Laura Graves Makes History at Paris World Cup Final
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
PARIS, April 15, 2018–When Laura Graves and Verdades completed the World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle, the score of 89.082 per cent became the highest for a reserve champion in the 33 years of the individual final.
Isabell Werth’s fourth title in the individual world championship beginning with the first 27 years ago were the second highest for any rider, eclipsed by the Queen of the Freestyle, Anky van Grunsven of the Netherlands with nine World Cups.
And the score of 90.657 per cent for Isabell and Weihegold OLD, No. 1 in the world, in repeating as the winner was the fourth above 90 per cent, her one result from Omaha in 2017 of 90.704 per cent and two by Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, 94.916 per cent in Las Vegas in 2015 and 92.179 per cent in Lyon, France in 2014.
Riders from the Netherlands have won championship 13 times and Germany 10 times.
Great Britain, Switzerland and the United States have each won the event twice.
Laura Graves, 30 years old of Geneva, Florida and Verdades, ranked fifth, set new records for an American combination in both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.
The score of 81.413 per cent in the Grand Prix surpassed the previous top result of 81.383 per cent that was awarded Steffen Peters and Ravel in Florida in January, 2012, three years after the pair won the World Cup. Only the second American to do so. The first was Debbie McDonald, Laura’s coach, on Brentina in 2002.
The freestyle mark of 89.082 per cent beat the previous best by an American, 85.600 per cent set by Steffen of San Diego, California and Ravel at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany in 2009, the first American to sweep the CDIO5* of the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle.
Laura and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, her business and personal partner, also has the distinction of being the only combination to beat Isabell and Weihegold–twice–since the 2016 Olympic Games.
The next showdown for the two pairs could be either at Aachen in July, if Laura competes there and Isabell chooses Weihegold over her other two confirmed Grand Prix mounts, Emilio and Don Johnson.
A similar scenario could play out at the next championships for dressage, the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina in September.