by Louise Parkes
Defending series champions, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) and her magical mare Weihegold OLD, cruised to victory at the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2017/2018 Western European League in Amsterdam (NED) this afternoon. The dynamic duo floated through their Freestyle test to post 88.540, almost a full percentage point more than their winning score at the third leg of the series on home ground in Stuttgart in November.
The capacity crowd packed into the RAI Arena included stars of many other sports along with Dutch royal family member Princess Margarita, Countess of Colorno, who is a Board Member of the show organisation, Jumping Amsterdam. But it was the German Dressage queen who claimed centre stage when pinning the home side’s Edward Gal (47) with Glock’s Zonik into second, and her compatriot, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (31), into third with Unee BB.
"Weihe was really fantastic today, I can’t describe the feeling of this power and collection, she’s like a metronome - we can do whatever we want! The atmosphere in the arena was electric so I had to be careful because she was very hot. She produced really magnificent piaffe/passage, but I stopped breathing in the collected walk because she was SO ready for the canter!"
Isabell Werth GER (1st)
Last to go she was chasing the super leading mark of 81.860 produced by Gal and his exciting young stallion who really settled to his job today. “It’s five weeks since we finished third at Olympia (London) and there is a visible improvement” said the man who claimed the FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 2010 with the great Totilas. This was just the third Freestyle test for the 10-year-old Zonik. “He’s getting stronger and stronger and more motivated, suddenly we are making big steps forward and I have high hopes for him for the future!” he added.
As Werth rode into the arena, her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl was just leaving after posting an impressive 81.195 with Unee BB who couldn’t take his eyes off Weihegold. “The older he gets the more powerful he gets - I think he’s going through a second youth, he certainly had plenty of extra energy today!” said von Bredow-Werndl of her 17-year-old stallion. And today’s result has moved her up to second place on the Western European League leaderboard behind Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who once again wowed the crowds with a great performance from Deja to finish fourth.
As title defender Werth doesn’t earn points at the qualifiers but must compete in at least two legs of the Western European League with the horse she intends to take to the Final in Paris in April and with two in the bag, and both winning ones, with Weihegold she is now turning her attention to her back-up ride, Emilio who topped the line-up in Lyon in November. “Obviously Weihe is my first choice, but Emilio will go to the last two qualifiers in Gothenburg (SWE) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED)” she explained. She’s missing the next leg on home ground in Neumunster in three weeks’ time due to another commitment but she has her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title clearly in her sights.
Asked today how she is feeling ahead of the 2018 Final which will take place in the French capital from 10 to 15 April she replied, “I’m happy but I never say I’m confident, that’s not my way. This is sport, you never know what’s going to happen so you always have to stay awake!”