German superstar, Isabell Werth, produced a personal-best Freestyle score of 90.09 to win the second leg of the FEI World Cup Dressage Western European League at Lyon in France. The 47-year-old rider and her 11-year-old mare simply blew the competition away with an outstanding performance that seemed to take even Isabell herself by surprise.
The pair who claimed team gold and individual silver at the Rio Olympics were always favourites, especially after winning yesterday’s preliminary Grand Prix. But the scale of today’s victory was exceptional. “I was expecting she could do a super job, but to get more than 90 per cent, now that was amazing! She has really improved since Rio!” Isabell said.
Britain’s Carl Hester and his Olympic ride Nip Tuck finished second with a big score of 85.02, while defending FEI World Cup Dressage champion, Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED), slotted into third with Glock’s Johnson on a mark of 80.22. In an all-German battle for fourth it was Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Zaire-E who edged out birthday girl Fabienne Lutkemeier and D’Agostino FRH by just 0.01 when posting 79.63, while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and his mare Deja filled sixth place on 77.97.
Patrick led the 15-strong field at the halfway stage, but once Isabell set sail with four left to go, the result never seemed in any doubt, with Weihegold’s confidence and self-carriage complementing her delightful passage, piaffe and pirouette.
It all seemed effortless, and as she left the arena, Isabell – a six-time Olympic gold medallist – had the broadest of smiles. “Since Rio my mare has even more power and more muscle, and I know we can be even better. I need a few more competitions to make it really come together but it’s so exciting!”
Carl Hester joked that he felt he had a great chance now that his protegee, Charlotte Dujardin, has retired Valegro. “I thought this season might be my opportunity, but now that Isabell is getting so much better it’s going to be a tougher fight!”
The nine-leg series moves to Stuttgart in Germany next month.
- Weihegold OLD (Isabell Werth) GER 90.09;
- Nip Tuck (Carl Hester) GBR 85.02;
- Glock’s Johnson TN NOP (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 80.22;
- Zaire-E (Jessica von Bredow-Werndl) GER 79.63;
- D’Agostino FRH (Fabienne Lutkemeier) GER 79.62;
- Deja (Patrik Kittel) SWE 77.97;
- Ricardo (Karen Tebar) FRA 76.68;
- Smeyers Molberg (Marcela Krinke-Susmelj) SUI 76.47;
- Imperio (Hubertus Schmidt) GER 76.15;
- Badinda Altena (Pierre Volla) FRA 74.80;
You can watch Isabell’s test on replay on this link.
CDDF at Manfeild, New Zealand
Meanwhile, in Manfeild, Manawatu, there has also been some classy dressage. Wendi Williamson has been putting in great performances lately, and Saturday in Feilding was no exception. She won the Keiffer/Equiscan CDI-W Grand Prix Musical Freestyle on Dejavu MH on a score of 72.95%, with John Thompson on JHT Antonello (71.175%) second and Abbie Deken on KH Ambrose third on 70.525. The other four in the class were all in the 60% range.
Penny Castle won the Zilco National Grand Prix Freestyle on BL About Time with 65.25%. Andrea Martin and Hawkstone Sandringham were second (64%) and Kate Tobin on I Like it third (62.65%).
Lucarne Dolley and Devil’s Chocolate scored 71.6% to win the Heritage Equine CDI-Y Musical Freestyle from Sophie Griffith on Frangelico F (67.3%). Fürst Jupp and Tessa Van Bruggen were third on 64.475%.
The dressage competition concludes today.