Las Vegas, Nev., April 22, 2007 -- It was practically no contest in the Rolex FEI World Cup Dressage Finals for Isabell Werth. The inevitable happened last night when the German rider, favored from the start, took the title with a flawless ride on Warum Nicht that showed great rapport between horse and rider.
The capacity crowd of 11,925 at the Thomas & Mack Center gave the Olympic gold medalist a standing ovation, and she responded by waving back in elation after her final salute.
Isabell got a 10 for music and interpretation from Dieter Schule, head of the ground jury, who said, "Her performance was outstanding today. She was controlling the horse very well with a lot of impulsion and I think it was a freestyle you don't very often see."
Despite the electricity of the arena and the fact that this was his first championship, Warum Nicht remained blissfully unruffled.
"I didn't expect that he would be so relaxed and secure when I went in because it was such a great atmosphere and a fantastic crowd," said Isabell, who also won the Cup in 1992.
Second place was a bit of a surprise, Imke Schellekens-Bartels of the Netherlands on the coquettish mare Sunrise, who earned 77.950 percent. Of her, Judge Dieter said, "It's a very elastic horse...with good impulsion," while noting, "all the freestyles were really good and on a very high level."
The USA's Steffen Peters, who increased his freestyle's degree of difficulty with flying changes on a serpentine, finished third, one place back from his ribbon in Thursday's Grand Prix.
He said his 17-year-old mount "was just a little bit tired at the end and anticipating the halt." Steffen had to urge him on before he stopped again properly four-square until the noise of the crowd jolted him.
"Those are little things we can iron out and overall I'm happy," noted Steffen, whose placing matched that of Debbie McDonald and Brentina in the 2005 Cup at the arena.
Two other Americans were well-placed. Courtney King had a very respectable score of 73.200 on Idocus to finish sixth with a ride that showed style and fluidity, while Catherine Haddad was seventh on Maximus JSS with a percentage of 69.650.
The other American, Leslie Morse, wound up 10th of 11 starters on Tip Top. Her percentage was 65.850.