Photo FEI/Liz Gregg

Isabell Werth has won her fourth FEI World Cup Dressage title in the 2018 finals in Paris, riding her seasoned campaigner Weihegold OLD.

Dramatic battle

The finals saw a dramatic battle between Isabell and America’s number one Laura Graves, who won the grand prix on the opening day riding the 16-year-old Verdades. This meant Isabell had to dig deep in the title-deciding freestyle to music and — in a re-run of the 2017 result — the defending champion used all her skill and experience to push her rival into second place.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” said Isabell. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly.

“It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best — you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do.”

‘Huge personal best’

The competition went right down to the wire, as Laura posted a massive score of 89.082% in the freestyle, which she admitted surprised her.

“I knew anything was possible,” she said. “I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me.”

Even the slightest error would put Isabell out of contention, and she produced a stunning test with Weihegold to score a winning 90.657%.

“This is life, a lot of people think it’s easy, you win and you win again, but it’s not like that,” said Isabell. “You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse.”

German domination

The result was another reminder of the resurgence of German domination in dressage as Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) were third and fifth respectively.

Sweden’s Patrik Kittel (Deja) just missed a place on the podium, finishing fourth. Britain’s Hayley Watson-Greaves came a very respectable 11th with Rubins Nite, scoring 75.346% in the freestyle.