"This was her last show before her injury four years ago, so to come back today and to win like this is something special!" she said.
From the outset there was a big buzz in the Schleyer Halle, with The Netherlands’ Emmelie Scholtens and Desperado, who finished last of the 14 starters in Friday’s Grand Prix, bouncing back to set the standard with a nice pathfinding test at 75.365.
With extraordinary accuracy and control, Langehanenberg went into the lead when posting 81.470 when fourth-last to go, and she was still out in front when Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen put 81.190 on the board. It was his horse Blue Hors Zepter’s first ever Freestyle test!
But it was compatriot Dorothee Schneider’s 81.840 that Werth was chasing when last into the arena. And she nailed it by a considerable margin, posting 85.660 despite one major blip.
But as the athlete who has collected eight World Championship and six Olympic gold medals pointed out, “she was brilliant again for the rest of the test. The piaffe/passage couldn’t have been better and her half-pass extensions were super!” she said, and that was borne out by the number of maximum scores she earned from the judges which put the result beyond doubt.
It was a tricky course set by Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf, who also designed the Driving obstacles at the recent FEI World Equestrian Games™ at Tryon.
Six Driving teams participated in the event over two days, with no points carried over from the first day and no points carried into the final drive off.
The speedbox element has been enlarged since last season’s World Cup competition, allowing for greater velocity but still requiring tight precision to avoid hitting a cone and accruing penalty points.
Saturday’s Stuttgart course also included a water element, which made the driving carriages and footing more slippery at its exit, demanding top four-in-hand skill from the drivers and testing each team’s navigator and backstepper.
After the first round of driving, Glenn Geerts had barely exited the ring before he was back for the drive off. He put in a super fast time with no penalties and had to wait to see if it would hold for the gold medal position.
After József Dobrovitz had two cones down to add to his score, Geerts was guaranteed at least a top-two finish, but Ijsbrand Chardon put his years of driving expertise on display for a blistering time that made his 4 penalty points irrelevant.