Isabell Werth On Don Johnson Wins Aachen CDI5* Grand Prix for 5th Straight Victory
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, May 30, 2015–Isabell Werth logged her fifth straight victory when she rode Don Johnson FRH to win the CDI5* Grand Prix Saturday with an awards ceremony that had all the pomp and pageantry of the world’s premier horse show although a mini version ahead of the European Championships.
Isabell and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding scored 76.300 per cent for the win with Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén and her Olympic and World Games partner Don Auriello second on 75.920 with United States’ Steffen Peters on Legolas 75.780 per cent in their last international competiton before the Pan American Games in mid-July (see separate story).
Much to the amusement of many, Legolas was listed in the official start list as a mare. For the record, Legolas is a gelding.
Only 19 horses and riders from nine nations were in the Grand Prix at this World Equestrian Festival that normally includes a CDIO5* Nations Cup, a CDI4* Grand Prix, Small Tour and Under-25 division. Despite wintry weather and a much truncated program, the show grounds were crowded.
The awards ceremony in the 40,000-seat Main Stadium where the dressage arena has already been laid down in preparation for the European Championships in two months drew almost a full house after a jumper event with an honor guard and all the trappings of the regular CHIO.
For Isabell Werth, Germany’s top rider for almost a quarter century, five victories in a row was the most a run of seven wins on Satchmo and Warum Nicht at the end of 2008 and early 2009.
She said the goal with Don Johnson in recent shows has been to make the horse more consistent and rideable after a period in which he was good on occasions and then difficult at others.
Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén who competed Don Auriello only once this year although she took the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding to Wellington, Florida for the winter-long Adequan Global Dressage Festival placed second as the gets prepared for the European Championships where Sweden will be looking to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.