Omaha, Neb.—April 7
The dressage world has seen a lot of superstars over the past decade: Totilas ,Valegro, Weihegold OLD, Verdades. And over the last two years, TSF Dalera BB has proved that she belongs among them.
She was double gold medalist at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, earned three gold medals at the 2021 FEI European Dressage Championships (Germany) and won the 2022 FEI Dressage World Cup Final (Germany). Tonight she joined a small group of horses who have won multiple World Cup titles, after earning a 90.48% in the Grand Prix freestyle with Germany’s Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl.
“It’s always a challenge to do it again, to be honest, and to be in the here-and-now and to have everything together, and again it worked out,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be allowed to ride such an incredible mare. … This mare is something very special because she always throws her heart in the arena for me and really wants to give 200 percent. And she did it again today, and I can’t be more proud and grateful.”
The pair started the week by topping the Grand Prix, but it wasn’t without mistakes. Dalera had only shown three times since she took a break from the show ring while von Bredow-Werndl was pregnant with her second child, and she came in fresh and with a few nerves. But today they were back in top form.
“I was confident,” she said. “We are mirroring each other. She was confident, and I got confident, and the other way around, but she was excited but still with me, and I felt that from the very first step. So we were certain.”
Watch von Bredow-Werndl’s test, courtesy of FEI.tv:
Von Bredow-Werndl has been riding Dalera for eight years now, and the two have developed a strong partnership in that time.
“We are like soulmates,” she said. “She loves me as much as I love her. It’s really like a dream I’m living with her, and I enjoy cantering through the forest as doing piaffe with her. She’s such a special creature to spend time with.”
Unlike von Bredow-Werndl’s long partnership, second-placed finishers Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zepter are still in the infancy of their relationship, but they earned a personal best of 87.14%.
“The partnership is really new,” the Danish rider said. “I’ve been riding him for four months, and this was our third competition together. So it’s very new, and I still feel like there’s so many buttons that I still have to find because he has really unlimited potential.”
While Merrald is in a good spot already with “Zepter” she feels like there’s still more to come.
“There’s still a lot more, and I think with the time you keep on improving,” she said. “It take many years. You never think, ‘OK, now I’m done,’ because you can keep on improving all the time, but definitely four months is not all the time. A year or two would be good.”
Germany’s Isabell Werth knows how to put on a show, and she did it once again in Omaha. In the middle of her test with DSP Quantaz she grinned widely as she could feel the crowd’s energy behind her.
“I really enjoyed my freestyle,” she said. “The music, it really inspires me, and I think it also inspired the crowd. So it was just fun.”
The pair scored a 85.76% to finish third.
Peters Enjoys The Ride
U.S. rider Steffen Peters also knows a thing or two about putting on a show as well. At the Tokyo Olympics, his mount Suppenkasper earned the moniker “Rave Horse” thanks to the dance music Peters picked out for his freestyle, becoming wildly popular amongst non-horse people as well.
It’s hard to up your game after that, but Peters found a way to do so.
He isn’t afraid to add words into his freestyle, having done so with his former partner Legolas 92, and he included some fun ones for “Mopsie.” They turned down the final centerline as a voice rapped, “I’m from California near the seashore, and I roll with the people on the dance floor. I add lyric to the beat; I’m a horse who’s super sweet, and when I halt my freestyle will be complete,” before doing an extended trot into their final halt.
“We tried to step it up a little bit from Tokyo, you know, that was difficult to do,” he said. “It’s kind of like writing a sequel to a really good movie, how do you actually step it up because you can overdo it, and it sounds ridiculous, and so we just tweaked it at the end, added some lyrical twists. I came up with the idea, but my friend Terri Gallo actually recorded the final lyrics, and it worked out great.”
The pair scored a personal best of 83.92% to take fourth.
“What an amazing party it was from start to finish,” he said. “And hearing the crowd getting ready to applaud already during the last extension was a wonderful feeling. I think the crowd liked it; Mopsie liked it; I liked it.”
Anna Buffini also came armed with freestyle music designed with the crowd in mind. She and FRH Davinia La Douce danced along to scores from “Top Gun: Maverick” mixed with some walk music sung by Buffini herself. They earned a 77.84% for sixth.
“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for more; I couldn’t have asked for a better test. We were conservative on purpose on the first day for a clean test, and we pushed for more today. To still have a clean test while taking more risk is everything you could want.”
After a lackluster performance in the Grand Prix, World Cup debutant Alice Tarjan had a much improved performance in the freestyle. While a mistake in the two-time tempi changes proved costly, she and Serenade MF scored a 75.20% for ninth.
“Need to learn how to count, to two,” she joked, “No, but I’ve been really happy with the horse. I think the horse is fantastic, and we kind of redeemed ourselves from last time. So a work in progress of course. But keep training.”
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