Times have changed, the Germans no longer pick up the dressage gold like a postal package. Other nations have caught up. The German riders are good, the horses too – but the star qualities in the German team were missing in Herning. Years ago that would have been enough for victory, today still for bronze. A consolation for the future: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl’s Olympic champion Dalera might have gotten the five points between gold and bronze. At 17, the mare is just young enough for Paris 2024. But that’s only the day after tomorrow. The World Cup in Denmark is about the here and now.
The Danish dressage team won the title with 235.451 points, followed by the British (234.223). The bronze place remained for the Germans who were used to winning (230.791). So all the medal teams were close together. After 1970 and 2010, it was only the third defeat for a German dressage team in World Championship history. It was fitting that the German starters even remained without medals in the first of two individual decisions at the Dressage World Championships. The best placement in the Grand Prix Special was achieved on Monday evening Isabel Werth, who rode fourth with Quantaz. Fifth was Benjamin Werndl with Famoso.
The gold was already gone when the last German rider, Frederic Wandres, rode the 15-year-old Duke of Britain in the team competition. He would have had to have more than 81 percent to secure the title for his team. His personal best was about four percent lower. A miracle would have happened or a competitor’s horse would have had to throw its rider off. Neither happened, and on top of that, Duke of Britain couldn’t inspire as much as in Aachen a month ago. He seemed a little unhappy, made a few mistakes and fell short of his potential with 76.661 percent (ninth place). “But he has shown that he is a reliable horse and gets his grades. If we don’t make any mistakes, I’m optimistic for the Grand Prix Special,” said Wandres. However, when the vet checked him on Monday morning, he was disappointed: Duke of Britain was withdrawn. For Wandres, however, a childhood dream came true in Herning: “One time a team photo with Isabell Werth. I can put a check on that now.”
Two German riders achieve personal bests and Isabell Werth has better control over her horse again
Things went better for the three other German riders. Benjamin Werndl on Famoso (77.003 percent, seventh place) and Ingrid Klimke (75.683, 14th place) achieved personal best marks, and Isabell Werth, the pillar of the team with six Olympic victories and an icon of the sport, once again had twelve-year-old Quantaz under control that he completed the program without any mistakes. Two weeks ago he shocked his rider at a tournament in Kronberg in the middle of the piaffe with a huge leap over half the arena. That’s why Werth was a bit more cautious in the Grand Prix (77.407 percent, fifth place).
With third place, the German dressage riders have achieved the minimum goal, the Olympic qualification. One is satisfied, said the sports director of the equestrian association (FN), Dennis Peiler, with new German modesty. That was all. A four-legged star was missing, a point collector like the retired Bella Rose von Werth, the injured Showtime by Dorothee Schneider or the Olympic champion Dalera by Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who pulls the others along: horses, therefore, that the people and thus also the judges inspire.
The success of the Danish team is no surprise. More amazing is the performance of the second-placed Brits
For the Danish team it was the first world title ever, a great success for the hosts. Top rider Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour won the Grand Prix on the ten-year-old Vamos Amigos with 81.863 percent without going all out. She is also considered to be the favorite for both individual titles having saved her horse’s strength for that.
But the real surprise was the British, who snatched the silver medal from the Germans. The two-time Olympic champion Charlotte Dujardin brought a relative newcomer to the start with the only nine-year-old Imhotep. Up to that point, the fox had only competed in three Grands Prix, each in front of a handful of spectators, and now had to cope with the atmosphere in the crowded soccer stadium in Herning. He did it bravely and added a few bonus points to the Olympic champion (77.407, second place).
The third British starter, Gareth Hughes, who is competing despite a corona infection, causes irritation
The real star not only of the British team, but of this World Dressage Championship was the eleven-year-old black stallion Glamourdale, ridden by the highly gifted 26-year-old Charlotte Fry, who came second with 80.839 percent behind the Danish Laudrup-Dufour. Many experts saw her at the forefront, but Charlotte Fry’s time will come, probably in two years at the latest at the Paris Olympics. The black stallion danced through the program, covered the diagonal with huge canter strides, received multiple applause and the jury gave him the top mark of ten. A couple with star qualities, whose career has only just begun – perhaps the future Olympic champion rode into the arena in Herning.
The third Brit, Gareth Hughes, caused irritation on Classic Briolinca. Only after the Grand Prix did it become known that the 51-year-old had already tested positive for Covid before his ride. He gave interviews without a mask and stood crowded on the podium with the other riders at the award ceremony. The British federation representative Winnie Murphy defended this with the Danish laws, which no longer require any isolation or quarantine. The other teams were not informed of the finding. “We were completely surprised,” said the German team manager Klaus Roeser. “Otherwise we would have kept more distance at the award ceremony. That was a human disappointment.”