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Werth takes GP Special gold

Isabell Werth and Bella Rose, gold medal winners in the Grand Prix Special - © Mcihelle Terlato

Isabell Werth and Bella Rose, gold medal winners in the Grand Prix Special.

© Michelle Terlato

 

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Aussies in action: Kristy Oatley and Du Soleil scored 74.605% in the GP Special to finish 12th and qualify for the Freestyle!

 

Isabell Werth of Germany won another gold medal Friday aboard her 14-year-old mare Bella Rose at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina, taking the Grand Prix Special test on day two of Dressage.
 
Werth executed a near-immaculate ride, edging out second-place finisher Laura Graves of the USA by almost five percent with a score of 86.246 to Graves’ 81.717.
 
Just behind was Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, who secured her first major podium with new partner Mount St John Freestyle with a score of 81.489 percent.

After Germany took Team gold on Thursday, Friday was an opportunity to fight for GPS medals and a place in Sunday's Freestyle event.

 

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The top 15 finishers of 30 who came through from the Grand Prix on Day One get to advance to Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle and another medal round, with a maximum of three riders per country permitted to compete.
 
Both the weather and the test were factors in Friday’s event. The warm, humid air in the arena was unfamiliar to many of the European riders and their mounts.
 
Spencer Wilton of Great Britain actually withdrew before competition, after feeling his horse Super Nova II wasn’t in perfect health to perform the Special, which is the most difficult of all Dressage tests.
 
It’s not just the length of the Special that catches riders out, although it’s certainly a factor in three days of world competition. The test features the most challenging transitions in Dressage, such as going from a walk straight into piaffe, and calls for a horse that can handle enormous range.

 

The Grand Prix Special podium, L-R: Laura Graves (silver), Isabell Werth (gold) and Charlotte Dujardin (bronze) - © Michelle Terlato

The Grand Prix Special podium, L-R: Laura Graves (silver), Isabell Werth (gold) and Charlotte Dujardin (bronze).

© Michelle Terlato


 
Werth’s horse was definitely up to the task, and the duo demonstrated literally perfect transitions in some elements, as well as a bold extended canter, effortless passage, and textbook supple half passes.
 
Graves’ horse, Verdades, showed exceptional pirouettes, exemplary bend in the half pass, and clean, balanced transitions for a well-deserved silver medal.
 
Going into the interim break at midday, the podium was up for grabs, and the morning class couldn’t be ruled out yet. Kristy Oatley of Australia, one of the earliest riders of the day, turned in a stellar ride at 74.605 percent, and held the lead until the afternoon.

Right behind her were Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Claudio Castilla Ruiz, both of Spain and both tied at 74.103. In fourth place was Judy Reynolds of Ireland, who executed a clean, upbeat program for 73.997 percent.
 
All of the morning’s top four will advance to Sunday’s competition. Reynolds’ inclusion will be the first time ever an Irish rider has made it to a WEG Grand Prix Freestyle, and no doubt her nation will be cheering extra loudly for her.
 
As Friday afternoon continued, the leaderboard switched with nearly every rider. Patrik Kittel of Sweden set the bar high with a score of 79.726. Would it be enough to snag a medal?
 
Alas, no, as Kittel had to settle for fifth place, behind Germany’s fourth-place Sönke Rothenberger, whom the seven judges awarded 81.277 points.
 
The crowd held its breath for Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin. While Dujardin holds the world record for the highest Grand Prix Special score at 88 percent, her mare Mount St John Freestyle is a young nine years old and only made a Grand Prix debut in April.
 
The British duo came through with an expressive ride, putting the Hanoverian’s huge extended trot and superb lift in the passage on display for 81.489 percent and what would ultimately be the bronze medal ride after Werth’s test.

Dujardin was enthused by her partner’s performance and sent a warning to her rivals.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from her,” Charlotte said. “She’s only 9 and it’s her third GPS.
 
“I had nothing to lose, I went in there and saw what happened and she upped her game and took that challenge on. She’s a fighter and she just delivered!
 
“When she’s stronger and confident I’m going I give Isabell a run for her money - we’ll be back fighting!”
 
In addition to the competitors above, the following riders will be moving on to Sunday’s Grand Prix Freestyle: Kasey Perry-Glass of the USA, Edward Gal of the Netherlands, Juliette Ramel of Sweden, Carl Hester of Great Britain, Therese Nilshagen of Sweden, and Dorothee Schneider of Germany, who finished between sixth and 11th places, respectively.
 
Will Isabell Werth be able to repeat Edward Gal’s record of winning three golds in Lexington eight years ago? Tune in to FEI TV for day three of Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ on Sunday from 8:20am EST (1:20pm BST / 2:20 CET)
 
Text by Patricia Salem

Source: FEI press release

 

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