Laura Graves & Verdades No. 1 in World, 1st American to Achieve Top Ranking

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Laura Graves. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Oct. 1, 2018

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Laura Graves and Verdades are No. 1 in the world, according to the latest rankings released Monday that confirmed the pair as the first American to achieve the top ranking.

Laura and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding toppled Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD from the top of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) world rankings for the past 23 months.

The 31-year-old rider and the horse she has developed since her family bought Verdades as a foal was elevated to the top of the global standings after winning team and individual silver medals at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina last month. The two silver medals were the best ever results for an American combination at an Olympics or world championship. Click here for complete standings.

“I honestly can’t believe it,” Laura told dressage-news.com.

“This horse has literally made dreams I never knew I had come true. He is the most selfless creature I’ve ever met. He has taught me a lot about patience and determination. I can credit him with the trainer I have become. You look at him in the barn and just know he is a champion. This horse is more of a human than most humans.

“The most important part of this accomplishment, is the fact that we could not have done it without our village. From the very start my family never doubted my dreams. And then my trainers, most importantly Debbie McDonald. Sponsors like Betsy Juliano who has been a part of every medal we have ever won. Robert Dover, Hallye Griffin and the amazing people at USEF and USET. Vets, farriers, physios and all of Team USA. The list goes on and on.

“Aren’t we lucky! I’m just so honored to have been on this ride. Diddy just wants to ask the FEI where his lifetime supply of carrots is!”

Until now, world No. 1, according to records available from the past two decades, has been held only by Germans Isabell Werth, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Ulla Salzgeber; Adelinde Cornelissen, Anky van Grunsven and Edward Gal of the Netherlands, and Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain.

Laura and “Diddy,” as she calls Verdades owned by herself and her business and personal partner Curt Maes based in the Orlando area community of Geneva, Florida, had been N0. 3 at the end of August, behind Isabell on Weihegold at the top and Emilio second ranked. She and Verdades leapfrogged over the most decorated equestrian in Olympic history with 10 medals to claim the top ranking.

Only Steffen Peters on Ravel, Debbie McDonald on Brentina and Lisa Wilcox on Relevant as well as Laura and Verdades have held rankings as high as No. 2 in the past two decades. Debbie McDonald and Lisa Wilcox and their mounts were on the 2002 World Games silver medal team while Steffen claimed both individual and freestyle bronze at the 2010 Lexington championships.

The American pair accumulated a total of 2,714 points based on the eight best results over the past year, a single point more than the 2,713 for Isabell and Weihegold whose 2016 Olympic team gold and individual silver, three European Championship gold medals in 2017 and World Cup champion in 2017 and 2018 made them the leading partnership for 23 months.

Laura and Verdades first ranked on the international Grand Prix standings at 458th after making their Big Tour debut in Wellington, Florida in February, 2014. Three months later, they were reserve U.S. Grand Prix champion and then competed on the American team at the 2014 World Games in Normandy.

The following year, the duo won team gold and individual silver at the Pan American Games by which time they were in the top 10 in the world.

Within months of the 2016 Olympics where the U.S. took team bronze, the first medal in the Games in 12 years, the combination was in the top two to four until Monday, Oct. 1, when they became No. 1.

Although overtaken for the top spot, Isabell skyrockets in the standings on Bella Rose on which she won team and individual gold at Tryon to become fourth in the world. So with Weihegold at No. 2, Emilio No. 3, Bella Rose No. 4 and Don Johnson FRH at No. 11, Isabell has four horse among the world’s top 11.

Bella Rose, now 14 years old and 51st at the end of August that Isabell confesses is the horse closest to her heart, made a miraculous recovery after a difficult to diagnose and treat injury almost four years ago that kept the Westfalen mare from competition until almost three months ago.

In the fifth spot is Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour whose Cassidy could not compete at the WEG because of an injury.

Charlotte Dujardin has climbed rapidly in the rankings with the nine-year-old Mount St. John Freestyle since their Big Tour debut in April this year, and now ranks sixth in the world after team and individual bronze medal performances at Tryon.

Carl Hester, team mate and mentor of Charlotte, shot up to 23rd from 130th the previous month on the British-bred Hawtins Delicato, a 10-year-old gelding.

Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet, on the U.S. WEG team, climbed to 14th from 20th the previous month while changes for other team combinations were 20th from 18th the previous month for Adrienne Lyle and Salvino while Steffen Peters on Suppenkasper remained at No. 34.