Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD Win FEI Grand Prix at World Cup Finals Omaha 2017

U.S. Rider Laura Graves was second and Great Britain's Carl Hester was third.

Isabell Werth, the most decorated rider in Olympic history, captivated the crowd at the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017, winning the FEI Grand Prix competition at the CenturyLink Center on Thursday. Riding her Olympic mount Weihegold OLD, Werth rode to an impressive score of 82.300%, the only entry to score above 80 per cent.

©Susan J. Stickle

Werth, with the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare that she rode to team gold and individual silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is seeking a third FEI World Cup™ title in Omaha after having won at Gothenburg in 1992 and then in Las Vegas in 2007.

“Today I was well prepared, but you never know what can happen. It was expected that Weihegold could get 80%, but you never know. I was very happy,” said Werth. “She felt tense when she came into the arena because the atmosphere was so electric and there was big applause when Laura finished. I had to be a bit careful at first, there was a slight mistake in the two tempis (changes of lead every two strides), but it was definitely my fault, it’s always the rider’s fault. I felt safe after the two tempis and forgot to continue to concentrate, but the rest of the test was fantastic. I am completely happy with today.”

©Susan J. Stickle

Hot on their heels was U.S. rider Laura Graves and Verdades, scoring 79.800%. The Rio Olympic Bronze medalist was equally pleased with her performance and that of her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood even though they stood in the runner-up position.

“Basically I came here to win and finishing second to Isabell still feels a lot like winning,” said Graves. “I thought he was really, really honest. I made a couple of unfortunate mistakes. I think we would have been a little closer to Isabell’s score. It was mostly rider error. I didn’t know what to expect. I actually cannot watch my own class, it makes me too nervous.  I didn’t see the crowd or the stadium full of people, so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s super fun to ride in the World Cup™, the crowd sounds louder and you can feel them riding with you. There’s nothing like riding in a World Cup and I am very much looking forward to Saturday.”

©Susan J. Stickle

Great Britain’s Carl Hester and Nip Tuck tucked in just behind for third scoring 76.671%. The test seemed to go as expected for Hester. “The first day test for him was not bad. The first day is generally hit and miss and I always say, well, whatever happens on the first day is OK because he’s normally great on the second day. I like to ride him conservatively on the first day, conservative and nice. It was a great ride. I am really happy with him. I don’t expect to be too far behind on Saturday.”

The scores from the Grand Prix do not carry forward. The 14 riders receiving scores above 60% moved forward to compete in Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Final, the Dressage Freestyle to Music, which will determine the Champion of the 2017 FEI World Cup Final.

FEI Grand Prix Results

1. Isabell Werth (GER) – Weihegold OLD – 82.300%
2. Laura Graves (USA) – Verdades – 79.800%
3. Carl Hester (GBR) – Nip Tuck – 76.671%
4. Edward Gal (NED) – Glock’s Voice – 74.485%
5. Judy Reynolds (IRL) – Vancouver K – 74.442%
6. Madeleine Witte-Vrees (NED) – Cennin – 73.900%
7. Kasey Perry-Glass (USA) – Goerklintgaards Dublet – 73.828%
8. Steffen Peters (USA) – Rosamunde – 72.257%
9. Inessa Merkulova (RUS) – Mister X – 71.928%
10. Kristy Oatley (AUS) – Du Soleil – 71.828%
11. Marcela Krinke-Susmelj (SUI) – Smeyers Molberg – 71.528%
12. Mai Tofte Olesen (DEN) – Rustique – 69.757%
13. Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (BRA) – Xama Dos Pinhais – 68.214%
14. Maria Florencia Manfredi (ARG) – Bandurria Kacero  – 66.500%
15. Hanna Karasiova (BLR) – Arlekino – 58.885%
16. Wendi Williamson (NZL) – Dejavu MH – elim

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