The formbook was upset at the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Paris this afternoon (Friday, 13 April) as the US combination of Laura Graves and Verdades beat Germany’s Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD to top spot in the grand prix.
Laura has beaten Isabell once before — in Aachen last summer — but the German undoubtedly started as favourite.
But errors when Christine Arns-Krogmann’s 13-year-old black mare proved impetuous in canter brought Isabell’s score down to 78.26%, while Laura put in a personal best for 81.413%.
“It’s Friday 13th, it’s not my best day!” joked Isabell. “I hadn’t planned her to be so hot in the canter and it was a bit surprising for me. But it’s not serious, it happens. I hadn’t planned it like this, but tomorrow I will make it as hard as possible for Laura. I’ll take all the risks I can and I hope I can be more focused than today.”
Laura raised a laugh when she said it feels “very scary” to beat Isabell.
“She’s such a fierce competitor, I know she’s going to ride even harder tomorrow,” she said, adding that she was “super-pleased” with her test. “It was extremely clean and the judges agreed it was a personal best; there’s no better time for that to happen.”
Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl took third with 75.667% on the veteran Unee BB, who belongs to Beatrice Bürchler-Keller.
“I’ve heard a lot about this venue because my parents watched the World Cup final here about 20 years ago,” said Jessica. “They really enjoyed it and told me it was an amazing experience. It’s a beautiful arena and a special atmosphere.”
Britain’s Hayley Watson-Greaves took 11th on 69.829% with her own Rubins Nite. She is riding at her first World Cup final.
“I wanted to go in there and have a nice round and reduce the amount of mistakes I’ve had in the grand prix this season, said Hayley. “I was pleased he was very relaxed as he can get a bit hot in the atmosphere.”
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The results of today’s grand prix are used to split the riders into groups for tomorrow’s freestyle (2pm local time — 1pm in Britain) and Laura and Jessica performed the public draw after the press conference tonight. Laura will be the 14th rider to go, with Isabell 16th and Jessica the 17th and last competitor into the arena. The freestyle determines the World Cup final placings.
Check back later for an update on the showjumping World Cup final and don’t forget to pick up next week’s magazine for a full report from Paris.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.