FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2023 Update: Von Bredow-Werndl and Von Eckermann Take Day 1
The defending FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) cruised to victory in the opening round of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final presented by Havensafe Farm on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, taking place at the atmospheric CHI Health Center Omaha in the heart of Omaha, Nebraska. This is the seventh time the dressage final has been held on U.S. soil. The FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2023 runs through April 5.
The reigning Olympic champion and world number one claimed the purple winner’s blanket in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final – Grand Prix presented by Havensafe Farm, scoring 79.922% on Béatrice A. Buerchler-Keller’s 16-year-old Trakehner mare TSF Dalera BB (by Easy Game). She shrugged off the considerable challenge from her compatriot Isabell Werth, who is contesting her 24th FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final. Werth rode Madeleine Winter-Schulze and Victoria Max-Theurer’s 13-year-old Quaterback x Hohenstein gelding DSP Quantaz to 77.485%.
Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald broke the German stranglehold, clinching third with a 76.165% performance on the 15-year-old Blue Hors Zepter, who is by Skodborg Merrald’s other Grand Prix ride, the 19-year-old Blue Hors Zack, with whom she won team gold at the 2022 FEI World Championships.
Germany boasted tremendous strength in depth, also securing fourth place; Ingrid Klimke rode Wilhelm Holkenbrink’s 15-year-old Fidertanz stallion Franziskus to 75.543%. Steffen Peters, who at 58 is the oldest dressage rider competing, was the best-placed U.S. athlete, slotting into fifth with 74.581% on Suppenkasper.
“Dalera was on fire,” grinned von Bredow-Werndl, whose test had a couple of glitches due to the mare’s eagerness, which brought the score south of 80% for the first time since January 2021. “I already watched my test, and my feeling is confirmed; she is in super shape. I am more than happy to be the winner today, although unfortunately with some big hiccups. Yes, she had a little bit too much energy for today, but the good thing is we could all see she is in top form. I definitely enjoyed the ride.”
Wednesday’s result brings von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera’s unbroken winning streak to a staggering 21 tests, which began at the Tokyo Olympic Games — where the pair scooped team and individual gold. Dalera has been fit and fresh on arrival to Omaha, and von Bredow-Werndl gave her the chance to stop and look around as she walked into the atmospheric main arena.
“She was a little bit nervous, and that’s okay,” added von Bredow-Werndl, who was awarded 12 scores of 10 during her ride, all for the exquisite piaffe/passage. “It’s a very electric atmosphere in there. I enjoyed the last days training her because she felt amazing from the first step. The first day I arrived she needed to buck a little bit, and obviously today she needed a buck before entering the arena as well. She is in super form, and just as excited as I am to be here.”
This win puts the 37-year-old — who gave birth to her second child just eight months ago — in pole position for Friday’s Grand Prix Freestyle. This opening round helps determine the order of go for the final — it is considered beneficial to go late on in the class — but the overall FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final winner will be decided solely by the placings in the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final – Grand Prix Freestyle presented by Havensafe Farm, which starts at 6 p.m. local time.
“It’s difficult to say goodbye to an eight-month-old baby,” admitted von Bredow-Werndl, who has bounced back remarkably quickly to top sport from her maternity leave. “Usually, I take the kids with me, but to come here isn’t that easy with the connecting flights. I was lucky to have a good pregnancy and good birth. If you burn to do something you really love, if you’re passionate about it, it’s no question about how fast you can go back. Four days after giving birth that I was back in the saddle. Just the feeling to sit in the saddle gave me all the motivation I needed.”
Defending Champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl Puts Her and Dalera In Command in FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final Presented by Havensafe Farm (jumpmediallc.com)