Isabell Werth was ecstatic with the performance of her favourite mare, Bella Rose 2, after the German dressage team clinched gold at the Tokyo Olympics. The world number ones are the reigning world and European champions and will be all out to add the complete set with the individual Olympic title in tomorrow’s grand prix freestyle (Wednesday, 28 July).
In the grand prix last weekend, the 17-year-old chestnut topped her group on plus 82% but some of her work looked a little more laboured than we are used to seeing from this brilliant combination, with a mistake in the pirouette. Today, by contrast, she was scintillating, setting the scene from the start with a 10 for her first piaffe.
“She was just a bit more tense on the first day,” explained Isabell. “She was in top form, but I had to deal a bit with her temperament. That’s also an advantage. She is 17 but you could say she is 12. She wants to go, and sometimes she needs a bit of time to cope with the situation. Today she was relaxed and felt really super.”
“I thought she should score 88%!”
Isabell’s devotion to this mare, who is by Beliissimo M x Cacir AA, is palpable. She has other, younger horses coming up through the ranks – but Bella Rose holds a special place in her heart.
“I love this horse and I hope she loves me too,” she said. “It’s such an amazing feeling – all riders who know how difficult it is to build up a horse to this point know how I feel – it’s a gift.”
Never mind that this grand prix special test scored only 1% higher than the grand prix, Isabell knew what she had achieved.
“I’m so proud of Bella, she was fantastic,” she said. “I felt [the score would be] more than 88%! It was one of our best tests and I think she deserves a better mark, but it is like it is. I’ve been in the squad long enough to deal with it and cope with it.”
Isabell’s team gold medal is her seventh – a new record for Olympic golds won in a single discipline. And she’s not done yet – with Bella just settling into her stride, she’ll be pushing for the top of the podium tomorrow.
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