A Year in

25 December 2018

Patricia Salem looks back on 12 months of Dressage action...

2018 was another superb year for Isabell Werth, but the German wasn’t the only athlete to wow Dressage fans around the world during a scintillating 12 months.


From the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Paris to the FEI Nations Cup™ series and the FEI World Equestrian Games™, take a look at these high points, as the world’s best Dressage riders piaffed and passaged their way to the podium.


FEI Dressage World Cup™

The year was off to a flying start with the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals in Paris in April. After several days of superb displays of equitation to a packed audience at the AccorHotels Arena, it all came down to the Freestyle event.


Germany’s Isabell Werth took first place with the appropriately named Weihegold OLD, but it wasn’t without a battle. The veteran Dressage rider received a stiff challenge from silver medalist Laura Graves of the USA, who had won the Grand Prix the day before and scored a Freestyle personal best of 89.082 percent.


Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl of Germany rounded out the podium in third place, tearfully thrilled that her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood Unee Bb still had the stuff after four FEI World Cup finals.

FEI Dressage Nations Cup™

Next, the world’s Dressage greats took part in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ during the middle of the year, with the final leg taking place in Hickstead in late July.


Ultimately it was Sweden who won the seven-stage competition in part thanks to three wins, in Compiègne, Uggerhalne and Falsterbo. Second in the table were the Netherlands with Denmark in third.


At Hickstead, team France pulled off a repeat of their 2017 win to take the first place, with Pierre Volla achieving a personal best of 76.325 percent in the Freestyle, after taking first in the individual Grand Prix just two days before.


Anne Sophie Serre, Arnaud Serre, and Alexandre Ayache were in on the Champagne celebration on the podium, exhilarated to cap off a Nations Cup season that began in March in Wellington, Florida.



In August, Hong Kong’s Jacqueline Siu took gold in the Individual Dressage competition at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Malaysian athlete Mohd Qabil Ambak came second while the bronze went to South Korean rider Hyeok Kim.


The Team gold went to the Japanese quartet of Masanao Takahashi, Shunsuke Terui, Kazuki Sado and Akane Kuroki, with South Korea and Thailand completing the podium.

2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™

With September, came the FEI World Equestrian Games™ at Tryon, North Carolina, a once-in-four-years opportunity for the best in Dressage to test their skills. While the final Individual Freestyle event had to be cancelled due to weather resulting from a hurricane on the coast, the Team and Individual Grand Prix had the crowds on their feet.


Team Germany were awarded the gold medal, with Isabell Werth and Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl on the podium once more, along with teammates Dorothee Schneider and Sönke Rothenberger. The USA took the silver medal, and Great Britain won the bronze, qualifying them to go to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


In the Individual competition, it came down to Werth and Laura Graves again, with the two rivals repeating their podium positions from Paris. The bronze medal went to Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain, on a new horse, Mount St John Freestyle, having lovingly retired Valegro last December.


As we head to the end of 2018 and the new year, FEI Dressage World Cup™ action is picking up again. While Werth will be the favourite for glory throughout the year, we will also expect big things from twentysomething stars such as Cathrine Dufour and Sönke Rothenberger. Stay tuned to FEI TV for all the excitement!


Words by Patricia Salem

Images by Yong Teck Lim / Liz Gregg / Martin Dokoupil


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