Saturday 01 April - 23h14 | Lulu Kyriacou
Third Title For Werth
Despite the best efforts of Laura Graves and Carl Hester who finished second and third, the FEI Reem Acra World Cup Dressage title for 2017 went to the hot favourites Isabell Werth and Weihegold.
Laura Graves and Verdades were the first to really throw down a challenge to the German favourite when they scored 85.289% after a powerful test which showed excellent piaffe and passage but was particularly impressive in the half passes which showed great expression and flexibility.
Carl Hester and Nip Tuck could not quite match the American's performance despite some impressive technical movements such as 20 one time changes on a curved line. 83.614% was still a decent score but with three more top riders to come including Isabell Werth, the British number one must have realised his chances of a podium finish had diminished.
Edward Gal rode with his usual grace and finesse on Glock's Voice and his extended trot work was certainly beter than Hester's but the difficulty of the test did not seem as high. A little tension in the walk took the marks down as did a lack of fluency in the canter pirouette to the left. Gal, though, never looked like challenging Graves for the lead on his tenth World Cup appearance and 79.011 was not even good enough to take third.
Judy Reynolds (Vancouver K) of Ireland had the highest degree of difficulty of any competitor but began with a mistake in her initial movements of tempi changes down the centre line. There were other mistakes, including in the transitions from piaffe to passage but her difficulty rating was over 90% so even only scoring 75% should have been enough to take her above Hester and Graves. Reynolds was close but the mistakes cost her and she scored 79.386, which meant Hester would be third at worst.
Dressage fans held their breath as Weihegold made their entrance. Any mistakes would give America the title. But the German began with flawless piaffe and passage transitions that scored her over 88% for technical and the combination never looked back. relaxed and happy they made no mistakes in movements like 19 one time changes and pirouettes in piaffe. The mark reflected their absolute authority. 90.704% was five percent better than her nearest rival. Even that margin was not really a reflection of their superiority. Werth has now won the title on three occasions. Werth was seen leaping for joy in the collecting ring after her test!
"Today was brilliant. It was my goal all season to bring my best test here and it worked. I didnt see Laura's test as i was on my horse but i heard the score and I knew she was fighting for it and that it was clear I had to take the risk and ride my best test. It is a partnership, that you work towards, you have to feel what the horse is feeling. Today i had a great time. I know what it is to be downstairs in this sport, I am just happy I am upstairs right now!"
Werth who won her first tile in 1992, then delighted the crowds by opening her champagne on the podium and giving all the other two riders and all three of the grooms on the podium a celebratory swig!
The judges were completely agreed about the top three placings and the full result is here