Dressage

Round I Goes to Werth, But Graves Isn’t Backing Down

© FEI/Liz Gregg

“Gothenburg holds great memories for me,” said Isabell Werth (GER).

It was in the Swedish city some 27 years ago that the reigning world #1 posted her very first ever FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final win with Fabienne.

Now the most decorated athlete in the history of equestrian sport, Werth’s international career is the stuff of legend—and it will be for decades to come. This week, in her 17th World Cup Final appearance since 2000, she’s writing the latest chapter in that spectacular story as she chases a third consecutive, and fifth overall, World Cup title.

And the plot is unfolding in her favor.

Before a sold-out crowd in Scandinavium Arena, the six-time Olympic gold medalist seized the lead in the Longines FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final on Friday with her winning Grand Prix performance aboard Weihegold OLD. Eleventh to take to the arena, she and the 14-year-old black Oldenburg mare posted a score of 81.755%.

But the story is far from over.

USA’s Laura Graves is looking to oust the defending double-champion. A small mistake with Verdades in extended trot put them a final score of 80.109%, just behind Werth.

“I can feel the breeze on the back of my neck!” admitted the German.

And a determined Graves is not backing down.

“I’m incredibly hungry to be at the top of the podium and I’ll do my very best tomorrow,” said the World #2. “I know there is a real chance, I believe in this horse—he’s 17 but in the best shape ever!”

Can Werth capture the title in Sweden again 27 years later? Will Graves finally get her gold?

“Tomorrow is a whole new game,” said Werth, “We will have to wait and see….”