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FEI World Cup™ Dressage: Johnny Gives Isabell Werth The Perfect Christmas Present


Germany’s Isabell Werth and Don Johnson FRH produced a fabulous performance to win the fifth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European League on December 6, 2015 at Salzburg in Austria. (Photo: FEI/Thomas Holcbecher)

Max-Theurer: Salzburg, Dec. 6, 2015, Reem Acra FEI World Cup Dressage Freestyle, Victoria Max-Theurer (AUT) and Blind Date. (Photo: Tomas Holcbecher)


by Louise Parkes

Germany”s Isabell Werth and Don Johnson FRH produced one of the finest performances of their career together to win the fifth leg of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2015/2016 Western European League on December 6, 2015 in Salzburg, Austria. From a distinguished field of starters that included many of the sport’s top stars, they emerged for a convincing victory ahead of The Netherlands’ Edward Gal and Glock’s Voice, while the only other German contender, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, lined up third with Unee BB.

“I’m feeling really, really happy; Johnny was fantastic today and I’m very proud!”, Werth said after claiming the maximum 20 points and moving into equal-seventh spot on the league leader board alongside Gal and Portugal’s Goncales Carvalho.

It was Gal’s score of 80.900% that Werth was chasing when she entered the arena as last rider to go. The Dutchman had produced powerful trot extensions and great elevation in passage and trot half-pass from the 13-year-old stallion, with whom he won the opening leg of the Reem Acra series in Odense, Denmark in October.

But from the moment Werth began, she had winner written all over her, the often-naughty Don Johnson completely under her spell and responding to every instruction with enthusiasm and accuracy as he racked up a massive score of 84.125%! High artistic marks were the order of the day, with the Ground Jury recognizing the harmony between this pair, who have sometimes missed out on the big moments because Johnny was in cheeky mood and just wouldn’t concentrate. It seems those days are over, and at last the 46-year-old rider is being repaid for her patience.   

Werth said that she has now enjoyed three great performances with this horse: at the FEI European Championships in Aachen (GER) this summer; at the third leg of the new Reem Acra series in Stuttgart (GER), where they finished second behind Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Delgado; and again at this event. She puts it all down to maturity in the horse in which she never lost faith.

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