrate even more. It’s a challenge and a different way of thinking than in the past. We have a meeting at each show before the competition to discuss things, but I know once we all get used to it then it will be easier.”

Show organiser Paul Schockemohle: “We have had 38,000 spectators at Neumunster this week and today we have a full house!”

Full standings here http://reitturniere-live.de/2017/neumuenster/c-9_pdf_doc1.pdf.

Don’t miss a hoofbeat! Watch it all LIVE on www.feitv.org

Social media: #FEIWorldCupWEL #RidetoOmaha #FEIWorldCupFinals #TwoHearts

Rider biographies: view online and download from www.fei.org/bios.

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

At Neumünster:

Andreas Kerstan
Press Officer
andreaskerstan@comtainment.de
+49 1777 532 624

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145