Four years ago, Germany’s Isabell Werth started her World Equestrian Games campaign on the mare she deems her best horse ever, Bella Rose. Aged just 10, the elegant Belissimo M mare posted a 81.53% grand prix to finish second to Valegro in Normandy 2014, but then disaster struck and the mare was withdrawn from the rest of the Games due to an injury.

Fast forward four years, and this entrancing chestnut, owned by Madeleine Winter-Schulze, is finally back on the scene, despite many doubting whether she would ever be seen in an arena again. Isabell and Bella have swept the board during their competitive comeback this summer, and, with Isabell having made clear Bella was her personal choice ride for the 2018 WEG, they now prepare to start their Games campaign in Tryon, North Carolina, tomorrow.

“Choosing Bella Rose [as my preferred ride] was not a decision against my other horses, Emilio and [triple European gold medallist] Weihegold,” says Isabell. “It’s just that Bella Rose is my dream horse — she is just outstanding — and to bring her back to a championship has been my dream for the past four years.

“We have taken it slowly, and done things step by step during her recovery — she is full of temperament so its been hard to keep her calm during those years.

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Having sailed through the trot-up earlier this morning (picture, above), Bella Rose will not only help Germany attempt to defend their team gold, but is also one of the strongest contenders for the individual gold medals.

“She just has everything: charisma, power, elegance, lightness — she combines all the best things of all my other horses,” continues Isabell, who first saw the mare at her breeder’s as a three-year-old and admits to being smitten with her at first sight.

“The atmosphere here won’t be a problem for her, but I will have to calm her down and keep her concentrating,” the world number one says, also adding that Bella is going better now than when she was last on the world stage four years ago. “We’re all just getting older and more experienced.”

The first day of grand prix competition gets under way today (12 September) at 8.45am local time (1.45pm UK time).

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