‘It’s right to retire her at the top’: Isabell Werth on Weihegold’s retirement plans and her best memories of the brilliant black mare

  • On Saturday night at the FEI Dressage World Cup Final, Isabell Werth will ride her last test with the little black mare who has brought her so much success over the past decade, Weihegold OLD. The 17-year-old Don Schufro x Sandro Hit daughter, who is owned by Christine Arns-Krogmann, will be retired after the grand prix freestyle.

    Weihegold and Isabell finished third in the short grand prix on the opening day of the World Cup Final, scoring 79.76%, and Isabell said she felt “pleased and proud” of how the mare performed in her final grand prix.

    “It is really difficult for a horse who has done maybe 100 normal grands prix to change a do a short grand prix, but she was super. We had just one tiny short change at the beginning [of the line of tempis], the rest – the pirouettes, the piaffe-passage – was really good so I’m completely happy,” said Isabell.

    After her retirement, the plan is for Weihe to become a broodmare. She has already produced several offspring by embryo transfer, among them three licensed stallions including the Totilas son Total Hope OLD.

    “She will go to have a foal and hopefully she will get a lot of years with a few babies,” said Isabell, who has recently spoken of her own plans surrounding her retirement from the sport.

    Weihe has been a fabulous partner for Isabell over the years, contributing seven medals to Isabell’s impressive haul of 50, including Olympic team gold and individual silver in Rio, as well as three back-to-back World Cup victories in 2017, 2018 and 2019. So, what are Isabell’s standout memories of the mare among all the glittering success?

    “There are so many that stand out – of course Rio, but also Gothenburg: the European Championships and the great battle between Sönke [Rothenberger] and me,” Isabell told H&H, thinking back to her triple gold in 2017, with her teammate snapping at her heels in both the special and the freestyle but never quite managing to surpass her. “ There was just so little difference between us. And the whole time Weihe was really fantastic and amazing. I’m very proud of her.”

    With her fellow German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on top form with another super mare, TSF Dalera BB, Isabell will have her work cut out trying to add another World Cup triumph to Weihegold’s record in Leipzig. But the most important thing for her is for Weihegold to have the chance to bow out on home soil at the top of her game, with fans present to witness her swansong, and that will certainly be the case.

    “It is a pleasure to be here with a sold-out crowd – it’s just great to be able to retire her not in an empty arena,” said Isabell. “I hope we can show a good test on Saturday night like she deserves. I will try to enjoy it; of course I have the pressure to show her as best as possible, more so as it is her last one. But it is the right time. I don’t want to be in the situation where other people say, ‘Oh she looks a bit tired now’. She is in top shape right now and it is the right time to retire her at the top, when she could still do a few tests instead of when she has had enough.”

    The grand prix freestyle will start in Leipzig, Germany, on 9 April at 7.10pm (6.10pm BST).

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