Tag Archives: Isabell Werth

Werth Pips Werndl in Close Contest at Salzburg

Isabell Werth with Emilio. (FEI/Daniel Kaiser)

The Queen of international dressage, Germany’s Isabell Werth, continued her relentless march to the 2020 Final when winning the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League qualifier at Salzburg in Austria.

As defending champion, she only has to compete twice during the qualifying season with whichever horses she intends to take to the Final in Las Vegas, USA next April, and this result makes it a double of victories partnering the 13-year-old gelding Emilio in the current season.

At Lyon, France in October, the pair pinned Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle into runner-up spot, having been pipped by the British duo in the previous day’s Grand Prix. But although they kept their German counterparts Benjamin Werndl and Daily Mirror at bay in both competitions at the Austrian fixture this weekend, their winning margin was a relatively narrow one each time out.

At the press conference afterwards, Werndl said, “This is my favourite place… being so close to Isabell!”

But the five-time title-holder who is bidding to become the first-ever four-in-a-row FEI Dressage World Cup champion was quick with her joking reply: “I’m very happy that Ben had such a good tournament here in Salzburg and is going so well. As long as he stays like that – in second place – that’s fine by me!”

In the early stages there were smart performances from Austria’s Stefan Lehfeliner and Fackeltanz who posted 73.360, and from Ireland’s Anna Merveldt partnering Esporim. At this summer’s European Championships in Rotterdam (NED) this inexperienced 10-year-old Lusitano helped the Emerald Isle to Olympic qualification, and on his Freestyle debut posted a solid score of 73.310. A real eye-catcher was the lovely 12-year-old Robinvale ridden by Greek 18-year-old Theodora Livanos who put 74.455 on the board, but it was Swedish star Patrik Kittel who led the way at the halfway stage on a mark of 75.680 with Eddieni.

The target-score shot up to 78.150 when 2013 series champion, Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg, took her turn with the lovely mare Annabelle. But their lead didn’t last long, Werth and Emilio setting a whole new standard with another of their power-packed tests when next into the arena. It wasn’t perfect, as Werth said afterwards: “There was just a little second going into piaffe,” but, as only she can, this extraordinary competitor simply turned up the heat to throw down a new target of 85.905 which brought the crowd to their feet and put it up to the rest.

Werndl wasn’t intimidated, however. He won with Daily Mirror at this venue last year, and as a partnership the pair has just been getting better and better. They finished second at the opening leg of this series in Herning seven weeks ago scoring 84.545, fifth at the third leg in Stuttgart with 80.900, and here racked up a personal-best 84.705 with a performance filled with freedom of movement, harmony, and lightness. Only their piaffe was holding them back from a higher score that might well have challenged even closer for the win.

It looked set to be another German whitewash until, second-last to go, Victoria Max-Theurer and Benaglio snatched third place from Langehanenberg with a lovely performance that earned the Austrian duo a mark of 78.525 to the delight of the home spectators.

Werth is now planning to give Weihegold, the mare with which she has claimed the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title for the last three years, her second outing of the season at Amsterdam (NED) in January. And looking even further head, when asked which of her rides she plans to take to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, she replied, “The season will decide… but it’s no secret that my first choice is Bella Rose, then Weihe and Emilio.”

Werndl has now bounced to the top of the league table ahead of Langehanenberg in second, The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud in third, and French rider Morgan Barbancon into fourth place. The next leg, at London, Olympia (GBR) on 17 December, will bring the Western European League to the halfway stage.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dalera and von Bredow-Werndl Beat Weihegold and Werth in Classic Clash at Stuttgart

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was “over the moon” with delight after winning the third leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League on home ground at Stuttgart (GER). Riding the 12-year-old Trakehner mare TSF Dalera BB with which she claimed team gold at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) and individual Freestyle bronze at this summer’s European Championships in Rotterdam (NED), she produced a breathtaking performance to pin defending triple-champions Isabell Werth and Weihegold into second place.

The host nation completely dominated the line-up with Helen Langehanenberg, Dorothee Schneider, and Benjamin Werndl finishing third, fourth, and fifth. For von Bredow-Werndl this was a very special result. “It’s like Christmas coming early!” she said.

Werth, winner with Emilio at the second leg of the series in Lyon (FRA) two weeks ago, looked set to march to victory once again after topping the Grand Prix in which von Bredow-Werndl had to settle for second place. But a couple of blips saw the legendary lady trailing her team-mate who set a massive target-score of 88.440 when second-last to go.

The Freestyle began with Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K putting 80.755 on the board, and this pair, who got the worst of the draw after finishing an uncharacteristic 11th in the Grand Prix, were still out in front with just five of the 15 starters – all of them German – left to compete.

Helen Langehanenberg demoted the Irish duo with a brilliant performance from her 17-year-old stallion Damsey FRH who danced up the centreline with foot-perfect tempi-changes to post 83.735. And when Dorothee Schneider and DSP Sammy Davis Jr slotted in close behind with 83.395 and Benjamin Werndl and Daily Mirror scored 80.900, then it was 2013 series champion Langehanenberg who was still in command with just two left to run.

But Benjamin’s sister, 33-year-old Jessica, turned the class on its head with a technically brilliant performance from Dalera that also sparkled.

“She gave me a feeling I’ve never had before! In Rotterdam she was already amazing but today it felt even lighter and easier. Every piaffe was amazing, every transition every passage and pirouette, every half-pass… I’m so excited about our future now!” — Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER)

As Werth set off with her last-to-go ride, it seemed only a matter of form that she would overtake her compatriot’s score. But Weihegold’s test wasn’t clean, and despite a confident one-handed passage to finish, their mark of 87.240 would only be good enough for runner-up spot. “I had super piaffe/passage but had two little mistakes. I maybe risked too much – Jessica deserves to win tonight,” said the five-time champion who is chasing down four titles in a row.

“Stuttgart is one of the toughest qualifiers for the World Cup, so it feels like winning at Aachen or at a Championship! I couldn’t be happier; I knew this was possible but it’s still like a dream come true!” said von Bredow-Werndl.  She’s aiming for the series Final in Las Vegas, USA next April but not with Dalera. “I want to take Zaire to Las Vegas, and I’m trying to prepare Dalera for the Olympics next summer. Tokyo is already for sure somewhere in my head, and I would be delighted to be part of Team Germany there,” she said.

The top nine on the Western European League will qualify for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final, and after the first three qualifiers the leading four on the league table are all Germans, von Bredow-Werndl and Frederic Wandres sharing pole position followed by Langehanenberg in third and Benjamin Werndl in fourth place.

The next leg will take place in Madrid (ESP) in two weeks’ time.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Rolex and Equestrianism: An Enduring Legacy

Photos: Ms. Baade riding Clemens in the Wallküren-Preis at CHIO Aachen, 1930; Isabell Werth riding Satchmo at CHIO Aachen, 2010.

More than 60 years ago, Rolex formed a partnership with the greatest show jumper in history to represent Great Britain, the pioneering Pat Smythe. Winner of more grand prix events in more countries than any man or woman before her, she was the first female rider to participate in the Olympics and the first to win a medal, a team bronze in Stockholm in 1956. Like Rolex, she was an innovator, always pushing back the boundaries of what was possible. In 1957 Smythe joined the Rolex family, becoming its first equestrian Testimonee, marking the start of one of the strongest alliances in the sport. Since then, Rolex’s bond with the equestrian world has grown stronger each year. In 2019, Rolex celebrates several key anniversaries within the sport, with milestones for two elite equine events and two legendary athletes.

ROLEX GRAND SLAM

Rolex’s association with one of the sport’s four prestigious Majors began 30 years ago when it partnered with the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the annual show jumping competition held in the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Canada. It was here, in 2015, that Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash etched his name in equestrian history by becoming the first and, to date, only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate prize awarded to the winner of the Grand Prix at three successive Majors. His feat was the result of an unwavering quest for perfection, an unprecedented display of precision and excellence required to win all of these historic Majors.

Preceding the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is the CHIO Aachen, an event that this year celebrates 20 years of partnership with Rolex. Founded in 1924, this revered event in Germany is the oldest of the four show jumping Majors. Its rich heritage is cherished by the knowledgeable 360,000 fans that annually fill the 40,000-seat open-air stadium over nine days of top-tier competition. Widely considered equestrianism’s “homecoming” event, CHIO Aachen is often likened to The Championships, Wimbledon, being the oldest and most prestigious tournament within the sport. Another quality it shares with the esteemed tennis event, which Rolex is proud to have partnered for more than 40 years, is the unquestionable passion of the spectators who travel far and wide to watch their heroes in action. Isabell Werth is one rider who enjoys superstar status at CHIO Aachen, competing in front of an adoring home crowd whose noisy adulation fills the purpose-built Hauptstadion.

THE QUEEN OF DRESSAGE

Over the years, Werth has become known as “the queen of dressage,” a title bestowed on her due to a glittering career that has helped elevate the discipline to new heights. Werth has won more Olympic medals than any other equestrian athlete in history, 10 in total, six of them gold. Her long list of achievements includes a World Championship victory in 2006 at Aachen, where she was presented with an engraved Rolex Timepiece, and a gold medal for team dressage and a silver for individual dressage at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Speaking of her key achievements, Werth said: “You don’t forget those special moments, even after all these years. Every time I look at my Rolex watch it reminds me of reaching the very top of my sport.”

THE PESSOAS

Another key member of the Rolex family is the Brazilian show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa. Son of Nelson Pessoa, a legendary equestrian athlete in his own right, Rodrigo seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Commenting on his childhood, Rodrigo says: “My father travelled a lot. Taking me to the shows was a way for us to spend time together and he wanted to see if I would catch the horse and competition bug at a young age, and I did.” As Rodrigo grew up, he had the benefit of his father’s knowledge and expertise to guide him through the highs and lows of being an elite equestrian athlete. Nelson supported his son every step of the way, from the moment he first made an impression on the sport at the age of 19, to winning Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. Rolex also has supported Rodrigo during his decorated career. Throughout this partnership, 20 years old and still going strong, the gifted rider has received many accolades and established himself as one of the most respected names in the sport. Of the partnership, Rodrigo says: “The support from Rolex shows how committed they are to our sport and to raising the level of professionalism. The progress made in our sport over the years has been tremendous and it would not have been possible without Rolex elevating the bar.”

Having competed in the upper echelons of the sport for more than four decades, Pessoa decided to take his career in a new direction towards the end of 2016, turning his focus towards coaching and accepting the highly respected position as Irish Chef d’Equipe. In this role, he found himself mentoring young Irish rider Bertram Allen, Rolex’s youngest equestrian Testimonee. In the same way Nelson imparted his wisdom to Rodrigo, the latter now finds himself tutoring one of the sport’s most exciting prospects. Rolex’s partnerships with key figures in the equestrian community, such as Pessoa, Allen, and Werth, run across generations and continents, enabling knowledge and experience to be shared. Rolex is confident this process will perpetuate a cycle of renewed and enduring excellence, the benefits of which can already be seen through Pessoa’s rapid success as Ireland show jumping team manager, to give one example. Within a year of Pessoa taking the reins, an Irish team featuring Allen claimed team gold at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg. Coincidentally, Werth took gold in all three dressage categories she competed in at those Championships, once again highlighting Rolex’s wide-ranging support to top equestrian athletes.

YOUNG RIDERS ACADEMY

It is worth noting that these top competitors’ partner with Rolex not only when they are at the pinnacle of their careers, but also as aspiring riders striving to make their name in the sport. Allen, for example, is a graduate of the Young Riders Academy, an initiative supported by Rolex and the most prestigious training course available to young equestrian athletes. Since leaving the Academy, Allen joined the Rolex family of Testimonees and represents a new era of equestrian excellence. They serve as a reminder of Rolex’s long-standing support for human achievement, which can be traced back to the brand’s pioneering roots and is demonstrated by its creation of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster.

By nurturing young talent and supporting them as Testimonees on their journey to becoming champions, the Swiss watchmaker’s presence permeates all levels of the sport. The brand’s belief in unlimited human potential, in striving for continuous improvement, is embodied in a word inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. Perpetual. The important equestrian anniversaries being celebrated in 2019 highlight Rolex’s long-standing and continuing commitment to this elegant and historic sport.

Minna Hall
rEvolution
http://revolutionworld.com

Werth Pips Dujardin in Exciting Second Leg at Lyon

Isabell Werth riding Emilio. (FEI/Eric Knoll)

Germany’s Isabell Werth showed exactly why she is known as The Queen of international dressage when, on her debut in the 2019/2020 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Western European League at the second leg in Lyon, France, she produced yet another of her right-royal victories.

Partnering the 13-year-old gelding Emilio, she was pinned into second place in the Grand Prix won by Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and her latest shining star, the 10-year-old mare Mount St John Freestyle. But the German legend did what she does best and fought back to win the Lyon leg for the third consecutive year when putting a massive 87.090 on the board.

There was great anticipation of the clash between Werth, who has taken the series title a total of five times including the last three in succession, and Dujardin who was twice crowned champion with the great Valegro. It was at the 2014 Final in Lyon that the British rider first lifted the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy, and fans are super-excited to see her back fighting for the supremacy she held in the sport during the heady years before Valegro’s retirement in December 2016. She’s aiming for a spot at the 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA next April so made a great start to her points campaign when collecting the maximum 20 – as defending champion Werth doesn’t need to collect points; instead she is only obliged to compete twice with her horse of choice in order to qualify.

Werth is the ultimate competitor, already relishing the return of potentially her biggest rival over the coming season and beyond. She always says that competing against the best raises everybody’s game.

“Welcome back Charlotte! It’s good to have the best in the field, and that is also what the public like to see! It’s great to have Charlotte away from her island – now the World Cup season will be really exciting!” said the lady who is herself a longtime legend, with more medals in her trophy cabinet than any other athlete in the history of equestrian sport.

When she came into the ring, fifth-last to go, she was chasing the leading score of 80.015 set by compatriot, Frederic Wandres, riding Duke of Britain. And the crowd were clapping even before she started. “It was a wonderful crowd; the stands were full and the atmosphere was great. This is the second time I rode this Freestyle with this music and I really like it. I’m really happy and proud of Emilio. When you ride the last line and the crowd starts to clap you know you are in a good position!” Werth said after putting that 87.090 up in lights, despite taking the time out during her test to signal, on three occasions, for her music level to be turned up.

She was still holding sway when, last to go, Dujardin came into the ring, aware that her mare was more tense. “Yesterday at the prize-giving she was quite stressed, and today when she saw so many people, she thought we were doing another prizegiving. I felt her stressed and a little worried going into the arena but I’m very proud and happy with how she behaved. She lacks experience and I have to keep her with me, but this was super experience for the future and I think she will become hard to beat!” she said after putting 83.925 on the board for runner-up spot.

Dujardin is already looking down the road to the series Final, and the experience her mare can pick up along the way. “I will go to Olympia (London, GBR) and this will again be a big show with a big crowd and a great atmosphere. Then I plan to go to Amsterdam and hopefully Las Vegas!” she pointed out.

Third-placed Wandres, who posted a mark of 80.015, was delighted with his result. “When I saw the rider-list here I thought it could be difficult to do well, but now being third behind the two Dressage Queens is fantastic! With Duke it is special as we learned together. It is now our second Grand Prix season and we keep progressing,” he said.

Her winning Freestyle score was just fractionally below a personal best for Werth and Emilio as a combination, and the lady who is in the privileged position of having multiple top rides, including her two super-mares Weihegold and Bella Rose, is delighted that the 2019/2020 Western European League is off to such an impressive start. “Herning (the first leg in Denmark) has already taken place and the level was already very high. It is not only Charlotte but lots of good riders taking part, so it will be interesting to see what will happen in Vegas,” said the rider on whose home ground in Stuttgart (GER), the third round of the 11-leg league, will take place in two weeks’ time.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

FEI Dressage World Cup: The Clash of the Queens

Their male counterparts had better watch out! The FEI Dressage World Cup leg in Lyon, organised as part of the Longines Equita Lyon Concours Hippique International (30 October to 3 November), will offer its loyal public a line-up of riders, and in particular of lady riders, which has rarely been seen at a French dressage show.

Charlotte Dujardin at the FEI World Cup leg in Lyon for the first time
The last (and only) time she appeared in the main arena at Lyon-Eurexpo was back in 2014, at the FEI Dressage World Cup Final, organised by Sylvie Robert’s team. And it was in Lyon that the English rider, at that time partnered by her legendary Valegro, won her first Final. Charlotte Dujardin, two-time winner of the title (Lyon 2014, Las Vegas 2015), three-time Olympic champion (team and individual medallist in London in 2012 and individual medallist in Rio in 2016), World champion in 2014, and five times gold medallist in a European Championship between 2011 and 2015, has made the 2019-2020 FEI Dressage World Cup her objective this winter. After a curtailed European Championship in 2019, where with Mount St John Freestyle she nevertheless beat her own record in the Grand Prix (81.91%), ‘Queen Charlotte’ is aiming to qualify her young ten-year-old mare for the 2020 Final in Las Vegas. Since her titles in Lyon in 2014 and Las Vegas in 2015, Charlotte Dujardin has only competed in three FEI World Cups: London in 2015 and in 2018, and Amsterdam in 2016. This season she should appear on at least three occasions, including Lyon.

Isabell Werth, one of our most loyal riders, heading for a fifth victory in Lyon?
Just as the Lyon ring brought success for the English rider Charlotte Dujardin, other riders have succeeded her since 2014 and in particular Germany’s Isabell Werth. Winner of the FEI World Cup leg in Lyon in 2010, then in 2016, 2017, and 2018, this legend of equestrian sport has nothing but praise when speaking of the only French leg on the circuit. She was also the ‘patron’ of the candidacy of the show when Sylvie Robert’s team was applying to the FEI to organise a Dressage World Cup.  In 2019, the German team is sending another of its brilliant ambassadors in the form of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who won the bronze medal this summer at the European Championships, and will also be appearing at the Longines Equita Lyon Concours Hippique International. She will be riding Zaire-E, the horse with which she came second at the FEI World Cup leg in Budapest, at the end of September.

Serious competitors also to be found on the men’s side
Dutchman Hans Peter Minderhoud, the winner of the FEI Dressage World Cup Final in 2016, is expected in Lyon, along with his fifteen-year-old stallion, Glock’s Zanardi.  Sweden’s Patrik Kittel, another horseman loyal to the Lyon leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup, will be riding his gelding Delaunay OLD, the horse with which he leapt up the world rankings this month (from the twentieth to the thirteenth position). The combination also won the FEI World Cup leg in Budapest, ahead of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

French riders headed up by Morgan Barbançon-Mestre
In the Hungarian World Cup leg in Budapest, Kittel was the winner, Germany’s Von Bredow-Werndl was second and Mestre came third. Riding Sir Donnerhall II OLD, she finished in the Grand Prix Freestyle with a record score for the combination: 77.75%!  Morgan and ‘Gus’ (the affectionate nickname given to the stallion by his rider) will head up a major French delegation in Lyon. The audience at the Longines Equita Lyon Concours Hippique International will have the chance to show their support for Stéphanie Brieussel and Amorak, Anne-Sophie Serre and Actuelle de Massa, and Alexandre Ayache with Zo What.

In order to showcase dressage to as many people as possible, the organisers of the Longines Equita Lyon Concours Hippique International have decided to open the FEI World Cup leg in Lyon to all the visitors. On Thursday 31 October in the morning and on Friday 1 November in the afternoon, spectators who have “trade show” tickets will discover the best dressage riders in the world, during performances worthy of the greatest specialists. On Thursday, the doors of the trade show will open at 7.30am to let spectators be comfortably seated in the stands at 8am.

  • The FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix presented by the Comité Régional d’Equitation Auvergne Rhône-Alpes: Thursday 31 October, at 8am
  • The FEI World Cup Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle presented by FFE Generali: Friday 1 November, at 4pm

Press contact: Blizko Communication
Daniel Koroloff, Juliette Feytout – Mob.: +33(0)6 11 02 18 12
Email: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Werth Makes It a Golden Hat-Trick in Fabulous Freestyle Finale

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

On a day of breathtaking sport, Germany’s Isabell Werth brought the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 to a close when claiming her third gold medal of the week in the Freestyle riding her great mare Bella Rose. And on a day filled with personal-best performances, her compatriots Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl clinched silver and bronze, with Schneider only 0.314 off Werth’s winning score.

The competition built to an incredible crescendo as rider after rider excelled themselves in front of a packed stadium of knowledgeable spectators who savoured every moment. Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen drew gasps of delight with spectacular one-tempi changes from his one-eyed stallion Blue Hors Zack to take the temporary lead when eighth to go of the 15 starters. But two horses later the home crowd went wild when Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik NOP went out in front with 84.271.

Fifth-last into the arena, von Bredow-Werndl and her 12-year-old mare TSF Dalera blew the competition wide open with a personal-best score of 89.107, showing beautiful rhythm and balance and the softest of contact in their one-tempi changes. Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, who took bronze in Thursday’s Grand Prix Special, followed with a fabulous test that slotted them in behind on 87.771, and then it was time for the lady recognised as the Queen of international Dressage, Werth, with the great love of her life, the mare she calls Bella.

And the crowd was in for a treat, the extraordinary horsewoman working them into a frenzy of excitement that had them clapping wildly as the turned the centreline for their final halt. But the battle wasn’t over yet, because Schneider threw down the best score of her career with Showtime who showed his great power and presence when putting 90.561 on the board. Last to go, Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K ended a superb week that saw her post three new Irish record scores when finishing fifth, behind Dufour, on a mark of 85.589.

Bronze medallist von Bredow-Werndl described this as “the most exhausting week ever; it was a roller-coaster of emotions but it had the happiest ending I could have wished for, and Dalera was just extraordinary today. At the very beginning she was a little bit nervous and I was a bit nervous before I entered the arena, but I took some deep breaths and I was completely with her and she was with me for the whole test; there was no second we lost each other and it was just a phenomenal dance!” she said.

Schneider had every reason to be elated by her score too, because her mark sees her join an elite group that includes only five other riders who have achieved over 90 percent in Freestyle. “When Showtime came into the arena and saw the audience, he said let’s dance now, and we danced together… we really enjoyed ourselves! I wasn’t thinking about scores; I just wanted to enjoy this Freestyle… it’s an emotional bond between Showtime and me and today he had fun and I did too!” she said.

This has been a great week and a very long week and I’m so happy and so proud of Bella!” said Werth. “She gave me a super feeling in all three competitions, and she was always doing her best.

“There were so many exciting performances here in Rotterdam, and for a few of us it was a real roller-coaster which reminds us that, in Championships, anything can happen. For me and Bella there were things today that we could improve on, but there were also so many highlights, and in the end to come up the centreline and hear the audience start to clap – I’m just so happy; it has been a super week for Germany!”

The most successful athlete in the entire history of international equestrian sport, Werth collected the 24th European Championship medal of her astonishing career but she said that her medal collection is not what drives her.

“The most beautiful thing is the many different horses, and different kinds of horses I have had – that’s why I’m still motivated to ride. To wake up and go in the saddle every day, it’s a privilege when you can do what you love, and you love what you do, and Madeleine (Winter-Schulze, her patron) gives me all the freeness I need to do the sport… this is why I’m still here!” she said.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werth Takes Back-to-Back Grand Prix Special Gold

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Team-mate Schneider pushes her all the way

In a mighty battle between two of the sport’s true greats, Isabell Werth, the lady recognised as the reigning Queen of international Dressage, won through once again in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Two years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden, Werth pinned team-mate Sonke Rothenberger into silver medal spot, and this time around it was her other German compatriot, Dorothee Schneider, who had to settle for second place. But Schneider chased her right to the line with a brilliant performance from Showtime, and was overwhelmed with emotion afterwards.

“This is the greatest day of my life – my first individual medal!” said the double-Olympian. “I had one mistake in the flying changes because I lost a stirrup – I have to talk to my trainer about doing some lunging again! I’ve been riding this horse for 10 years now and he is so amazing. I’m really proud to be sitting in second place tonight behind Isabell!” she said.

She established the lead with just five left to go on a mark of 85.456 but Werth overtook her with another of her show-stopping rides on the mare she most adores, posting the winning score of 86.520.

“I know that with Bella Rose everything is possible and it is up to me to make it happen. The piaffe/passage could not be better than it was tonight; the feeling was outstanding and the atmosphere was really special!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

Bronze went to Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, the pair who really put themselves onto centre stage when also third in the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the 2017 Europeans. They posted 81.337 just before Schneider came into the ring but, typically modest, the Danish rider didn’t think that was good enough for a podium placing and headed back to the stables with her little chestnut gelding only to get the call-up to return to the arena. And that took a bit of reorganisation.

“I didn’t think I would get a medal so I told my groom to unplait him, so we had to put the plaits back in again – it was a bit of a surprise – but I’m so happy with Cassidy; he’s now 16 but he’s in such great shape!” she said.

Age is but a number to the horses competing this week, and there was huge excitement in the Irish camp when Judy Reynolds and her 17-year-old gelding Vancouver K separated the two remaining members of Tuesday’s gold-medal-winning German team, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who slotted into fourth with TSF Dalera BB and Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo in sixth place. Scoring 78.252, Reynolds finished fifth and set her second Irish record score of the week having helped secure an Olympic team qualifying spot for her country with another brilliant performance on Tuesday.

The evening’s competition had a real buzz about it and Judge a C, Susanne Baarup, said the Ground Jury enjoyed every moment of it. “It was an amazing class and also very exciting to judge because a lot of riders had some problems in there. I think as a judge it’s very emotional; we get goosebumps, and we give 9s and 10s and we think my god where do we end here! It’s really just the small details that separate the riders. We talked afterwards and said we want to do it again, we want to see them again, and of course we will do that on Saturday in the Freestyle, and we are really looking forward to it!”

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werth Proves Unbeatable One More Time

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

In a competition that built to an incredible climax, Germany’s Isabell Werth (49) stood firm to win the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title for the fifth time in her extraordinary career. They came from all around the globe to take on the most successful equestrian athlete of all time and gave it everything they had, but she didn’t buckle under the pressure. That’s not her style.

As she entered the arena, second-last to go of the 18 starters, the crowd held its breath in anticipation. They had watched rider after rider throw everything they had at her, piling on the pressure as they also bid for the trophy they all want to win. The spectators were in a frenzy when Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven and Don Auriello drew the first half of the competition to a close with a breathtaking ride on her great Don Auriello, and they went into complete over-drive when it re-started with a new leading score from their own Patrick Kittel and Delaunay OLD.

But Laura Graves (31) blew the competition wide open when strutting to a score of 87.179 with just five left to go. As the American pointed out, her gelding Verdades, one of the five stunning 17-year-old horses who have graced this Final, is just getting better with age and she stayed out in front despite a spectacular ride for Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen (28) who didn’t hold anything back when steering the stallion Blue Hors Zack to a score of 85.468.

With a beautifully balanced test during which her elegant horse Goerklintgaards Dublet looked like he could do one-tempi changes all day, another of the strong American contingent, Kasey Perry-Glass, slotted in behind him. So, Graves was still holding court at the head of the leaderboard as Werth set off. But it wouldn’t be for long.

“My ride was really fantastic; my mare did a perfect test and she really deserved the win!” said the lady whose trophy cabinet is laden with gold medals, including six from Olympic Games, eight collected at World Games, and 12 from European Championships who put 88.871 on the board. Werth is never altogether pleased when asked what still drives her, at almost 50 years of age, to still be hungry for success, but she replied simply, “I live what I do… and this is what keeps me so competitive!”

Reflecting on her performance she said, “I could take all the risks at extended canter and take her back and the pirouettes were great. We could not have been better!” Except, as she admitted, in the one-tempi changes where there was a little blip. “I was arrogant there, so that was my fault!” she said.

She may have been brilliant once again, but the prize for the most exciting test went, without a shadow of doubt, to her compatriot and 2013 champion Helen Langehanenberg who finished third on a mark of 86.571 after a performance that, quite literally, ended with onlookers gasping in disbelief. None more than Judge at C, Magnus Ringmark, whose expression was priceless as the German rider’s 17-year-old stallion Damsey FRH exploded down the centreline in a massive extended trot, halting only inches from his table. “I thought he was going to end on my lap!” the Swedish Ground Jury member laughed afterwards.

“The sport has changed a lot since I won my first Final,” Werth reflected. That was 27 years ago, also in Gothenburg riding a horse called Fabienne. “We now have such a professional team around us, and there are great improvements on all sides. It is very important for us to keep the respect for the horse for the future and it’s great to see so many older horses still performing at this level; it shows how well they are cared for and how much respect their riders have for them,” she said.

Both runner-up Graves and third-placed Langehanenberg were riding two of those 17-year-olds, still full of the joys of life and still intensely competitive. Langehanenberg said of the hard-pulling Damsey FRH, “I am thankful and really proud of him. The clapping motivated him at the end of the test and I think he would have been quite happy to start all over again!”

This didn’t just mark Werth’s fifth victory; it was also her third in succession and, each time over the last three seasons, it has been Graves who she has had to pin back into runner-up spot.

“Like Isabell said, it is our duty to take care of our horses and try to keep them healthy. My horse likes his job and never puts a foot wrong when I ride him, although at the barn he knows he’s the boss! He was so rideable today, the crowd was amazing, and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as me!” said the American.

The greeting the riders received in the prizegiving suggested that the crowd most certainly did.

Result here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Werth Wins Grand Prix, but Runner-Up Graves Looks a Powerful Threat

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

The legend that is Germany’s Isabell Werth (49) steered her wonderful 13-year-old mare, Weihegold OLD, to victory in the Grand Prix as the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2019 got underway at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE).

But the World No. 1 rider, and the most decorated athlete in the history of equestrian sport, is taking nothing for granted as she chases down her third consecutive, and fifth overall, World Cup title.

“I can feel the breeze on the back of my neck!” she admitted, after the World No. 2 combination of America’s Laura Graves (31) and Verdades slotted into second place on a day when US riders were highly impressive.

Indeed, the deciding Freestyle competition looks set to be another thriller, and the sold-out stadium will be throbbing with excitement. Third-placed Dane, Daniel Bachmann Andersen, said it suited his stallion Blue Hors Zack when the crowd clapped enthusiastically as they came into the ring. But Judy Reynolds’ Vancouver K didn’t feel the same way, spinning around with fright and boiling over at times when they were first to go. The Irishwoman, whose Freestyle programme is a big crowd favourite, just shrugged it off after finishing 14th of 18 starters. That blip is already confined to history as far as she is concerned.

It was America’s Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet who headed the leaderboard with a score of 77.267 at the halfway stage after a performance that oozed partnership between horse and rider. And when Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey posted 76.957 as the second-half action began, the US rider was still out in front. But then Werth set off with Weihegold and the big scores just kept coming in, the precision and quality of the mare’s work seeing them post 81.755 to soar out in front.

Bachmann Andersen’s Blue Hors Zack did a lovely test. “He’s just getting better and better!” said the Danish star who temporarily slotted into second when putting 78.152 on the board, but Werth’s lead looked very vulnerable when Graves followed him into the ring, fourth-last to go. Some big early scores suggested the American just might oust the defending double-champion, but there was a little mistake in extended trot and the final scoreline of 80.109 left Werth in pole position.

The German superstar and multiple champion knows the story is far from over, however, and Graves reminded her of that at the post-competition press conference. You could tell that the American meant it when she said, “I’m incredibly hungry to be at the top of the podium and I’ll do my very best tomorrow. I know there is a real chance; I believe in this horse – he’s 17 but in the best shape ever!”

But Werth has been to battle, and won, so many times before, and as she said, “Gothenburg holds great memories for me.” It was here that she posted her very first FEI Dressage World Cup Final win with Fabienne in 1992. Can she do it again 27 years later? As she said, “Tomorrow is a whole new game – we will have to wait and see.”

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Can Graves Go One Better in Gothenburg?

German superstar, Isabell Werth, returns to defend her title at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2019 Final in Gothenburg (SWE) next week. She’ll have to fend off many powerful opponents, including America’s Laura Graves. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Demand for tickets for the FEI Dressage World Cup™ and Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals has been so incredibly high that the show organisers are providing a big-screen experience for those who can’t access a seat in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) on the deciding days. “The tickets have long been sold out and we have been working for a long time to come up with a solution that makes it possible for more people to take part in this year’s horse party!” said Gothenburg Horse Show Project Manager, Patrik Fredriksson. So, in co-operation with EuroHorse, all visitors can watch Saturday and Sunday’s thrilling Final action live on-screen in the adjoining Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre which hosts a hugely popular equestrian fair.

The excitement is already palpable with just days to go before the doors are opened to many of the best horse-and-rider combinations in the world next Wednesday, 3 April. For Germany’s Isabell Werth, it’s a matter of taking on all challengers in her bid to add a fifth Dressage title to the extraordinary list of achievements that has confirmed her status as the most successful equestrian athlete of all time.

Stalking her every inch of the way will be America’s Laura Graves who, partnering the now 17-year-old Verdades, has come dangerously close to ousting the German star over the last few seasons. They were runners-up at the Finals in 2017 and 2018, and, at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA last September where they helped clinch team silver, only Werth and Bella Rose stood between them and individual gold.

Graves has to be hungry to go that one step further which would see her become only the third American FEI Dressage World Cup™ title-holder in the 34 editions of the series.

It was in Gothenburg in 2003 that Debbie McDonald claimed the USA’s first victory partnering Brentina, and Steffen Peters steered Ravel into pole position in Las Vegas six years later.

Look at the line-up though and there are many other hopes and dreams to be realised. Could Patrik Kittel and Delauney OLD become only the second-ever Swedish champions? It’s 21 years since Louise Nathorst and LRF Walk on Top triumphed on home soil in Gothenburg, pipping the legendary duo of The Netherlands Anky Van Grunsven and Bonfire, while Isabell Werth and Anthony FRH finished third.

Can Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen produce the same level of expertise that saw him win the final leg of the Western European League at ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) two weeks ago with the one-eyed stallion Blue Hors Zack? What an amazing story that would be: only one other Dane has ever done it and that was Anne-Grethe Jensen with Marzog who pinned Great Britain’s Christopher Bartle, now one of the world’s most celebrated coaches, into second place with Wily Trout, while Switzerland’s Christine Stuckelberger finished third with Rubelit von Unkelruf. That was at the inaugural FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final staged in ’s-Hertogenbosch in 1986 – all of 33 years ago but, like all great sporting moments, embedded into the memory of those who witnessed it.

And then of course there’s Ireland’s Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K, a horse purchased for the price of a second-hand car who has broken Irish records like it’s going out of style in recent years and who, at 17 years of age, is better and fresher than ever. This pair has a big fanbase – Reynolds has achieved every little girl’s dream in finding a horse to take her to the top of the sport, and the diminutive and super-talented rider has been consistently threatening for a podium placing at majors over the last few seasons. Gothenburg holds good memories for them because they finished eighth at their first FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final there in 2016 before moving right up to fourth in Omaha (USA) the following year. They’ve been achieving personal-best scores in quick succession over the last few months and their “Riverdance” themed floorplan and music will get the toes tapping and the hands clapping for sure – the Gothenburg crowd are guaranteed to fall in love with them. Could they completely break the mould and become the very first Irish winners? What a story that would be.

Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city, located on the west coast of the country with a stunning archipelago just around the corner. It’s a great city to visit and it’s already starting to fill up with fans wanting to get a glimpse of their favourite equestrian stars and waiting for the action to kick off with warm-up classes and national events on 3 April. The first competition in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, the Grand Prix, will take place at 13.00 on Thursday 4 April and the deciding Freestyle will hold centre stage on Saturday 6 at 16.00. It’s going to be a week of spectacular sport, and for Dressage fans the biggest question is: can anyone beat Isabell? We’ll have to wait and see.

Check out all the details here.

Gothenburg Horse Show website here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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