Disappointing Silver for Isabell Werth

Tue, 08/19/2008 - 00:00
2008 Olympic Games

Isabell Werth was on gold medal course but a brake and run refusal in the piaffe in the Grand Prix Special messed up her test and confidence. For Isabell , there was only one mission in the Grand Prix Kur: ride an error-free test.

Isabell traveled the ring with Satchmo looking light and elegant with lots of patting. The look on her face was concerned concentration. The dramatic vocals of Sibylla Duffe in Werth's new kur "Hymn of Emotion" enforced the grand sound of her freestyle, but it is a pity that spineless Werth caved in to the judges and discarded her fantastic "March with Me" freestyle because 'some' judges did not like the vocals in it. The first piaffe they did was a very careful, safe piaffe in front of the judges box. The extended trot was relaxed and ground covering, the half pass to the left was just "wow" and rolled into another safe piaffe in which Isabell seemed afraid to ride her own horse. The passage was beautiful but the right hind leg was stepping under a bit more than the left. The second extended trot was pretty but there's more in Satchmo's tank. And then disaster struck. One could easily see it coming: the piaffe pirouette at A was initiated with not enough energy. Pretty soon all impulsion lacked on turning clockwise in the pirouette and Satchmo first snatched his left hind leg high, then resisted and some major disobedience followed. He went backwards and on received aids forwards, he curved his back and almost wanted to buck.

Isabell got him going again quickly afterwards, but that was the point where she lost her gold. She had to play it safe to avoid further violent disruptions in her test. A gorgeous half pass to the right followed. The extended and collected walk were good. Werth's high level of technical difficulty appears especially in the canterwork. Several double pirouettes, a canter zigzag, two tempi's which immediately succeed in one tempi's on a half circle. They were all well performed including the final extended trot and final passage half passes on the centerline. In the immobile halt, Isabell's face said it all: utter disappointment for a gold medal lost.

Werth scored 78.100% for the kur and this score added to her winning Special score but her in silver medal position with an 76.650 % overall. Not the gold she had hoped for and to which she was so close. It's a pity, but that's the sport: it's a tough neck-to-neck race between the two giants (Isabell and Anky) and she who stays faultless gets the glory.

"I had to ride at full risk because of the small advantage I had and that's what I did," Isabell Werth conveyed to the press. "It's a great pity that Satchmo spooked again. Nevertheless, it was a good kur." To refer to this major resistance as just "a spook" is incomprehensible as the horse was not afraid of any object outside the ring. The resistance seems to be either a health or training issue. Isabell's goal for the future is clear: fixing this new problem. "Satchmo had not forgotten the problem in piaffe from the Special. In the kur the mistake happened again in the third piaffe. I can't explain it. The rest was super. To me it was his best Kur. I just have to work to get relaxation and confidence back again," she pointed out.

She continued, "we have been nearly too good for the last three years and it is a bit of a shame that this has happened at the Olympic Games, I was hoping it wouldn't happen here but we have team gold and it was very close between Anky and me - I really lost it in the Special," she explained. However now it's a case of putting it behind her and moving on - and the London Olympic Games in 2012 are another target. "I'm going to work towards that, it's a new challenge and I think I'm the youngest rider here so I can go!" she said with a laugh, looking at her two rivals on the podium.

At the press conference, the Dutch delegation grabbed yet another opportunity to hark at German judge Gotthilf Riexinger, this time with the support of the Americans. After the Grand Prix Special a meeting took place with the judges and representatives of the top placed countries in the nations' cup. They continued the discussion openly at the final press conference after the kur revealing their disagreement with the points Isabell Werth and Steffen Peters got. The Americans wondered why small mistakes in Steffen Peters' test got penalized so badly, while a major mistake in Isabell's piaffe still rank her so highly." Riexinger replied confidently: "Isabell Werth's test has a much higher technical difficulty than Peters's. That's why she can still reach a higher score."

Text by Astrid Appels/Eurodressage - Photos copyrighted: Ridehesten - Franz Venhaus

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