Laura Graves Looks Back to Her Birthday Celebration in Aachen, Germany on This Day 3 Years Ago

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Laura Graves on Verdades celebrating victory in the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* Grand Prix Special at Aachen, Germany on her birthday July 22, 2017, beating Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, world No. 1 combination at the time. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 22, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

One of the most memorable events for Laura Graves on Verdades was three years ago to the day when she beat German superstar Isabell Werth on her world No. 1 horse Weihegold OLD at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, watching the American flag raised and the crowd singing “Happy Birthday.”

Laura, who is 33 years old Wednesday, remembers July 22, 2017 in the Deutsche Bank Stadium when she and Verdades won the CDIO5* Grand Prix Special.

“To have a packed German stadium singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you, I remember that like it was yesterday,” said Laura at her farm in Geneva, Florida where Verdades is in retirement.

“Every year that German flag goes up,” she said. “I know the German national anthem because I hear it so often. In that moment to have that American flag go up that’s why we do this every day.”

Laura developed Verdades, a KWPN gelding, from a foal to No. 1 in the world.

After becoming reserve national Grand Prix champion in 2014, the pair went on to success at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy months later, Pan American Games team gold and individual silver in 2015 and team bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The greatest success came at the 2018 World Games in Tryon where they led the United States to team silver and became the first American ever to win individual silver at Olympics or world championships.

The duo became world No. 1 in September and October, the first U.S. combination to top the global rankings.

Laura and Verdades were reserve champions to Isabell and Weihegold at the World Cup Finals in 2017, 2018 and 2019, performances that saw a victory in the Grand Prix at Paris in 2018 but second in the freestyle that decided the title.

The partnership holds the American record scores for Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle.