Isabell Werth Sets New High Mark–World No. 1 for 50 Months Since 2006 Launch of Rider/Horse Rankings

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Isabell Werth on Bella Rose on the way to winning the European Championship individual gold. © 2019 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Isabell Werth has set a new high mark in dressage racking up 50 months at world No. 1 since the launch of the rider/horse rankings in 2006.

Isabell achieved the mark with the top ranking on four different horses–Warum Nicht three times, Satchmo 11, Weihegold 32 and Bella Rose for four months as of the end of October–30% of the 166 months of rankings.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rankings were changed effective January, 2006 to combinations of riders and horses instead of the previous format of rider only. The current format is based on the eight best results of the previous 12 months. Combinations can remain in the top ranks for several months after retirement or there is a change in rider.

Anky van Grunsven the Dutch superstar topped the rankings with Salinero for all of 2006 that included success at the World Equestrian Games, for five months in 2007 and then for the entire year of 2008 marked by by pair’s individual Olympic gold.

Isabell and Warum Nicht were at the top for three months in 2007, the year she and the Hanoverian gelding won the World Cup Final in Las Vegas.

Satchmo, her partner for 2006 World Games team and individual gold medal, 2007 European Championship team silver and individual gold and 2008 Olympic team gold medal, was ranked No. 1 for four months in 2007 and seven months in 2009.

Isabell Werth on Warum Nicht (left) and Satchmo. Images © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Netherlands riders dominated much of the next four years–Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival the leading combination for three months in 2009, seven months in 2011, nine months in 2012 and three months in 2013.

Edward Gal and Totilas, although partnered for only 15 months at Big Tour beginning in June 2009 and ending at the Kentucky World Games in September 2010, were world No. 1 for 19 months, based on 25 victories in 27 starts, including the 2009 European Championships, the 2010 World Cup title and a sweep of the Kentucky championships. The pair topped the standings for two months in 2009, all of 2010 and for five months in 2011.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro hold the record of 36 for the most top monthly rankings by a single combination beginning with three in 2012 and the historic London Olympic team and individual gold. Nine months at the top in 2013 with the European Championship success, all 12 months of 2014 that included the Normandy World Games, 2015 with another European Championships and the second of two World Cup titles. The 2016 Olympic team silver and individual gold was not enough to put them back as the leading combination.

Kristina Bröring Sprehe and Desperados veered the lead back to Germany in 2016 taking the top spot for nine months. The pair were on the German medal teams at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, the 2014 Normandy championships and 2013 and 2015 Europeans.

Isabell on Weihegold took over for three months at the end of 2016 after setting an equestrian record of 10 Olympic medals with team and individual awards at Rio de Janeiro.

The first of three straight World Cup titles at Omaha in 2017 as well as a sweep of the Europeans at Gothenburg, Sweden kept the duo atop the standings for the entire year and for 10 months in 2018.

Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD celebrating at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 her 10th Olympic medal–more than any other equestrian in over a century of the Games. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Laura Graves on Verdades, a partnership built from a foal seen on a video to Olympic and world championship medals, became the first American–and the first rider not from Western Europe–to become No. 1 broke the streak. Their top ranking was for two months in 2018.

Isabell resumed the run with Weihegold for the first six months and their World Cup title in 2019.

Bella Rose, the Westfalen mare that Isabell describes as THE horse of her lifetime that had come back from 3 1/2 years absent from the show ring with what had been a difficult to diagnose injury returned in mid-2018.

Team and individual gold at the Tryon World Games three months later then a string of competition results, put Isabell and Bella at No. 1 in July this year and a sweep of the Europeans in Rotterdam kept the pair on top through the latest standings at the end of October.