Graves Can Check Winning The Grand Prix Special At Aachen Off Her Bucket List

Jul 22, 2017 - 4:22 PM

Aachen, Germany—July 22   

As she stood during the awards ceremony, Laura Graves heard the crowd packing the Deutsche Bank Stadium break into an impromptu “Happy Birthday.” Graves turned 30 today, but she marked another milestone as well—winning at Aachen.

Graves and Verdades scored 81.82 percent in the CDIO***** Grand Prix Special to take the title over Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD. It was a very meaningful win for the U.S. rider.

Laura Graves and Verdades on their way to their Aachen Grand Prix Special win. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

“There was no real pressure, but it is a goal. I want to be No. 1 in the world,” Graves said. “It’s not so much about beating Isabell. Undoubtedly, she’s one of the top riders in the world. Just to beat her isn’t necessarily a personal thing, but it’s a measure of my own training and that’s a very special thing.

“He was just unbelievable. We haven’t done the Special all year. My priority this year had been on the World Cup Final [which is decided by the freestyle],” Graves said. “Our warm-up was a little tricky because he kept thinking about the Grand Prix and our changes come off the other lead in this test. I knew the second we got in there, he said, ‘OK, yeah mom, it’s the Special,’ and I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. He’s so special in that way—you just point and ask and he tries his best.”

Watch video of Graves’ winning ride in Watch Why They Won.

Laura Graves celebrated her Grand Prix Special win at Aachen on Verdades. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Graves and “Diddy” relegated Werth and Weihegold OLD to second, but Germany prevailed in the team Nations Cup. It was also the first Special for Weihegold since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Werth reported that she certainly became aware of this today. She made a mistake in the extended trot, the black mare moved into the first piaffe too hesitantly and then the pair made a huge mistake in the two-tempi flying-changes. Nevertheless, the judges awarded the pair a score of 81.05 percent.

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD had some mistakes to finish second in the Special. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

“Well, Weihe didn’t say today when we turned right, ‘Oh that’s what you want me to do, mum!’” Werth joked. Instead she noticed that the mare hasn’t competed in a Special for a long time. “I noticed that the mare was unsure. We lacked the self-confidence we had in the Grand Prix,” she said. Werth sincerely congratulated Graves, but stated regarding tomorrow’s freestyle, the concluding competition in the Deutsche Bank Prize, “I am sharp to win, too.”

Graves is eager to show off in the freestyle as well. “The last ride is still in there, so hopefully we can hang onto this tiny little lead that we have at the moment. He’s incredible and it’s such an honor to even be invited to Aachen, much less win. It’s like an Olympics in a way,” Graves said.

The Germans were already on course for the Nations Cup win after the Grand Prix. And after the Special one could safely say: Mission accomplished. Werth with Weihegold, Sönke Rothenberger with Cosmo, Dorothee Schneider with Sammy Davis Jr. as well as Hubertus Schmidt with Imperio finished on a total score of 471.046 and thus left the Americans (450.392) and the Swedes (437.635) trailing behind them.

The U.S. team comprised of Adrienne Lyle/Savlino (73.60%), Kasey Perry-Glass/Goerklintgaards Dublet (71.60%), Olivia Lagoy-Weltz/Lonoir (72.11%) and Laura Graves/Verdades (81.82%).

The U.S. dressage team claimed second in the Aachen Nations Cup. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Sönke Rothenberger rode in between Werth and Graves, as the last rider in the German team. He and his 10-year-old Cosmo got off to a strong start. But the gelding spooked during the walk tour. Then he marched through the diagonal quite relaxed. His rider wasn’t sure what had unnerved him.

Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo claimed third for Germany in the Grand Prix Special. Photo by Shannon Brinkman

Further mistakes in the one-tempi flying changes and in the trot tour pushed his score down further. The end result was 78.31 percent and third place individually, but much more was possible. Rothenberger said, “I am above all annoyed at myself. I wasn’t concentrated enough.” Asked whether he had celebrated too much. He replied “No, not all. Perhaps that was the problem!”

See full results of the Aachen CDIO***** Grand Prix Special. 

IMPORTANT LINKS:  What You Need To Know  |  Schedule  |  Live Results  |  Direct link to Aachen stream on  |  Aachen’s main site

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo by Shannon Brinkman
Laura Graves shared a moment with “Diddy” after their Grand Prix Special win. Photo by Shannon Brinkman


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