Tag Archives: Isabell Werth

Nothing Is Worth More Than Our Health: Isabell Werth

Isabell Werth and Satchmo. (FEI/Kit Houghton)

She’s fun, focused, fabulous, and sometimes a little formidable. The most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport, Germany’s Isabell Werth looked set to add yet another title to her very long list at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA before that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I try to take the good things out of all this,” Isabell said when we spoke recently (Saturday 18 April). “I have more time to concentrate on my young horses, more time for the family, for all the horses, for the whole stables, especially now that spring is here and there is so much to do.”

Like everyone else she’s had to adapt in order to keep everyone safe at home. “We have three generations living here on our farm (near Dusseldorf), and my parents are still really well and I hope we can keep the virus away. We try to go on like normal but keep a distance. At the beginning it was quite hard for my son (10-year-old Frederik) not to visit my parents, but now he’s a bit more used to it and so it’s fine.”

My Q&A plan goes a bit astray from the outset. I’m taken aback when I find out that the great Isabell Werth, known in the sport as “The Queen,” is just like so many of the rest of us – girls in particular – who are so passionate about horses and horse sport.

She too was a pony-mad kid, and in a way she’s still just living that dream….

Heroes

When I ask “Who were your childhood heroes?” she tells me, “Well, it all started with the Bille and Zuttel books about a little girl and her pony. I loved to read, and Bille was my first hero and I wanted to be like her! Today my son (10-year-old Frederik) is playing with an iPhone and an iPad, but when I was his age, I was reading those books,” she explains. “It’s a different world now,” I comment, and Isabell replies, “Yes – although for sure it’s not better!

She continues: ”When I got more serious about my riding I looked up to all the big names like Reiner Klimke and Margot Otto-Crepin (sadly, 1989 FEI Dressage World Cup™ winner Margit passed away on Sunday 19 April), and when I started with Dr Schulten-Baumer then Nicole (Olympic gold medallist Nicole Uphoff) was in the stable. It was the time of Christine Stuckelberger and Anne-Grethe Jensen – so many great riders,” she says.

So how does it feel to be the hero for others now? “To be honest I don’t think about it. It’s lovely when kids come up and ask me questions – I’m really touched by that, but I don’t think about why they are doing it!”

Influences

The person who influenced you most? “During my career for sure it was Dr Schulten-Baumer (world-famous dressage trainer and coach, nicknamed Der Doktor). He taught me how to build up a horse and about management. He was always thinking about the future and how to deal with unexpected things, so I was quite well-prepared for what happened later in my career. When I eventually had my own stable all this gave me a strong basis.

“And then of course the second person is Madeleine Winter-Schulze (a great patron of German equestrian athletes including Isabell). These two people were, and are, the most important during my riding career next to my parents, my partner (Wolfgang Urban), and my family.”

Who is in your back-up crew? “My family, my life-partner, and my parents always have my back. I can discuss everything with them in and around the sport, and even though he’s not experienced with horses, Wolfgang has management experience because of his business and profession so he has helped me a lot. When we come to the daily work in the stables first of all it’s Steffi (Steffi Weigard), my groom – she’s really close to me when it comes to what happens with our show horses; she has a very good eye and feeling. The stable staff, my riders, and then Mary (her right-hand woman) of course. I’ve been working with most of these people for more than 10 years and it’s a close partnership,” Isabell explains.

Horses

What do you like best about being around horses? “Being in the middle of them, working with them, just sitting on them and being in my own world. I love it!”

Anything you don’t like about being around horses? “No, only in the horse business sometimes it’s difficult to deal with the people! You have to learn not to say everything you want to say, to know when it’s better to keep your mouth shut! Sometimes that’s hard for me and sometimes I can’t do it, but I have learned to be better at it!” she says with a laugh.

The horse you liked the most? “Gigolo, Satchmo, and now Bella Rose have been the most important horses in my life. At the moment I have Weihegold, and of course I love her and we’ve had great success together, but it is something different with Satchmo for instance.” There is real emotion in her voice now.

“Today he was in the field when I was riding back from the racetrack with Weihegold. I was talking to her about the fact that we should actually be in Las Vegas doing our Freestyle today when Satchmo walked up to remind me that he was there with me 11 years ago (finishing second in the 2009 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final).

“To see him grazing with the little pony Kelly, coming over for a chat and then going down to eat more grass without a care in the world, and to feel Weihe passaging under me because she was so awake and so keen, that’s something special for me personally. She is still enjoying the sport; he is so happy in his retirement, and nobody else sees that moment but it makes me feel so good!”

Have you retired many of your top horses at your farm? “Yes, all of them! Satchmo is the oldest now; he is close to 26; he will have his birthday in May so we will celebrate – maybe have a Corona-party for him! First Class is still here, and Fabienne and Anthony and Gigolo were with us for such a long time, until they were 25, 26, 29 years old and it was really great to have them. Also, to keep them until the day they died, that was, and is, for me also important – they were much more than just successful Grand Prix horses.

“Most of them had about 10 years in the field after 10 years of top sport. Also Whisper – everyone knew him as my ‘doping horse’ (Isabell was suspended in 2009 when Whisper tested positive for a prohibited substance) – but nobody asked later if he’s still alive, and he is still alive (now aged 21) and he is also with my retired horses in the field and we take great care of him in the same way as all the rest. And that’s also something that’s in my heart but nobody sees it!” she says.

Outstanding

Are there some other top horses you would have liked to ride? “Margit Otto-Crepin’s Corlandus. He was such an outstanding horse, and Totilas – it would have been great to feel how he was to ride – and of course Valegro and Mistral Hojris too. They were all fantastic!”

The best horse you have ever ridden? This answer comes as no surprise…. “Bella Rose! She’s the best I’ve ever had, the one able to do everything, and you can feel always there is something more possible – that makes her so outstanding!”

When you are competing you have a gift for working up a crowd – do you think you could have been an actress in another life? “Not really! To be an actress you must be flexible so you can jump into different kinds of roles. But my role is simple: it’s riding dressage, it’s horses, and I love what I do!”

How do you like working with the media? “You learn to have confidence in answering questions, sometimes with more humour; it depends a bit on the emotion at the time. But (and I think I know what’s coming here), when you are asked for the 120,000th time when are you going to stop riding because now you are 50… and you know they are still writing about 10 other riders who are 60 and older but they never ask them when they are going to stop….”

A bit of a joker

If Johnny (Don Johnson), Emilio, Weihe, and Bella were talking about you in the stables, what would they say? “Johnny is a bit like my son; he would say let her tell me what to do but I’ll still do what I want! But when it comes down to it, we are a team. He’s a bit of a joker, but in the end we really love each other!

“Emilio would always be a bit more like a little boy: a little less confident but trying to give his best. Weihe – she would always be saying, ‘Okat, just tell me what I should do and I’ll do it!’ No horse is like her; she can be so quiet, but she can switch from being a nice little mare to a serious competition horse in an instant.

“Bella is proud; she’s a real lady. She knows how good she is and how much I love her. The only thing is that she always wants to do more. She might say, ‘Why won’t she let me run like I want to run, because I could go so much faster!’ You take her out for a hack and go for a little canter but it’s never enough; after a few metres she wants to gallop!”

How do you handle your emotions under pressure? “It’s a question of discipline in the moment, and I had a really good teacher in Dr Schulten-Baumer. You’ll find a lot of photos of me crying in successful moments, but I’m sure you won’t find any of me crying from disappointment. When I’m really disappointed, I work it out on my own. And it’s not because I’m older now. I’ve been like this since I was 20.”

A hard time

What do you say to people when they tell you how worried they are about the pandemic and the effect it’s having on us all? “I think it’s a hard time but I’m sure we will get through it and it won’t be as much of a disaster as some people think right now. But for sure it seems to open the gap more, even in our little horse world, between the rich and the people who are not so wealthy. I think everyone is going to lose in some way, and this puts more responsibility on those in the driving seat.

“Maybe we will go back to some kind of competition life in September or October, but that will depend on how quickly a vaccination can be found. This is a very infective virus and it’s making everyone very scared. I’m hoping that by the end of year we will see light at end of tunnel.

“For the first time in 30 years the Himalayas are visible from a long way. It seems the earth is taking a bit back from us; nature is telling us something important. So for now we have to calm down and know that life is possible without planes, without cars, without a lot of business. Life will go on – with the virus, without the virus – it’s just a question of how we get through it.”

Tokyo

How do you feel about the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games? “For a lot of athletes who wanted to end their career in 2020, it’s huge. In my personal case I say it’s bad luck; maybe the horses were in top shape this year but OK now we have to adjust and prepare for 2021. All three of mine are young and fit enough to go next year, but I’m long enough in sport to know anything can happen between now and then.

“In the end I hold onto my dream of going with Bella to the Olympics, but we have all learned something very important over the last few months. We can have our hopes and dreams… but nothing is worth more than our health.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

A Masterclass with Isabell Werth

London, U.K. – Feb. 24, 2020 – Horse & Country (H&C) is proud to bring their subscribers an exclusive new series featuring German Grand Prix dressage legend and five-time Olympian Isabell Werth. The series, “A Masterclass with Isabell Werth,” will boast four half-hour educational episodes during which Werth will provide unique insight into her training philosophy and what has propelled her to the very top of equestrian sport.

Raised on her parents’ farm in Germany, Werth was exposed to horses from an early age. She competed in showjumping and eventing before being exposed to dressage by her neighbor, renowned dressage expert Dr. Uwe Schulten-Baumer, at age 17. Werth and her mentor worked together for 14 years before Werth established her own training facility near her home village of Rheinberg, Germany. Her career took off and now, with six Olympic gold medals and numerous world championship wins under her belt, Werth is the most decorated equestrian athlete of all time.

Even more impressively, Werth currently can be found three times in the top ten FEI World Dressage Ranking List as she holds the top spot with Bella Rose 2, second place with Weihegold OLD, and ninth place with Emilio 107.

“I love what I do. To go out into the stable and to go out and work with different horses and improve horses – in the end, it brings me great emotions. There is no question of motivation. I really enjoy being competitive,” says Werth of the sport.

Don’t miss the opportunity to watch and learn from the queen of dressage! The first three episodes are available on demand now for your viewing pleasure, while the final episode will be broadcast Feb. 26 at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Subscribe now to watch ‘A Masterclass with Isabell Werth’.

H&C TV broadcasts in Europe, Australia, and in the United States on cable, satellite, and broadband television, including Roku, and online at www.horseandcountrytv.us.

Invincible Isabell Makes It Five-in-a-Row at Amsterdam

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. (FEI/DigiShots)

The partnership that has claimed the FEI Dressage World Cup™ title for the last three years, Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, proved unbeatable at the eighth leg of the Western European League 2019/2020 qualifying series in Amsterdam (NED).

In an awe-inspiring line-up, it was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, series champion in 2014 and 2015, who finished second with Mount St John Freestyle while 2010 title-holder, The Netherlands’ Edward Gal, slotted into third with a stunning ride on the stallion Glock’s Zonik NOP.

This was Werth’s fifth consecutive victory at the Dutch venue, and making it all the more significant for the German superstar was the fact that every one of those wins has been recorded with the brilliant mare who also carried her to team gold at the Rio Olympic Games.

“It all started for Weihe and me when we won the World Cup here in 2016, so Amsterdam has always been a special show for us. From here we went up and up in the sport, and it’s amazing to still have her feeling so good and motivated and engaged with me when she is 15 years old. It was a super atmosphere again today; the crowd was so emotional and they were on their feet when we finished so we really enjoyed that!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The sparkling start-list included many of the sport’s rising stars along with six previous champions. And it was Werth’s compatriot and 2013 series winner Helen Langehanenberg who held the lead at the halfway stage following a super test from her 18-year-old campaigner Damsey FRH, who effortlessly executed a long series of perfect pirouettes on his way to putting 84.380 on the board.

Third in after the break, however, Gal and Zonik wowed the home crowd with a dramatic test that went into the lead with 85.385. But, fourth-last to go, Werth and Weihegold changed everything when scoring over 90 percent. “It was my first time over 90 in Amsterdam but I had Charlotte coming in behind me, so I had to be as good as possible, because I knew she was going for it!” said the rider who had posted a massive 90.280.

And indeed, Dujardin didn’t hold back, opening her floorplan with jaw-dropping extended trot and never looking back.

“I knew I had quite a score to beat, but my horse felt good and I tried my best to give her the most confidence possible. This is only her third onsite show. Coming in today I knew I had to go for it and try my best and I was really pleased – this is the best she’s ever been!” said Dujardin, who posted a superb 89.505 which couldn’t be beaten for runner-up spot.

The clash between Dujardin and Werth has now become the most mesmerising in the sport. Can the undisputed Queen from Germany hold onto her crown, or will Dujardin, who was all but untouchable during her reign with the great Valegro when she set and re-set multiple world records, eventually push her off her throne?

It is all set to play itself out as this year progresses, with Dujardin now well-qualified for the Final in Las Vegas (USA) in April that looks set to be a cracker. Werth plans to take Weihegold once again, and should they succeed in making it four titles in a row then they will be the very first partnership to do so in the 35-year history of the prestigious FEI Dressage World Cup™ series.

Before all that there are three more Western European League qualifiers left to run, at Neumunster (GER) in three weeks’ time where Werth again plans to compete, at Gothenburg (SWE) at the end of February, and in ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in March.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

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.

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