The 29-year-old German rider proved she’s one to watch after the biggest win of her career. 

It wasn’t by the widest of margins, but Katharina Hemmer & Denoix PCH’s score of 73.826% was good enough to top an all-German podium on Friday morning during the CDI 5* Grand Prix at the International Festhalle Horse Show Frankfurt.

Not only that, they did it by beating out not one but two multiple Olympic gold medalists, each of whom, like Hemmer, was mounted on an 11-year-old horse.  

The first was the reigning queen of German dressage, seven-time Olympic gold medalist Isabell Werth, who’s won this very class no less than five times. Riding the up-and-coming Hanoverian mare, SuperB 2, Werth finished on a score of 73.217%. Olympic eventer-cum-five-star-dressage-rider Ingrid Klimke rounded out the podium with First Class 92, her partner of less than a year, on a score of 70.826%.

According to Hemmer, Denoix hasn’t shown at Frankfurt in four years, since he first competed in the Burgpokal as a seven-year-old. “[He] has never experienced an indoor tournament before,” Hemmer explained, adding that both she and the stallion were taken aback by the electric atmosphere at their first outing in Stuttgart last month. 

“We learned our lesson from it, and arrived in Frankfurt extra early on Wednesday. So we were able to ride in the hall in peace and quiet, which was just right. And today’s Grand Prix wasn’t just a personal best in terms of the grades, it also felt like our best Grand Prix so far,” she said.

Denoix is co-owned by German Olympic Team gold medalist Hubertus Schmidt and American Nancy Gooding (owner of Plum Creek Hollow in Larkspur, Colorado), who purchased him as a four-year-old in 2016.

As the longtime student and assistant trainer for Schmidt’s Fleyenhof stables, Hemmer officially took over the reins on Denoix in April of this year, after her coach retired from competition due to health concerns.

With another indoor round under their belts, it’s likely that all three horses—with the possible addition of German team rider Benjamin Werndl’s Famoso—will be more accustomed to the arena energy in Frankfurt and in improved form for Saturday morning’s Grand Prix Special. Best believe that Werth, at the very least, will be gunning to upset the podium, and it will likely take some doing for Hemmer to hang onto her lead.

The good news? If the newcomer had hopes of stepping into the big leagues, she can rest assured; Hemmer has certainly arrived.