Isabell Werth riding Weihegold. (Pierre Costabadie/FEI).
Lyon (FRA), 28 October 2016 – German superstar, Isabell Werth, produced a personal-best Freestyle score of 90.09 to win the second leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League at Lyon in France. The 47-year-old rider and her 11-year-old mare simply blew the competition away with an outstanding performance that seemed to take even this multi-medalled athlete by surprise.
The pair, who claimed team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was always favourites, especially after winning Thursday’s preliminary Grand Prix. But the scale of Friday’s victory was exceptional. “I was expecting she could do a super job, but to get more than 90 percent – now that was amazing! She has really improved since Rio!” Werth said of her talented horse.
Britain’s Carl Hester and his Olympic ride Nip Tuck finished second with a big score of 85.02, while defending FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion, The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud, slotted into third with Glock’s Johnson on a mark of 80.22. In an all-German battle for fourth it was Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Zaire-E who edged out birthday girl Fabienne Lutkemeier and D’Agostino FRH by just 0.01 marks when posting 79.63, while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Deja filled sixth place on 77.97.
Kittel led the world-class 15-strong field at the halfway stage, but once Werth set sail with four left to go, the result never seemed in any doubt, Weihegold’s confidence and self-carriage complimenting delightful passage, piaffe and pirouette. In essence it all seemed effortless, and as she left the arena the six-time Olympic gold medallist had the broadest of smiles.
“Since Rio my mare has even more power and more muscle, and I know we can be even better. I need a few more competitions to make it really come together but it’s so exciting!” said the athlete who secured the first of her two FEI World Cup™ Dressage titles in 1992 and who has the 2017 Final at Omaha (USA) firmly in her sights.
Hester has the same target, and joked that he felt he had a great chance now that his protégés, the world-beating partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, are retiring. “I thought this season might be my opportunity, but now that Isabell is getting so much better it’s going to be a tougher fight!” he said.
The nine-leg series now moves to Stuttgart in Germany next month.
Detailed result here
Isabell Werth GER (1st): “My plan is to compete Weihegold in Stuttgart, then she has a break and I will bring out Johnny (Don Johnson) and we will see how it goes. Of course she (Weihegold) should be my first choice for the Final.”
Carl Hester GBR (2nd): “I’ll compete at Olympia and Amsterdam and I’m hoping that in December/January, I will get enough points so I can relax after that, but we’ll have to see how it goes. We’re all competitors and we all want to win, but we all have our limitations, the horses and the riders, so coming second today felt like winning!”
Hans Peter Minderhoud NED (3rd): “I had an easier ride today than yesterday; there was a small misunderstanding on last centreline when my horse thought we were finished but we had to do a bit more. Having an audience like this in Lyon is great; my horse counts the spectators and the bigger the crowd the better he is! As I’m already qualified it’s going to be a fairly relaxed season. I plan is to ride Glock’s Flirt in London and then go to Amsterdam and den Bosch. I’ll ride Flirt at one of those shows and Johnson at the other so will have ridden both horses twice in the season, so I have two to choose from for the Final.”
Isabel Judet (FRA), Ground Jury President, when asked about her thoughts on the high score of 90 percent, which is so rare: “Lyon is lucky to have some of world’s best riders and when you have them then you have good scores! I’m very happy the French public was able to enjoy dressage at this level – you don’t get to see it every day!”
Karen Tebar FRA (7th): “This was my best score ever! I’m very happy. I have this horse for 18 months and this is our first indoor of the season. This is quite an impressive show for riders and horses but it is nice and well organised.”
Bettina de Rham, FEI Dressage Director: “Lyon is a magnificent show and using the new judging system was a positive thing. Dressage is continuously developing and moving forward.”
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By Louise Parkes
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Manager Press Relations
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