FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Hat Trick for Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old

Gothenburg, Sweden – April 6, 2019 – For the third consecutive year, world No. 1 Isabell Werth of Germany and Weihegold Old captured the gold in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, held this year in Sweden at the 2019 Gothenburg Horse Show. The pair have continued to defend their title since first claiming victory in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2017 and remain unbeatable three years later. Following suit, Laura Graves (USA) earned runner-up honors for the third straight year behind Werth with Verdades, while fellow German athlete Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH produced an exciting grand finale performance to take home third place. Saturday’s competition was a good indicator of the growth of the sport as athletes continue to push boundaries and strive for higher marks with the top 10 finishers all receiving scores over 80 percent.

Second to last out of 18 starters, Werth and the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Don Schufro–Weihevoll, Sandro Hit), owned by Christine Arns-Krogman, performed a nearly perfect test in Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle, with the exception of a slight error in the one-tempis. However, her test was highlighted by Weihegold OLD’s explosive extended canter and pirouette, earning her the high mark of 88.871 percent.

Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD

During her fourth FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves laid down a fluid test in the second half of the class as 14th in the order with her and Curt Maes’ 16-year-old KWPN gelding (Florett As–Lilwilarda, Goya). Graves received the first 10 on the scoreboard of the day for her half-pass left and worked with her team, including her trainer and U.S. dressage technical advisor Olympian Debbie McDonald, to make some adjustments in the choreography of her Rocky freestyle in order to receive a higher degree of difficulty score, which featured double pirouettes straight into tempi changes. However, the changes to Graves’ program didn’t work so much in her favor and ended up costing her a couple of points. In the end, they were awarded an 87.179 percent from the judges, which put them in the lead for two tests but would eventually fall short to Werth once again.

Laura Graves and Verdades

Saturday’s podium finish was an emotional experience for Langehanenberg as the opportunity to compete in Gothenburg was hard-fought with a competitive German squad. Langehanenberg won the 2013 FEI Dressage World Cup title aboard Damon Hill, but she picked up the ride on Leatherdale Farm’s Damsey FRH a three years ago. The 17-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Dressage Royal-Ria Grande, Ritual) topped the qualification list for the Western European League this year. She and Damsey FRH have had their eyes set on qualifying for the final this year, since Langehanenberg was on maternity leave and unable to compete at the 2018 championship in Paris, France. Their choreography had a 10-point degree of difficulty score and at one point during the freestyle, the pair broke the 90 percent barrier but struggled with a few minor issues that dropped her score. They brought the house down in their final centerline where Damsey FRH found a new gear in his extended trot and nearly careened straight into the judge’s stand.

Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH

In addition to Graves’ performance, the American contingency gave it their all. Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, owned by Diane Perry, rode a very nice, fluid test to receive an 84.975 percent.

Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet

While Perry-Glass finished in fifth, her teammate, Adrienne Lyle earned a personal best score of 81.832 percent to finish seventh on Betsy Juliano’s Salvino. Lyle was proud of the stallion for performing so well at not only his first World Cup Final, but his first indoor show ever.

The U.S. riders are all coached by Olympian Debbie McDonald, the new U.S. technical delegate, who expressed how proud she was to see such talented and driven young women place so high at such a prestigious championship.

RESULTS: FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Grand Prix Freestyle:
Place / Athlete / Country / Horse / Owner / Total Score

1. Isabell Werth / GER / Weihegold OLD / Christine Arns / 88.871
2. Laura Graves / USA / Verdades / Laura Graves & Curt Maes / 87.179
3. Helen Langehanenberg / GER / Damsey FRH / Louise Leatherdale & Susanne Meyer / 86.571
4. Daniel Bachmann Andersen / DEN / Blue Hors Zack / Blue Hors Aps / 85.468
5. Kasey Perry-Glass / USA / Goerklintgaards Dublet / Diane Perry / 84.975
6. Patrik Kittel / SWE / Delaunay OLD / Patrik Kittel & Carol u Andrew / 82.464
7. Adrienne Lyle / USA / Salvino / Betsy Juliano LLC / 81.832
8. Emmelie Scholtens / NED / Apache / A. Valk / 80.782
9. Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén / SWE / Don Auriello / Lövsta Stuteri & Antonia Ax:son / 80.718
10. Hans Peter Minderhoud / NED / Glock’s Dream Boy N.O.P. / Glock HPC NL B.V.,J.T.M. Maree,Stal / 80.286
11. Judy Reynolds / IRL / Vancouver K / Joe & Kathleen Reynolds / 79.350
12. Benjamin Werndl / GER / Daily Mirror / Flora Keller / 79.118


Isabell Werth (GER) – 2019 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final champion

On her performance on Saturday:
“Today, I was as close to a perfect ride and then I was too arrogant in the one-tempis. It was that little mistake but the rest was perfect, really great. [The atmosphere] was really great! [The crowd] started to clap [at the end] and I was so happy. Today [Weihegold OLD] was perfect in piaffe-passage, extensions and pirouettes. Just the one mistake of mine but she deserves 90 percent. Thank you very much for this great atmosphere. It is always a pleasure to be here and to come here to this really exceptional show. Everybody is beatable. They all try and I’m sure there will come a day when this is the opposite but I try to fight and I am really proud of Weihegold today. It was nearly perfect, but we have to keep going to get that perfect ride.”

On the atmosphere:
“In the last centerline I really felt that they [the crowd] wanted to clap and once they started it gave me goosebumps down my arms! It was really great. It was a great atmosphere and a perfect show. It is always very emotional at the end, especially here in Gothenburg and they really love the horse sport. It is a pleasure to ride here and to have their support. All of us for the whole ride, it isn’t just for the Swedish or just for the number one, they are supporting all of the riders in this sport and it makes it really fun to come here.”

On the sport since her first World Cup Final win in Gothenburg:
“It has changed a lot. It has become so much more professional and when we look back to the first freestyle I made 20 years ago it was made by ourselves. Now we have such a professional team for just the music. There are also 10 horse more that are over 80 percent. I think when we won that first time it was with a 75 percent or something. We got better and the horses got better so we have a much better start. It is a really great improvement from all sides and we will have a lot of challenges in the future because it means we have a lot of duties and respect to keep for the horse so that in 20 years we allowed to sit on a horse and show this sport.”

On having the 17-year-old horses at World Cup Finals:
“This is really important because it means that dressage is keeping the horses fit and elastic. It shows a lot of really great potential as well.”

On what keeps her motivated:
“I love what I do. To go out into the stable and to go out and work with different horses and improve horses, in the end, it brings me great emotions and some great shows and competitions. There is no question of motivation. I really enjoy being competitive”

Laura Graves (USA) – Second place

On her test:
“It went super. I could not be more thrilled with my performance. I had a bit of an early draw and I knew I had to give it everything. He is a horse that you can’t push too hard — he has enough tension on his own, so I have to play that card really carefully. We made a couple of adjustments to our program that worked in our favor. The music, thanks to Terry Gallo, was spot on and I am so glad we decided to do that.”

On the future:
“After this we will have a conference with our team, Debbie McDonald, our vets and the staff at USEF and we will kind of come up with a game plan. We usually have three or four because those plans change all the time, but looking forward to potentially having a horse for Tokyo means that we will be very careful with him this year. However, I have a feeling in my gut that I am already hungry for Las Vegas next year!”

On the level of competition:
“The competition is incredibly high. I know it is possible [to get the top spot]. It is all just fractions of points and it is so close on the podium. It makes it so much more exciting. The second I got off of my horse and found out I had lost the title I was already thinking ‘Ok, next World Cup. What am I going to do for Las Vegas?’”

On Verdades:
“It is our duty to take care of these horses and we hope that we do that with grace and respect for them so that is kind of what I do every year. Although, he gives me the feeling now that I will have to pull the plug on him maybe before he is mentally or physically ready, just to be smart because he will never stop. If anything his age has been a helpful thing. He never puts a foot wrong when you ride him. He loves his job and is very respectful of me but on the ground, in the barn, he knows he is the boss.”

On her test:
“From the second I went in, from start to finish, I also had a little hiccup in my one-tempi changes. We have made some little changes in the choreography and the music so that maybe cost me a couple of points. He was so rideable and I was just really thrilled with his focus and his energy. The crowd was amazing. They have this live ticker of a score and as riders, you think it is going pretty good but you hope that the judges are agreeing with them. To hear the crowd clapping along you think ‘Well, at least everyone is enjoying it as much as I am’ and that is really special.”

On her plans for the future:
“My horse will get a break. We have had a very long trip here and a long trip home. We do have to keep him fit at this age so we will meet with the U.S. team and see what the best plan is for him. If there is a chance of having him for Tokyo I will have to be very smart with him. It is clear he knows and loves his job so we will only do what’s best for him.”

Helen Langehanenberg (GER) – Third place

On Damsey FRH:
“I have always believed in this horse. I have a very special relationship with him and he is an absolutely special character. I have him on my side and to end up here, third, with a personal best was amazing. He was so energetic and when the audience started clapping I really had no idea how to stop [for the final halt]. He was so on the floor and it is great to see that he is so fresh and he loves to do this. I had a little tear in my eye up there already. It was fun! I went in and I said ‘enjoy, just enjoy.’ Do it for you, for it for Damsey, or do it with Damsey. We did this for us and we enjoyed it, we enjoyed the audience, and hopefully the judges as well. I think this was the best we can do and it worked.”

On her test:
“I am absolutely proud. This is a very special horse and I am proud that he did this today. He did this the whole winter season for me and with me. I am so thankful that I can ride him and that we can do this together and have this experience with this horse. It makes me very thankful and proud that I got this horse as a 14-years-old and every year he has just felt younger and young.”

On her struggle to stop for the last halt:
“I think he went with the flow! He liked it and then the audience started to clap and he thought ‘Ok, now we start again!’ He knows that the freestyle ends there but I think that [the clapping] motivated him so he thought we would just go again! It shows that they [the horse] like it and after a journey and doing tests here it great to see them fresh.”

On her plans for the future:
“Damsey will get a break now. He had a long winter season. It was hard to qualify for coming here, especially for the Germans. We will continue when the summer season ends and see what we can do.”


Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) – fifth place

On her test:
“He felt really good. I feel like he was a little tired today but he had a long trip and it was a busy week so I can kind of expect that from him. He was really good and very honest in everything he did and I am just very proud of him.”

On her preparation for World Cup Finals:
“I do a lot of AquaTred with him. It keeps him out of the arena, which he really loves. I try to keep things very fresh for him with a lot of trail riding and a couple of days a week with Debbie working on the movements. He is a hay dunker so when I travel I try to give him a hay bucket for him so that he can dunk his hay in it. He also gets a lot of bran mashes and bananas and everything he loves. I try to keep things as normal as possible.”

On her overall experience:
“It has been an amazing week and all of us girls have done such a great job and we represent the U.S. really well. It was such a pleasure to be here. All of the fans were amazing and very welcoming and the finals were run perfectly. I felt very honored to be here.”

Adrienne Lyle (USA) – seventh place

On the atmosphere:
“I had a wonderful time. That is by far the most fun venue I have ever ridden at. The crowd is awesome, I came in right after Patrik Kittel, home town hero, and the crowd erupted and Salvino’s ear went up but he didn’t put a foot out of place. It is a really fun crowd to ride to. They are clapping at the end and everyone is getting into the performance today.”

On her test:
“I love the way it ends with the passage. I think it really builds and the music is really powerful. We wanted something that was very uplifting and powerful music but that was also harmonious and graceful. This is only my third time ever riding this freestyle so every time you go in there is a little bit of timing. Today he was little more forward so I actually had to go deeper into the corners so that I didn’t get ahead of my music where usually I am trying to catch up, so that was interesting but I liked that we were going more forward and had a little more power. I am super thrilled with him. This is just the start for this horse. I have tremendous belief in his talent and I think he is just going to keep getting better.”

On Team USA:
“It is so fun to be here! All three of us are coached by Debbie McDonald who is amazing. I have been with her for a long time and I know this is a personal dream of Debbie’s as well so it is really cool to watch it play out for her.”

On her overall experience:
“It has exceeded my expectations. I had always heard about this show but the people, the venue, the hospitality and the crowd really set it apart from any other venue I have been to.”

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed