Rotterdam, Netherlands – Aug. 23, 2019 – In a mighty battle between two of the sport’s true greats, Isabell Werth, recognized as the reigning Queen of international dressage, won once again in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Thursday.
Two years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden, Werth pushed teammate Sönke Rothenberger into the silver medal spot, and this time around it was her other German compatriot, Dorothee Schneider, who had to settle for second place. Schneider chased her right to the line with a brilliant performance from Showtime FRH, and was overwhelmed with emotion afterwards.
“This is the greatest day of my life, my first individual medal!” said the double-Olympian. “I had one mistake in the flying changes because I lost a stirrup – I have to talk to my trainer about doing some lunging again! I’ve been riding this horse for 10 years now and he is so amazing. I’m really proud to be sitting in second place tonight behind Isabell!”
Schneider established the lead with just five left to go on a mark of 85.456 percent but Werth overtook her with another of her show-stopping rides on the mare she most adores, Bella Rose 2, posting the winning score of 86.520 percent.
“I know that with Bella Rose everything is possible and it is up to me to make it happen,” commented Werth on the winning ride. “The piaffe-passage could not be better than it was tonight, the feeling was outstanding and the atmosphere was really special!”
Bronze went to Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, the pair who also put themselves on the podium in the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the 2017 European Championships. Dufour posted an 81.337 percent just before Schneider came into the ring but the typically modest Danish rider didn’t think that was good enough for a podium placing and headed back to the stables with her little chestnut gelding only to get the call to return to the arena.
“I didn’t think I would get a medal so I told my groom to unplait him, so we had to put the plaits back in again – it was a bit of a surprise – but I’m so happy with Cassidy, he’s now 16 but he’s in such great shape!” she said.
Proving age is but a number to the horses competing this week, Judy Reynolds and her 17-year-old gelding Vancouver K gave the Irish team reason to celebrate when they separated the two remaining members of Tuesday’s gold-medal-winning German team, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who slotted into fourth with TSF Dalera BB and Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo who were bumped to sixth place. Scoring 78.252 percent, Reynolds finished fifth and set her second Irish record score of the week having helped secure an Olympic team qualifying spot for her country with another brilliant performance on Tuesday.
The evening’s competition had a real buzz about it and the Judge at C, Susanne Baarup, said the Ground Jury enjoyed every moment of it. “It was an amazing class and also very exciting to judge because a lot of riders had problems in there. I think as a judge, it’s very emotional, we get goose-bumps, and we give 9s and 10s and we think my god where do we end here! It’s really just the small details that separate the riders. We talked afterwards and said we want to do it again, we want to see them again, and of course we will do that on Saturday in the Freestyle, and we are really looking forward to it!”
Results: FEI Grand Prix Special (Individual)
1. Isabell Werth / GER / Bella Rose 2 / 86.520
2. Dorothee Schneider / GER / Showtime FRH / 85.456
3. Catherine Dufour / DEN / Atterupgaards Cassidy / 81.337
4. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl / GER / TSF Dalera BB / 78.541
5. Judy Reynolds / IRL / Vancouver K / 78.252
6. Sönke Rothenberger / GER / Cosmo / 78.116
7. Gareth Hughes / GBR / Calssic Briolinca / 78.085
8. Edward Gal / NED / Glock’s Zonik N.O.P. / 77.994
9. Carl Hester / GBR / Hawtins Delicato / 77.508
10. Daniel Bachmann Andersen /DEN / Blue Hors Zack / 77.234
11. Patrik Kittel / SWE / Well Done de la Roche CMF / 77.052
12. Juliette Ramel / SWE / Buriel K.H. / 76.003
Watch highlights here