Gothenburg, Sweden—April 6
Life is a game of inches, but dressage is a game of percentage points. In the case of today’s FEI World Cup Dressage Final freestyle, it was a game of one percentage point—the number that gave Germany’s Isabell Werth a fifth World Cup title (88.87%) and relegated Laura Graves to second (87.17%) for the third time. This was Werth’s third consecutive World Cup title, and her second in a row with Weihegold OLD.
“ ‘Weihe’ was really fantastic, I have to say,” said Werth. “Really, she deserves it. It was nearly a perfect test, and I was a bit too arrogant at end with the one tempis. But then on the last centerline, the public, they really started to clap, and it was like goosebumps on my back. It was a great atmosphere, and it was a very perfect show for me.
“It’s always very emotional here,” she continued. “[The crowd] really loves it, and they love horses, and it’s a pleasure to ride in here and to have the support for all of us—not just for Swedish riders or the No. 1 [rider]. They are supporting all riders in the sport. It makes it really fun to come here.”
Graves also had a small mistake in her one-tempi changes with Verdades, who was second in Friday’s Grand Prix as well.
“I was thrilled, from the second I went in, from start to finish,” she said. “We made a few changes in our music and choreography, and that maybe cost me a couple points, but he was so rideable, and I was thrilled with his focus and energy.”
All three U.S. riders finished well within the top 10, with Kasey Perry-Glass earning fifth on Goerklintgaards Dublet (84.97%) and Adrienne Lyle earning seventh with Salvino (81.83%). The young crew—all three are younger than 35—trains with Debbie McDonald, who’s now also the U.S. Dressage Technical Advisor.
“He felt really good,” said Perry-Glass of “Dublet.” “I feel like he was a little tired today, but he had a long trip, and it was a busy week, so I can kind of expect that from him. He was really good and very honest in everything he did, and I am just very proud of him.
“It has been an amazing week, and all of us girls have done such a great job, and we represent the U.S. really well,” she continued. “It was such a pleasure to be here. All of the fans were amazing and very welcoming, and the finals were run perfectly. I felt very honored to be here.”
Lyle left the ring with a giant grin after her test.
“I had a wonderful time!” she said. “That is by far the most fun venue I have ever ridden at. I came in right after Patrik Kittel, hometown hero, and the crowd erupted. Salvino, his ears went up, but he didn’t put a foot out of place. I think he’s enjoying this indoor stuff. It was a really, really fun crowd to ride to. They were clapping at the end; everyone is getting into the performances today.”
And indeed one horse got so into his own performance today that he nearly took out the judge at C, Magnus Ringmark. Helen Langehanenberg had to hit the brakes hard on Damsey FRH after the stallion decided to continue at extended trot a bit too long, just barely stopping his front hooves at the dressage ring railing. The pair took third on an 86.57 percent.
“It was very exciting,” said Ringmark. “I trusted Helen up until now, but now I’m not so sure. I thought he was coming into my lap. It was fun.”
See full results from today’s Grand Prix freestyle. You can also read more information about this year’s World Cup schedule and see all of the Chronicle’s coverage.