Aachen, Germany—July 22
The spectators clapped in rhythm, owner Madeleine Winter-Schulze wiped a tear from her eye, and Isabell Werth clenched her fist in triumph. She celebrated an amazing freestyle routine with Emilio in the finale of the CHIO Aachen Deutsche Bank Prize.
Today’s triumph was the 12th in her career in the Deutsche Bank Prize, and Emilio the fourth horse that she has steered to victory in Aachen. Werth left the dressage arena with the 12-year-old Westphalian on the horse’s personal best score of 87.62 percent.
Watch their freestyle, courtesy of ClipMyHorse.TV.
Second place went to the U.S. rider Kasey Perry-Glass with her Danish-bred Goerklintgaards Dublet on 85.20, followed by teammate Laura Graves with Verdades (85.08%).
It was quite a comeback for Werth, as she started the week with a subpar Grand Prix test, only to triumph in the Special and then hit a career-high with Emilio in the freestyle. Emilio seemed to gain confidence and courage from movement to movement and danced in harmony to music by Beethoven, Puccini and Verdi, which in spite of it being almost 90 degrees in the shade caused a goosebump shiver to crawl down one’s spine. As the bay horse passaged down the final centerline, the crowd started clapping to the music, Werth lifted a hand off the reins and continued the last few meters to the salute one-handed. She had hardly come to a halt before thunderous applause broke out. So light, so harmonious, that’s what dressage is about!
Up until now Graves has been Werth’s most serious rival, beating her in the Grand Prix test earlier this week with Verdades. But Graves felt the pressure today from her own compatriot Perry-Glass—both train with Debbie McDonald—as she put in a fantastic freestyle to score a personal best.
“After I saluted, I knew it was a really good test,” said Perry-Glass. “He was very with me and really wanted to show that he’s up there with the top horses.”
Watch highlights of Perry-Glass’ ride, courtesy of USA Dressage.
Perry-Glass competed in Europe for the first time in 2016 and caused a stir with her elegant dark bay. However, their performances in 2017 didn’t match expectations, so after Aachen, she gave him a long break.
“He needed it and so did I,” Perry-Glass said. “We changed the training around, didn’t drill the movements as much, and made the training more diversified. And it paid off because he came back stronger.”
U.S. rider Adrienne Lyle also qualified for the freestyle with Salvino and danced to 10th place, scoring 78.92 percent.