German dressage ace Isabell Werth threw down the gauntlet with a clear victory in the first leg of the 2010/2011 Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series in Odense, Denmark.

Last to go, and chasing the target set by Denmark’s Princess Nathalie Zu Sayn Wittgenstein who pipped her for the honours in yesterday’s Grand Prix, Werth produced a score of 81.00% to reverse the placings, while The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud once again steered IPS Tango into third.

Riders from eight nations qualified for today’s Freestyle competition but it was clear the host country’s Zu Sayn Wittgenstein was going to be the one to beat.  Yesterday she set the arena alight with a wonderful performance from her 13 year old gelding Digby, and such was the jubilation of the home crowd that the arena commentator had to call on the excited spectators to quieten down in order to allow the next competitor to take their turn.  Today the crowd went wild with joy once again as the 35 year old rider, who became a mother this summer but who is still showing as much of a competitive edge as ever, produced a personal-best Freestyle score of 80.05% when fourth-last into the arena.

Motherhood is in the air on the Dressage circuit right now and Werth also had a child earlier this year.  Like her Danish counterpart she remains fully focused on her riding career however, so she wasn’t happy with her second-place result yesterday which she described as “not good enough”.  Typically determined, she came out today to produce a more concentrated performance that won the day and earned the first of those much-coveted maximum points to leave her top of the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ leaderboard at this early stage of the season.

Zu Sayn Wittgenstein’s test today was consistent and harmonious and it was clear it would put immense pressure on the final three riders.  It fell to Minderhoud to follow her into the arena, and with the crowd still cheering loudly for the home heroine it was not an easy task with his 10 year old stallion.  IPS Tango, a son of Jazz, is still a relative novice at this level of the sport.  Yesterday Minderhoud explained – “it’s his first season in Grand Prix and I’m happy with the way he is going and developing” – but with the excitement still buzzing after Zu Sayn Wittgenstein had left the arena the Dutchman found himself having to handle a very elevated passage as he began his Freestyle today.  “Odense is great, but the arena is not the easiest with big screens in the centre and screens on all four sides.  But I was able to relax IPS Tango again and I am very happy with his performance” Minderhoud explained after achieving a score of 77.00%.

Second-last to go was Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven riding Favouit, but their score of 70.30% was no threat to the leaders so only Werth could now prevent a Danish victory.  And so she did, as Satchmo produced a foot-perfect mistake-free performance that included wonderful transitions from a canter pirouette to a piaffe pirouette.  The spectators may have been keen for a home win, but the knowledgeable audience recognised great dressage and applauded the German partnership just as enthusiastically as their own star while the judges also rewarded Werth accordingly.

“Today Satchmo had the right mixture of power and relaxation, just the way I love it!” said the winner, who previously claimed the FEI World Cup™ Dressage title with Warum Nicht FRH in Las Vegas three years ago.  Fourth place today went to Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg riding Responsible while Denmark’s Sune Hansen and Blue Hors Romanov slotted into fifth.

The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage series now moves on to Lyon, France where the second leg will take place on Friday 29 October 2010.  For all information on the French fixture go to website

1. SATCHMO Isabell Werth (GER) 81,100%
2. DIGBY Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein (DEN) 80.050%
3. IPS TANGO Hans Peter Minderhoud (NED) 77,200%
4. RESPONSIBLE OLD Helen Langehanenberg (GER) 75,500%
5. BLUE HORS ROMANOV Sune Hansen (DEN) 74,400%
6. LAMARC WRT Sabine Becker (GER) 72,900%
7. ATTERUPSGAARDS MOLBERG Sanne Henningsen (DEN) 71,900%
8. LEO AF MAGNUSHOJ Nina Hofmann (SWE) 71,100%
9. SKOVLUNDS MAS GUAPO Mikaela Lindh (FIN) 71,000%
10. FAVOURIT Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (SWE)70,300%
11. PREMIER Aat van Essen (NED) 69,200%
12. PEGASUS MK Anna Ross Davies (GBR) 68,4500%
13. LYDIANUS Charlotte Haid Bondergaard (SWE) 68,300%
14. PRO-SET Lillann Jebsen (NOR) 67,950%
15. RUBEL 13 Fanny Verliefden (BEL) 67,550%

Facts and Figures:
– The Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage in Odense was the highlight of a great weekend of dressage competitions, including Young Horse, Prix St Georges and Intermediate competitions.
– At Odense this weekend, the Danish Equestrian Federation organised exams for new judges and for a group of FEI judges to get promotion. FEI Dressage Director Trond Asmyr was happy with the hospitality of Odense and the organisational part of the exams.
-FEI World Cup™ Dressage celebrates its 26th season this year
– Top fashion designer, Reem Acra, recently signed a three-year sponsorship deal for the FEI World Cup™ Dressage beginning with the 2010/2011 season.
– Denmark has quite a history in the World Cup™ Dressage as the first-ever winner of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series was Denmark’s Anne-Grethe Jensen, riding Marzog in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
– Denmark;s Kurt Christensen chaired the judge panel at Odense
– The panel included Wim Ernes (NED). Andrew Gardner (GBR), Kurt Christensen (DEN), Jacques van Daele (BEL) and Katrina Wüst (GER).
– The most successful rider in the history of FEI World Cup™ Dressage is The Netherlands’ Anky Van Grunsven who claimed the title nine times over a 13 year period stretching from 1995 to 2008 and riding only two horses, her 2000 Olympic champion Bonfire and her 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Salinero.

Sune Hansen, Denmark : “Yesterday it was difficult for me because there is a lot of movement in the arena, and Romanoff is easily distracted. I am very pleased with my ride today, and very proud of my horse.”

Lisa Wells, Director of Special Events for Reem Acra: “It’s so exciting to be here, we’re glad to be a part of this. The athletes were fantastic – the horses were beautiful – and the whole event is very well organized. Reem Acra is very happy to start out here!”

Hans Peter Minderhoud who became third and also won the Intermediate I Freestyle showing stallion Johnson: “I am very happy and proud as I’m already training and educating both approved stallions Johnson and IPS Tango since they were 3 years old.  Now it’s wonderful to become aware of the appreciation of the judges in sport! Both stallions have to built up show experiences now and Odense was a great start of the new season to do so. I’m looking forward to compete IPS Tango in the third qualifier in Stockholm again.”

Western European League Calendar 2010/2011:
1. Odense (DEN), 21-24 October
2. Lyon (FRA), 27 October – 1 November
3. Stockholm (SWE), 26-28 November
4. London Olympia (GBR), 14-15 December
5. Frankfurt (GER), 15-19 December
6. Mechelen (BEL), 26-30 December
7. Amsterdam (NED), 20-23 January
8. Neumünster (GER), 17-20 February
9. Göteborg (SWE), 24-27 February
10. ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED), 24-27 March

FINAL Leipzig (GER), 27 April – 1 May