The FEI Dressage World Cup is over before it even started for Isabell Werth. The German dressage champion, who was a hot contender for the title, decided to withdraw her mount, Antony FHR, after he failed the vet inspection on Tuesday 19 April.
Antony — who has competed in more World Cups than any other horse — had looked fine while training a few hours earlier, but he was not right during the trot-up. He was the only horse in the field not to pass the first vet inspection and was due for re-inspection on Wednesday morning. However, a subsequent check by German team vet Bjorn Notling revealed that the 19-year-old Hanoverian gelding may have strained a suspensory ligament during training or immediately afterwards.
After discussing the situation with Notling, Werth decided to withdraw her horse to avoid compromising his welfare. “The World Cup should have been Antony’s parting shot,” she said in a statement. “But his health comes first. Therefore we decided not to let him start.”
Antony is about to retire and Werth, who could have brought either him or Satchmo to Las Vegas, chose to give her veteran gelding a last chance to shine. She is now out of the World Cup and her place has been filled by Canadiar rider Evy Strassner.
“Of course we are very disappointed because [the World Cup] should have been Antony’s farewell tour,” says Uta Helkenberg of the German Equestrian Federation. “It has been a very long trip [to Las Vegas] and not to be able to compete [after such a journey] is very sad for both him and Isabell.”
Meanwhile, the drawn order for the show jumping competition has been released and lady luck is smiling on Werth’s compatriot Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. She will be the last to go in the speed competition, which opens the Cup on Thursday evening and will be crucial to gain a good place on the leaderboard. In a quirk twist of fate, her husband, Marcus, will be the first into the ring ahead of the 40-strong field.
The British contingent has had mixed fortunes in the draw. Richard Davenport, sixteenth into the ring, will have a lot of strong starters following him. Michael Whitaker fared somewhat better and will be just over half way through at number 25. Nick Skelton is the luckiest of the lot and will be third from the end, just before reigning champion Bruno Broucqsault, from France, and Michaels-Beerbaum.