by Louise Parkes
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 (NED) today. Having produced a personal-best score to top the line-up at the second leg of the series in Lyon (FRA) in October, they fell just short of that when also securing pole position at the next round in Stuttgart (GER) the following month. Today, however, their Freestyle mark of 90.720 percent is the highest ever achieved by the 47-year-old rider who is widely acclaimed as the most medalled equestrian Olympian of all time.
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 up by 2010 FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion Edward Gal who slotted into fourth with Glock’s Voice and 2016 title-holders Hans-Peter Minderhoud and Glock’s Flirt in fifth.
Gal was first to post a score over 80 percent when 11th to go of the 15 starters. And, next into the ring, Minderhoud looked set to overtake him with some wonderful work from his 16-year-old gelding until it fell apart for this pair in the closing stages. Kittel’s test just bubbled with excitement 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, Werth 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, 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 Werth who stole the hearts of the crowd who gave her, and her 12-year-old mare, a 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. Werth has now moved to the top of the Western European League table ahead of Hester in second and Ireland’s Judy Reynolds in third, and the German rider looks a hot favourite for the title when the series Final gets underway 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.
Detailed result here
Facts and Figures:
The RAI Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands staged today’s sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Western European League.
The Ground Jury members were: At E, Monique Peutz (NED); At H, Susanne Baarup (DEN); At C, Marietta Sanders van Gansewinkel (NED); At M, Andrew Gardner (GBR); At B, Raphael Saleh (FRA).
15 horse-and-rider combinations from 9 countries competed including the no. 1 partnership in the world rankings, Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold.
The German duo produced their third win of the current series when Werth, the most medalled equestrian Olympian of all time, posted a personal-best score of 90.720.
The world no. 5 partnership, Carl Hester and Nip Tuck from Great Britain, who won the previous leg at London Olympia (GBR) in December finished second while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Deja lined up in third place.
9 horse-and-rider combinations from the Western European League will qualify of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2016/2017 Final which will take place in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) from 27 March to 2 April 2017.
There are three further qualifying rounds in the Western European League series, the next at Neumunster (GER) on Sunday 19 February, the following in Gothenburg (SWE) on Friday 24 February and the last at ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) on Saturday 11 March.
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 alway 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 though 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
Full standings here
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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 (NED) today. (Arnd Bronkhorst/FEI)