Gothenburg, Sweden – April 6, 2019 – For the third consecutive year, world No. 1 Isabell Werth of Germany and Weihegold Old captured the gold in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final, held this year in Sweden at the 2019 Gothenburg Horse Show. Following suit, Laura Graves (USA) earned runner-up honors for the third straight year behind Werth with Verdades.
Second to last out of 18 starters, Werth and the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Don Schufro–Weihevoll, Sandro Hit), owned by Christine Arns-Krogman, performed a nearly perfect test in Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle, with the exception of a slight error in the one-tempis. However, her test was highlighted by Weihegold Old’s explosive extended canter and pirouette, earning her the high mark of 88.871 percent.
During her fourth FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves laid down a fluid test in the second half of the class as 14th in the order with her and Curt Maes’ 16-year-old KWPN gelding (Florett As–Lilwilarda, Goya). She received the first 10 on the scoreboard of the day for her half-pass left and she was thrilled with Verdades’ focus and energy in the Scandinavium arena. Graves worked with her team, including her trainer and U.S. dressage technical advisor Olympian Debbie McDonald, to make some adjustments in the choreography of her Rocky freestyle in order to receive a higher degree of difficulty score, which featured double pirouettes straight into tempi changes. However, the changes to Graves’ program didn’t work so much in her favor and ended up costing her a couple of points. In the end, they were awarded a 87.179 percent from the judges, which put them in the lead for two tests but would eventually fall short to Werth once again.
Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet, owned by Diane Perry, rode a very nice, rhythmic test to receive an 84.975 percent. While Perry-Glass finished in fifth, her teammate, Adrienne Lyle earned a personal best score of 81.832 percent to finish seventh on Betsy Juliano’s Salvino. Lyle was proud of the stallion for performing so well at not only his first World Cup Final, but his first indoor show ever.
The U.S. riders are all coached by Olympian Debbie McDonald, the new U.S. technical delegate, who expressed how proud she was to see such talented and driven young women place so high at such a prestigious championship.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Laura Graves (USA) – Longines FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle second place
On her test:
“It went super. I am really pleased. We are watching Isabell [Werth] go now and she is not known for letting any points get away from her so I don’t expect that she will tonight. I could not be more thrilled with my performance. I had a bit of a n early draw and I knew I had to give it everything. He is a horse that you can’t push too hard, he has enough tension on his own, so I have to play that card really carefully. We made a couple of adjustments to our program that worked in our favor. The music, thanks to Terry Gallo, was spot on and I am so glad we decided to do that. I love Sweden!”
“I was thrilled. From the second I went in, from start to finish, I also had a little hiccup in my one tempi changes. We have made some little changes in the choreography and the music so that maybe cost me a couple points. He was so rideable and I was just really thrilled with his focus and his energy. Like Isabell said, the crowd was amazing. They have this live ticker of a score and as riders, you think it is going pretty good but you hope that the judges are agreeing with them. To hear the crowd clapping along you think ‘Well, at least everyone is enjoying it as much as I am’ and that is really special.”
“Like Isabell said, it is our duty to take care of these horses and we hope that we do that with grace and respect for them so that is kind of what I do every year. Although, he gives me the feeling now that I will have to pull the plug on him maybe before he is mentally or physically ready, just to be smart because he will never stop. If anything his age has been a helpful thing. He never puts a foot wrong when you ride him. He loves his job and is very respectful of me but on the ground, in the barn, he knows he is the boss.”
To the USET Foundation:
“Big thank you to the USET. It is because of you that we can travel the world and present our horses and we are so proud to fly the American flag. Even though you guys might not be here with us in Sweden, you really are. Thank you for your support.”
On her plans for the future:
“My horse will get a break. We have had a very long trip here and a long trip home. We do have to keep him fit at this age so we will meet with the U.S. team and see what the best plan is for him. If there is a chance of having him for Tokyo I will have to be very smart with him. It is clear he knows and loves his job so we will only do what’s best for him.
“After this we will have a conference with our team, Debbie McDonald, our vets and the staff at USEF and we will kind of come up with a game plan. We usually have like three or four because those plans change all the time, but looking forward to potentially having a horse for Tokyo means that we will be very careful with him this year. However, I have a feeling in my gut that if I don’t take the title this year I am already hungry for Las Vegas next year!”
Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) – fifth place
On her test:
“He felt really good. I feel like he was a little tired today but he had a long trip and it was a busy week so I can kind of expect that from him. He was really good and very honest in everything he did and I am just very proud of him.”
On her preparation for World Cup Finals:
“I do a lot of AquaTred with him. It keeps him out of the arena, which he really loves. I try to keep things very fresh for him with a lot of trail riding and a could of days a week with Debbie working on the movements. He is a hay dunker so when I travel I try to give him a hay bucket for him so that he can dunk his hay in it. He also gets a lot of bran mashes and bananas and everything he loves. I try to keep things as normal as possible.”
On her overall experience:
“It has been an amazing week and all of us girls have done such a great job and we represent the U.S. really well. It was such a pleasure to be here. All of the fans were amazing and very welcoming and the finals were run perfectly. I felt very honored to be here.”
Adrienne Lyle (USA) – seventh place
On the atmosphere:
“I had a wonderful time. That is the by the most fun venue I have ever ridden at. The crowd is awesome, I came in right after Patrik Kittel, home town hero, and the crowd erupted and Salvino’s ear went up but he didn’t put a foot out of place. It is a really fun crowd to ride to. They are clapping at the end and everyone is getting into the performance today.”
On her test:
“I love the way it ends with the passage. I think it really builds and the music is really powerful. We wanted something that was very uplifting and powerful music but that was also harmonious and graceful. This is only my third time ever riding this freestyle so everytime you go in there is a little bit of timing. Today he was little more forward so I actually had to go a little deeper into the corners so that I didn’t get ahead of my music where usually I am trying to catch up, so that was interesting but I liked that we were going more forward and had a little more power. I am super thrilled with him I think this is just the start for this horse. I have tremendous belief in his talent and I think he is just going to keep getting better.”
On Team USA:
“It is so fun to be here! All three of us are coached by Debbie McDonald who is amazing. I have been with her for a long time and I know this is a personal dream of Debbie’s as well so it is really cool to watch it play out for her.”
On her overall experience:
“It has exceeded my expectations. I had always heard about this show but the people, the venue, the hospitality and the crowd really set it apart from any other venue I have been to.”