Mill Spring, N.C.—Sept. 12
Isabell Werth had a pretty important promise to keep as she rode in to the U.S. Trust Arena for the Helgstrand Dressage World Grand Prix Special Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games.
Madeleine Winter-Schulze, who owns Werth’s mount Bella Rose 2, missed the competition today as she was scheduled for surgery after she broke her leg earlier this week.
“She’s in hospital, and I said, ‘I will try my best to bring the gold medal and a glass of champagne to the hospital and as soon as possible,’” said Werth.
Werth made good on that promise. With all that she’s won in her career, an individual medal at a World Championship had escaped her since 2006—but that ended today. A monster score of 86.34 percent gave Werth the gold.
“You can imagine that we had three other riders with more than 81 percent already, so I knew I had to go and give our best to really get the gold medal,” Werth said. “But I felt so safe on her and so happy on her the whole time yesterday. She has so much energy, and she’s so patient to go and to present herself, so it’s always great to go in with a horse that you know there’s a chance because the horse is so good, and it’s up to you if you can show it in the right way, and that was the case.”
Four years ago at the WEG, the international dressage world was introduced to Laura Graves after she snuck into the top 10 in the Special and found herself in fifth following the freestyle. Today she found herself savoring the moment when she finally got her first individual medal with Verdades after turning in a score of 81.71 percent for silver.
“When you’re looking at scores this high, it really has to be a test that from start to finish is pretty flawless,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to be on a horse that really wants to do this job, especially in this heat. I think it’s a real test of a horse’s character when you ask them to go if they show up for you, and my horse certainly did that today.”
Verdades has been known to be reactive and sensitive to sound, and there have been times when the roaring crowd has unnerved him a little bit. Not this week though. The 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood has been ready to rock since they arrived.
“It’s been incredible here,” she said. “Actually the past two days I just keep laughing because even before stadium was open or ready for horses, we’d be schooling in the warm-up, and he kept kind of dragging me towards the stadium, and both days he’s trotted me himself into there. It’s like he knows he’s got a bunch of fans, and he’s ready to show off.”
Kasey Perry-Glass was also near the top of the leaderboard on Goerklintgaards Dublet in sixth on 78.54 percent.
With Valegro retired, the world’s been wondering whether Mount St. John Freestyle would vault Dujardin back onto the podium after a year away from the world stage. If the team bronze yesterday wasn’t enough of a confirmation, her Special today wiped away any doubts. The mare floated through the U.S. Trust Arena, garnering comments of “beautiful” and “wow” from spectators sitting on the edge of their seats on their way to the bronze medal.
And their commentary was justified with a score of 81.48 percent.
“For me personally there weren’t any lows because I honestly can’t ask any more from her,” Dujardin said. “To have gone in that arena, I knew I had a tough [position]; I was the jam between sandwich with Isabell on one end and Sönke [Rothenberger] on the other. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to really up my game to come out and not look like I don’t know what I’m doing.’ So she really had to up her game, and we did. I thought her extended trots are incredible; the piaffe is there—it’s coming. She getting more and more confidence.
“Next year when she’s stronger and confident, I’m going to give Isabell a good run for her money; we’ll be back fighting,” she finished.
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We’ll be onsite for the full two weeks of WEG to bring you all the news you need to know plus gorgeous photos and insight into the competition. Be sure to check out the Oct. 8 issue of the Chronicle for detailed analysis.