In 2017 Laura Graves (USA) did what few dressage riders have been able to achieve. She and her horse Verdades beat the most dominant rider in the history of the sport, Isabell Werth (GER) on her birthday at Aachen in the Grand Prix. The Grand Prix at Aachen determines what riders will make it to the Freestyle, the ultimate prize. There is probably nothing scarier that facing down Isabell when she has been beaten, but Laura Graves was undaunted. However it was not to be, with just one misstep in a canter pirouette, her score fell short slightly to finish second.
Then again at the World Cup Final, Graves had to settle for second best.
This year, the Freestyle is on Laura's Birthday, is another Aachen birthday win in her future?
Question: What distinguishes Aachen for you?
Laura Graves: Aachen is always very special for me. It is the most demanding show in the world, the best and strongest riders compete here. That is what I look forward to seeing most, how we stand. Aachen is of course great preparation for the World Equestrian Games.
Question: What are your expectations here?
Laura Graves: Of course, we travel everywhere with the aim of winning. That is also what I hope to do in Aachen. We actually managed to do that in one competition last year and we had a good result at the World Cup Final in Paris. Verdades is in very good form, there is no reason why I we couldn’t pull it off again in Aachen.
Question: Last year you succeeded in beating Isabell Werth in one competition…
Laura Graves: It was a very special day, and it was also my birthday – a fantastic feeling! This year the freestyle competition falls on my birthday, let’s see, perhaps that will be my birthday present this year.
Question: To take the victory you will have to beat in particular Isabell again.
Laura Graves: Yes, I think so. I was rather disappointed when I read that Cosmo and Sönke Rothenberger can’t compete. I like to have the strongest components and I believe that especially Cosmo is a horse that is in top form at the moment. Now we will have to wait for Tryon to take them on. But our immediate challenge is to primarily beat Isabell.
Question: What makes Verdades so special?
Laura Graves: I have had him in my yard my whole life. He knows me and I know him. Inside out. That makes our job easier under pressure.