PARIS, France--Laura Graves on Verdades beat German superstar Isabell Worth in the Grand Prix at the World Cup, puttingher in the lead for the title goinginto Saturday's Freestyle.
Graves has been threatening the supremacy of Werth for some time and April 12, when it really mattered, the American pinned the most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris.
Riding her beloved gelding Verdades, Graves was runner-up to Werth and her brilliant mare Weihegold at the 2017 Final in Omaha a year ago, and a few months later they actually beat the German duo on Werth’s home turf in Aachen, so there was always a question about whether they could do it again.
GRAVES WON with a personal-best winning score of 81.413 with a performance that showed everything that’s great about a long-established partnership.
But when Graves was asked at the evening’s press conference how it felt to have Werth sitting beside her in second place, she replied, "it feels very scary, especially with such a fierce competitor because I know she’s going to ride even harder tomorrow!"
She’s probably right about that.
Werth didn’t flinch when asked what it was like to be runner-up for once.
"Well since we are in France I just say, c’est la vie!” she said.
But all joking apart you could tell that today’s defeat may well be turned to her advantage, because this is a lady with ice in her veins.
She had to follow the US rider into the ring so the pressure was on, and although Weihegold’s piaffe and passage work was as spectacular as ever there was a lack of concentration and the mare didn’t respond to her rider’s leg aids as she normally would in canter.
“It’s nothing serious, it happens and it makes it quite exciting! I didn’t plan it like this, but we will try to make it as hard as possible for Laura tomorrow!” Werth said after posting a mark of 78.261.
German riders Jessica von Bredow-Werndal with Unee BB and Dorothee Schneider with Sammy Davis Jr were third and fourth places, while Sweden’s Patrik Kittel finished fifth ahead of young Dane, Daniel Bachmann-Andersen with Blue Hors Zack, in sixth.