World number one Isabell Werth pulled out yet another scintillating test with her brilliant partner Bella Rose 2 in the Tokyo Olympic dressage grand prix freestyle, scoring 89.657%. It wasn’t quite enough to overtake her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on TSF Dalera to take the individual gold, but the pair certainly gave their all in their quest.
Last night in the grand prix special to decide the team podium, Isabell won a record seventh gold. In the freestyle, she was bidding to add an individual Olympic title to the world and European crowns she already holds with this 17-year-old mare.
But after Jessica had posted 91.732%, the pressure was on Bella Rose 2 to produce a personal best in the twilight of her career. The mare gave her most expressive performance of the three tests in Tokyo just when it mattered. They posted a 95.886% artistic score, and 83.429% technical mark, to finish just over 2% adrift of Jessica.
“Bella felt fantastic tonight,” Isabell said. “When you are able to show what you wanted to show, and there is nothing better to present, then I’m satisfied. She was close, but not quite close enough.
“There’s not 10 winners, there’s only one and so we have to decide just one,” Isabell added. “It’s a sport and that’s what I enjoy. Sometimes you have that last point to win, and sometimes not.”
A stirring display in quest for Olympic gold
The Tokyo Olympics was the first time that Bella Rose 2 has been beaten in international competition since 2014.
The rousing operatic music suited the mare’s magnificent paces and brave extended canter. It was a stirring display with Bella vindicating Isabell’s decision to choose the mare because she always digs so deep.
Isabell also won individual silver in Rio, riding Weihegold OLD. She was last crowned Olympic champion in 1996, and few would bet against her returning in Paris for another attempt.
You may also like…
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.