Continuing on from where they left off, the world number one horse-and-rider combination of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the wonder-mare TSF Dalera BB produced another superb performance to win the seventh leg of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2023/2024 Western European League at Basel in Switzerland.
Compatriots Isabell Werth with Emilio 107 and Matthias Alexander Rath with Destacado FRH filled second and third spots, Sönke Rothenberger having to settle for fifth this time out when headed by Austria’s Florian Bach and Fidertraum OLD.
This was a second successive victory for von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera in Basel, having also topped the line-up at the Swiss fixture to get their 2023 season off to a flying start 12 months ago. They went on to claim their second successive FEI Dressage World Cup™ title three months later, and on home turf at CDIO5*-NC in Aachen in July won all before them, then took double-gold and team silver at the FEI European Championship, and finished off the year by winning both the Grand Prix and Freestyle at CDI5* in Stockholm (SWE) in December.
The pair who are also reigning Olympic champions continue on a roll into the Olympic year of 2024, and after posting a handsome winning score of 91.010, von Bredow-Werndl said, “Dalera is the best and I am very happy. It is such an amazing feeling to have her in such in a great shape here in Basel!”
It was Werth who set the target high when putting 87.950 on the board with Emilio, the horse set for retirement at the end of 2023, who is showing the best form of his entire career recently and who sparkled again with a test filled with confidence, rhythm, harmony, and co-operation.
At 18 years old, the Westphalian gelding seems to be enjoying his work more than ever, and it shows in the focus he is applying to his job, the smoothness of his transitions demonstrating just how settled and concentrated he has become. It’s no wonder his joint-owners Werth and Madeleine Winter-Schulze have decided to extend his career after all.
Only von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera could better that, their Paris-themed soundtrack carrying them to maximum scores of 10 for Choreography, Degree of Difficulty, and Music and Interpretation across the board from all five judges – Susanne Baarup (DEN), Hans Voser (SUI), Raphael Saleh (FRA), Stephen Clarke (GBR), and Henning Lehrmann (GER) – for that winning total of 91.010.
The word “retirement” seems to be popping up a lot lately, sometimes inevitable when a horse is as consistently successful as Dalera, who turned 17 this year. But von Bredow-Werndl insisted that it’s not on the agenda anytime soon for the mare owned jointly by her mother, Micaela Werndl, and Beatrice Buerchler-Keller, despite rumours that Paris 2024 may bring the horse-and-rider’s career together to an end.
“It is difficult to find the right words to describe what Dalera has done for me and is still doing. I not only want to maintain our current form, but also develop it further if possible, and I am so thankful that Dalera wants to do it with me. So I will do my best for her and we will see what the rest of the season brings,” von Bredow-Werndl said.
She pointed out that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games is her main priority this year, so the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2024 in Riyadh (KSA) in April is not in her schedule. But Werth has it clearly in her sights.
“Emilio is in great shape and enjoys it so much at the moment. We have now done two World Cup qualifiers and would be qualified for the Final, so I will see how he is feeling week after week and make our show plan from that. But it would be nice to ride him at the Final,” she said.
She has rocketed up to seventh on the league table ahead of the next qualifier in Amsterdam (NED) in two weeks’ time, picking up the maximum 20 qualifying points at both Stuttgart (GER) in November and again in Basel because, as defending champion, von Bredow-Werndl does not earn points.
Matthias Alexander Rath was well pleased with his third-place finish with the charming 11-year-old chestnut stallion Destacado FRH, whose suppleness in half-pass and extravagant extended walk helped them on their way to a combination-best score of 81.750.
“He has made so much progress in the last year, and I am happy to see the results today and look forward to this season with him,” Rath said of his horse. He really enjoyed the atmosphere at Basel. “Everything works well; the atmosphere is amazing. I was here with my whole family, and we had a really nice time,” he added.
Thomas Straumann, President of the Board of Directors of CHI Classics Basel, was also delighted with how the competition played out. Dressage only joined the show programme in 2023, and it is already proving immensely popular with spectators.
“We had, as last year, great sport this afternoon with an amazing atmosphere and the public is showing so much support. I am really happy to have started with Dressage last year, and we will for sure continue in the future!” he said.
He certainly will, because next year Basel will host the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2025 in Dressage, Jumping and Vaulting.
by Louise Parkes