Isabell wins with her “very best”

Isabell Werth and Weihegold were in a class of their own (Image: Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI)

As if to further cement their absolute supremacy, the world no. 1 partnership of Germany’s Isabell Werth and the fabulous mare Weihegold secured their third win of the FEI World Cup Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League in Amsterdam today. Having produced a personal-best score to top the line-up at the second leg of the series in Lyon in October, they fell just short of that when also winning the next round in Stuttgart the following month. Today’s freestyle mark of 90.720 per cent is the highest ever achieved by Isabell, who has also won more Olympic medals than any other rider.

Runners-up were the winners of the previous leg at London Olympia: Great Britain’s Carl Hester and Nip Tuck, while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel produced an inspired ride with the delightful mare Deja to slot into third. Dutch riders filled the next five places, headed by 2010 FEI World Cup Dressage champion Edward Gal, who was fourth with Glock’s Voice, and Hans-Peter Minderhoud with Glock’s Flirt, the current World Cup title-holders, fifth.

Edward was first to post a score over 80 per cent when 11th to go of the 15 starters. Next into the ring, Hans-Peter looked set to overtake him with some wonderful work from his 16-year-old ‘Flirty’ until it fell apart for pair in the closing stages. Patrik Kittel’s test just bubbled with exuberance as his magical mare danced to the strains of Stevie Wonder to go out in front with a mark of 80.269 but then, with consummate ease, Isabell raised the game with a performance that was in a class of its own. She said afterwards that this was her “very best freestyle”, and that’s quite a statement from the six-time Olympic gold medallist who took the first of her two FEI World Cup titles back in 1992.

The roars of approval for her score were still ringing out as, last to go, Carl Hester entered the arena with Nip Tuck who gave him “the nicest feeling I’ve had in a test with him – ever!”, posting 83.325 for second spot.

But it was Isabell who stole the hearts of the crowd who gave her, and her 12-year-old mare, a very noisy standing ovation. “I’m so happy, this is our best form ever and I hope to save that for as long as I can! We are becoming safer with the music, more confident and together with it; this was really a perfect day!” she said. She has now moved to the top of the Western European League table ahead of Carl Hester in second and Ireland’s Judy Reynolds in third, and looks a hot favourite for the title when the series Final gets under way in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) in eight weeks’ time.

 Result: 1, Weihegold Old (Isabell Werth) GER 90.720; 2, Nip Tuck (Carl Hester) GBR 83.325; 3, Deja (Patrik Kittel) SWE 80.269; 4, Glock’s Voice (Edward Gal) NED 80.425; 5, Glock’s Flirt (Hans Peter Minderhoud) NED 79.610; 6, Apache (Emmelie Scholtens) NED 78.016; 7, Cennin (Madeleine Witte-Vrees) NED 77.649; 8. Zippo (Patrick van der Meer) NED 75.320; 9, Tiamo (Jorinde Verwimp) BEL 75.095; 10. Zaire-E (Jessica von Bredow-Werndl) GER 75.055; 11, Foco Loco W (Borja Carrascosa) ESP 74.170; 12, Rustique (Mai Tofte Olesen) DEN 72.399; 13, Don Gregorius (Inna Logutenkova) UKR 71.121; 14, Amorak (Stephanie Brieussel) FRA 68.904; 15, Lorenzo (Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez) ESP Elim.

Isabell Werth GER (1st): My mare will have a little break now and in the meantime I will try to qualify Johnny (Don Johnson) or Emilio so I have a second choice of horse if I need one for the Final.”

Ground Jury President, Mariette Sanders van Gansewinkel: “This was a great competition and an amazing day! The competition level was extremely high but Isabell was exceptional. And this is an amazing show with a great atmosphere and a sellout crowd.”

Edward Gal NED (4th): “The first day (yesterday’s Grand Prix) is always hard because the horses are sharper but today was much better, my horse felt good and I’m very happy. I will now compete at Den Bosch for sure, and maybe Gothenburg, because I’d like to make it to the Final.”

Patrik Kittel SWE (3rd): “M mare was absolutely fabulous and I love competing here! I think today was the strongest field of the World Cup qualifiers so far.”

Carl Hester GBR (2nd): I always save everything for one day, I had to be reserved yesterday (in the Grand Prix). I had a great feeling today when we came into the arena and the crowd went crazy because of Isabell’s score – I just thought I might as well just go for it!”

Standings following Round 6 of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED):

1.    Isabell Werth GER            –    60

2.    Carl Hester GBR            –    54

3.    Judy Reynolds IRL            –    45

4.    Kristy Oakley AUS            –    44

5.    Fabienne Lutkemeier GER        –    41

5.    Marcela Krinke-Susmelj SUI        –    41

7.    Inna Logutenkova UKR        –    39

8.    Jessica von Bredow-Werndl GER    –    37

8.    Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez ESP    –    37

10.    Madeleine Witte-Vrees NED        –    35

10.    Mai Tofte Olesen DEN            –    35