In 1991 in Donaueschingen Isabell Werth won her first gold medal in the Grand Prix Special at the EC. In the meantime the competition was discontinued as deciding competition at the EC, but after its reinstatement further titles followed for Werth – and now another. She and 12-year-old Oldenburger mare Weihegold OLD by Don Schufro-Sandro Hit won gold with 83,613 percent. “Weihegold is in best form ever. The first piaffe could have been better, I was too careful because I didn’t want to risk too much and so I thought that I’d rather do less instead of making a mistake – and it was still good enough.”
However, the decision was close and the greatest opponent came from her own ranks. Sönke Rothenberger and only 10-year-old KWPN gelding Cosmo by van Gogh-Frühling were on the heels of Werth and Weihegold. With 82,479 percent they were not far off – and chief judge Francis Verbeek van Roy even saw the pair in first place. A small mistake in the flying change in the transition after the strong canter was the only thing to criticise. “It’s a little bit like juggling with plates when you’re on that level,” Rothenberger said, happy about his silver medal. “I need to learn how to keep all the plates up. That’s what Isabell is so good in.” He knows that he has the potential to be the best. “I know my horse can beat everyone. That’s what I knew from day one. But it is something else to deliver at exactly the right moment.”
Bronze went to Danish Cathrine Dufour with 14-year-old Danish gelding Atterupgaards Cassidy. The young rider and the Caprimond-Donnerhall son have developed from the young riders to the world elite. 79,762 percent were their reward for a great performance. “Today he was more relaxed and so I was able to risk more.”
German national coach Monica Theodorescu was happy about gold and silver. “It can’t get better. Except for the first piaffe Weihe was very good. Today the trot was completely relaxed and swung through her body even though it is not her highlight. Cosmo has an exceptional trot and canter, but the mare shows more quality in the collected movements. The result is certainly not false. Sönke rode his best Special ever today. It was good and he was very precise. The horse is an airplane. You can feel that they’re growing together as a team.”
For the other two German participants the competition was less fortunate. Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr. by San Remo-Wenckstern was the first rider to compete for Germany but in the first Pirouette and the last piaffe the 11-year-old Bavarian gelding fell into trot. They finished in twelfth place with 73,249 percent. “We need to show a more constant performance,” so Schneider said. “We came into the team with lightning speed and we need to enjoy this. He has all possibilities, everybody can see that.” Directly after her performance Schneider said: “I will travel home satisfied.” However, now she has to postpone her journey home. After her performance everyone thought Helen Langehanenberg would be better – and only three of a nation are allowed to ride the freestyle. But Helen Langehanenberg also had a severe glitch with her 15-year-old Hanoverian stallion Damsey FRH by Dressage Royal – Ritual. The stallion tensed in the first piaffe and kicked – which resulted in a 3- and the transition into passage fell apart completely and was awarded a 2. This resulted in 70,756 percent and place 21. “It seems we had a big problem,” the rider said calmly. “I already lost him in the awards ceremony for the team. He became more tense and tense and I thought he would bolt. And yesterday I thought: “oops, what’s that? He just wasn’t optimal. In the walk tour I could not get him before me and than it happened.” Monica Theodorescu said: “It seemed that Damsey had decided that for him the event is already over.”
Tomorrow in the freestyle Germany will represented by Isabel Werth, Sönke Rothenberger and Dorothee Schneider (from 2.30 pm). Possible candidates for the medals are Werth, Rothenberger, Dufuor and Swedish Therese Nilshagen, who was placed fourth with Dante Weltino OLD a 10-year-old Oldenburger stallion by Danono-Welt Hit II.