What a ride! An electric atmosphere and stellar performances by previous riders pushed Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD to their utmost best resulting in an amazing winning score of 90.704. Werth’s technical scores soared as she performed difficult movements with panache. Her top creative score was a shocking 97.400. Friday a ceremony for 14 Grand Prix riders that had achieved a score over 80% was held. Now it seems there is a new high – the 90’s club. The crowd cheered with appreciation of Weihegold’s beautiful performance. Whether you were a horseman or not, the excellence was easy to see. Werth smiled as she rode and said she felt safe as the horse was focused and giving her best.

Laura Graves & Verdades AKA “Diddy”

On the podium a bottle of champagne was presented and for a bit of fun Werth shook it and sprayed Carl Hester then Laura Graves. Laughing they each took a sip of champagne and Werth also gave each groom a sip as well. For a moment it looked as if Verdades, Laura Grave’s horse, wanted champagne too! During the press conference following the event Werth thanked the entire team from grooms to owners. She also thanked the organizers and all involved in making the World Cup 2017 such a great show. Riders, grooms, judges and all involved have expressed praise for the CenturyLink facility and Lisa Roskens and her team for a well organized and great production.

Riding before Carl Hester and Isabell Werth, Laura Graves and Verdades performance brought the crowd to their feet as Verdades was definitely on and had a breathtaking animated spirit and flair. With a score of 85.307 it seemed they would certainly win. Graves felt that she had won, despite coming in second place as being second to Isabell Werth, the world’s number 1 ranked dressage rider, was a win in itself. Laura said the musical program they rode in Rio at the Olympics was the same except they changed the finale coming down the center line with an extended trot – and the crowd loved it! Laura is such an impressive rider, a petite quiet rider aboard a massive Verdades , it is truly a thrill to watch. Anne Gribbons, one of seven judges, commented that Verdades is not an easy horse to ride, a little spooky, but that he trusts Graves and will do whatever she asks him to do. It is that relationship that makes such a successful partnership.

Carl Hester & Nip Tuck

Carl Hester and Nip Tuck were indeed nipping at Laura Graves heels with a score of 83.757 putting them in third place. Hester said it was his favorite test with Nip Tuck as the horse did his very best and gave his maximum. And now after a great season of competition Nip Tuck will have a well deserved rest. The horse has been a little off his feed with anxiety and the groom has been hand feeding him, which Hester says takes quite a bit of time. The folks at the press conference laughed imagining that it would certainly take a great bit of time to feed such a big horse.

Despite the feelings of competitiveness among the riders, great sportsmanship, camaraderie, and respect for each other were displayed.

By Peg Fairfield