Champions Reflect
on Their Historic
Paris Triumphs

16 April 2018

Werth and Madden celebrate incredible wins following a thrilling Finals week

Romance was alive and well in Paris as an incredible few days of equestrian action concluded with emotional wins for two of the sport’s greatest athletes.

 

Elizabeth "Beezie" Madden and Isabell Werth both added to their tallies of World Cup wins, as they overcame incredible fields of strong rivals in front of the passionate French crowds at the iconic AccorHotels Arena.

 

However, their wins could not have been more different, with Madden leading the field from the off as she became the oldest ever win of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final at 54. Werth had to muster something special to just pip Laura Graves to clinch an incredible fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title.

"People think it’s
easy: you win, and
you win again, but
it’s not like that"

The Paris crowd enjoyed the scintillating performances.

They also loved the nerves of steel shown by Werth as the German and Weihegold produced a 90-plus score at just the right time in Saturday’s crucial Freestyle event.

 

American Graves, who also came second in 2017, had stolen the show on Friday with a score of 81.4 on Verdades to take a much-deserved lead. That was a personal best, and another career high was achieved in Saturday’s Freestyle as she piled the pressure on her experienced rival.

 

But Werth described how she used her first-round Grand Prix performance, which left her some way behind Graves, as motivation as she worked with coach Monica Theodorescu to get in the right state of mind ahead of the final Freestyle leg.

 

“I was not really disappointed or sad [after the first round], I was just thinking about how I had to prepare and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong,” she said.

 

“So Monica and me, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and she was the horse I wanted to show [in the first round].”

Giving an insight into the tough and focussed mindset that has propelled her to multiple international titles over her 30-year career, she added: "This is life. A lot of people think it’s easy: you win, and you win again, but it’s not like that.

 

“You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. The Grand Prix was not our day, but in the Freestyle we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!"

 

After two successive silver medals, Graves has set herself a challenge of improving her Freestyle round as she aims for a first World Cup title.

 

She said: “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future.”

Madden led from the first to the third and last day of competition, but was pushed all the way by rivals Devin Ryan and Henrik von Eckermann, who came second and third respectively.

 

She paid tribute to her horse Breitling LS after three tough days, and described her second world title, following her victory in 2013, as “double exciting”.

"We’ve really believed in Breitling but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through is fantastic,” said Madden.

 

"I love the World Cup Final - each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again."

Looking ahead to Gothenburg 2019

For Von Eckermann there was frustration as he and Tovek’s Mary Lou had to settle for a second successive third place after a late mistake. In 2019 the Swede may get the chance to claim a first ever Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title in Gothenburg in his home country.

 

“I can’t blame my horse, she did her best for me,” he said. “The penalty I got was my own fault. I wanted to try too hard, I should have believed in the qualities of my horse.

 

“My horse had it in her to win. I just wasn’t with her."

 

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Text by Richard Mulligan

Images by Liz Gregg and Christophe Taniere