Isabell Werth Into 2020 Ranked Top With Bella Rose and First Rider as Year-End No. 1 on 2 Different Horses
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Jan. 2, 2020
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Isabell Werth starts 2020 ranked top in the world with Bella Rose and becomes the first rider as year-end No. 1 on two different horses since the current format of ranking rider/horse combinations was begun in 2006. Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin on Mount St. John Freestyle produced the most dramatic change in the standings, skytocketing to No. 6 in the world from 48th.
Isabell of Germany ended 2019 atop the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rankings with Bella Rose–though not yet official–at the age of 50 and the most decorated equestrian in Olympic history with 10 medals and going into a year with the 2020 Tokyo Games just seven months away.
This was the fourth year in a row that Isabell was No. 1 at year-end, being atop the rankings in 2016, 2017 and 2018 on Weihegold OLD, a 16-year-old Oldenburg mare that was her 2016 Olympic team gold and individual silver medal mount as well as three-time World Cup champion. The duo are ranked No. 2.
The success with Bella Rose has been remarkable.
The Westfalen mare that she describes as THE horse of her life, was a star in their first two years of Big Tour in 2013 and 2014. But in 2014, a problem had developed with Bella Rose that for a long time was difficult to diagnose.
Bella Rose finally was brought back into competition by Isabell 3 1/2 years later, in mid-2018.
Since then, Isabell and Bella Rose, now 16 years old, have been undefeated in 18 starts, including team and individual gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon and team, individual and freestyle gold at the European Championships in August.
The horse/rider combination format was introduced in 2006 to make the rankings more transparent as previously points could be accumulated on multiple horses.
European Championships German team mates Dorothee Schneider on Showtime remained at No. 3 with Jessica von Bredow Werndl on TSF Dalera BB ranked fourth.
Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour on Cassidy the horse she admits many people thought was ready for retorement before the pair’s European Championship individual bronze medal performance stood in fifth place.
For Charlotte Dujardin, world No. 1 on Valegro at the end of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, last year was a roller-coaster after team and individual bronze medal performances at the 2018 Tryon World Games.
Charlotte and Freestyle logged four victories in four starts in early 2019, then were eliminated at the Europeans in September.
The pair recovered, however, to capture the Lyon, France World Cup Freestyle then swept the premier home event, the London Olympia World Cup, with a musical performance that set a personal best 87.520%.
The results boosted the pair’s standings to ease past America’s Laura Graves on Verdades who competed only eight times in 2019, the last time at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in April where they were reserve champion for the third straight year behind Isabell and Weihegold.