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Perfect Beginning for Jessica von Bredow-Werndl

Friday, April 8, 2022
Posted by Patricia Salem for FEI
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FEI WORLD CUP 2022   |   FEI WORLD CUP

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All the action from Leipzig...

Cathrine Dufour and Vamos Amigos
Cathrine Dufour and Vamos Amigos

Germany’s Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl made a dream start to her quest for a first FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final victory as she led the way in the opening round.

Earning a score of 84.793 percent with TSF Dalera BB in the Short Grand Prix, the Olympic and European champion is hoping to add a new title to her trophy case.

Second place on Thursday went to Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Vamos Amigos, who scored a personal best of 80.019 percent. The defending champion, Isabell Werth of Germany, made it a trio of personal bests, with marks totalling 79.765 aboard Weihegold Old, who will be retiring after this year’s World Cup.

Fans who filled the Leipziger Messe for the first day of Dressage competition were hoping to see a showdown between the current Olympic gold medallist and the World Cup champion. Von Bredow-Werndl would like to make it more of a banner year for her before she takes time off for a second child expected in August.

And Werth, the most decorated Dressage rider of all time, is shooting for a record fourth consecutive World Cup title, as well as the first championship win on home soil, which would be a fitting send-off for her long-time partner Weihegold.

The audience got all they hoped and more, treated to an incredible line-up of Dressage performances, with many personal bests and a level of competition not yet seen in the series.

Short Grand Prix

Seventeen riders representing 12 nations had a turn in the arena to be evaluated by seven international judges. The Short Grand Prix test is only four and a half minutes long, but it’s full of places where any rider can lose points and see their hopes dashed.

As well as performing all the required elements correctly, riders and their mounts must demonstrate self-carriage of the horse, strong partnership, fluid movement, seamless transitions, and maintaining a desired frame in both extended and collected gaits.

At the break half-way through the programme, Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Atterupgaards Orthilia were at the top of the leaderboard on a score of 75.752 percent. Great Britain’s Charlotte Fry and Dark Legend were in second on 73.365 percent, chased by Morgan Barbançon of France and Sir Donnerhall II OLD, with marks of 71.936 percent.

Merrald’s leading score held until Carina Cassøe Krüth of Denmark picked up a score of 75.094 percent with Heiline’s Danciera. Sweden’s Patrik Kittel tried to top their marks with Blue Hors Zepter, and whilst their 74.662 percent wasn’t quite enough, it was a personal best for the pair.

Next up, Isabell Werth showed why she’s the holder of seven Olympic gold medals, among many other honours, turning in a gorgeous test with 17-year-old Weihegold for 79.756 percent.

Werth said: “I’m really happy. She was fantastic. I’m very proud for the last Grand Prix.” Happy to be back to performing for a crowd after several years with limited spectators and no World Cup Finals, Werth waxed emotional when thinking about her Oldenburg’s final rides.

Last Performance

Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old
Isabell Werth and Weihegold Old

Lamenting that she was both “laughing and crying,” with no chance to do the test better another time, she added: “That’s what makes it very special for me. On Saturday [Weihegold’s last performance in the Grand Prix Freestyle] it will be quite hard.”

Others in the second half of the evening tried to top Werth but failed, including Ashley Holzer of the USA (72.519 percent, a personal best with Havanna 145), former World Cup champion Helen Langehanenberg of Germany (75.019 percent with Annabelle), and Alisa Glinka of Moldova (70.639 percent aboard Aachen).

However, Cathrine Dufour pulled out all the stops on her test and wound up with both a personal best with Vamos Amigos at 80.019 percent and the top spot on the leaderboard for the moment.

“He was really super, super cool down there. He felt electric!” she gushed about her Westphalian partner, who is only 10 years old. "It was so fun, and I’m really proud that such a young horse could do a test like that.”

Dufour’s time on top was short lived, though. Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera soon pulled off another one of their effortless-looking tests that showcased Dalera’s elegant way of moving and ultra smooth transitions. With a score of 84.793 percent, also a personal best, the pair ended the day in first, well poised to take home the gold when Dressage resumes again on Saturday.

Thrilled

The German champion was thrilled with the results and became teary when talking about her Trakhener mare. “It’s difficult to find better words than what I’ve said about this horse. She does her best every time!”

Von Bredow-Werndl pays little attention to the crowd until her test is over, putting all her energy into her partnership with Dalera. She commented that her horse had that perfect mix of “on fire but still focused and concentrating” that all Dressage riders crave. She’ll definitely be looking to replicate that feeling on Saturday.

At the close of the night, Merrald ended the day in fourth place, followed by Cassøe Krüth, Langehanenberg, Kittel, Fry, Holzer, and Barbançon in the top 10.

Will defending champion Isabell Werth overcome Von Bredow-Werndl for Weihegold’s goodbye performance, or will the FEI Dressage World Cup™ crown a new leader? Stay tuned to FEI TV to find out!

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