Isabell Werth has added a second gold medal to her ever-growing collection, with a superb performance on Bella Rose to take the Grand Prix Special at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, on an mammoth score of 86.246%.
Her scoresheet was sprinkled with 9s and 10s, especially for the final piaffe and passage tour, and for the rider mark.
In a repeat of the team podium places, the USA’s Laura Graves took silver on Verdades, but from just a tiny margin (0.228 of a penalty) from Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin with her exciting new Mount St John Freestyle; an outstanding achievement for a nine-year-old mare in just her first season of Grand Prix.
Germany’s Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo were unlucky to finish just out of the medals, just 0.212 behind Charlotte.
Isabell’s test was once again flawless. “I felt so safe on her and so happy the whole time.
“She’s got so much energy and she’s so patient too, it’s always great to go in with a horse when you know there’s a chance [of gold] because horse is so good, and it’s up to you if you can show it in the right way, and that was the case.
“From the start I felt she was full of power and from that first extended trot I felt wow, she wants to go. I didn’t think her half-passes could be better, or her piaffe.”
Laura says riding in the extreme heat again was a real test of character for the horses. “When you’re looking at scores this high, the test from start to finish has to be pretty flawless, and I’m lucky to be on horse who wants to do his job, especially in this heat. I think it really shows the character of horse that when you ask, they show up for you.”
Meanwhile, Charlotte was stunned with her mare’s medal-winning performance. “I couldn’t have asked for any more from her, she’s only 9, and it’s her third-ever Grand Prix Special. Yesterday I rode a little bit safe, as it was so hot and I didn’t want to push her and frighten her, so I thought I’d give her an easy ride. Today I felt I had nothing to lose, so I’d go in and see what happens. She upped her game, and took that challenge on, she just delivered.
“Her extended trots were incredible and the piaffe is coming; next year when she’s stronger and more confident I am going to give Isabell a run for her money!”
The top 12 riders now go forward to the freestyle, after a day off, and it was Australia’s Kristy Oatley who just squeaked in for 12th place, scoring 74.605% on Du Soleil, fractionally ahead of tow Spanish riders on identical scores, Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Claudio Castilla Ruiz.
The other riders in the freestyle are Swedish trio Patrik Kittel, Juliette Ramel and Therese Nilshagen, Great Britain’s Carl Hester, American Kasey Perry-Glass, Edward Gal from the Netherlands and Germany’s Dorothee Schneider.