Laura Graves And Verdades Set New Personal Best For Second Straight Silver At Dressage World Cup Final

By Blythe Lawrence | April 14, 2018, 10:21 p.m. (ET)
Laura Graves poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee/NBC Olympics promotional shoot on Nov. 18, 2015 in Los Angeles.

 

Olympic equestrian Laura Graves and Verdades shattered their personal best en route to the silver medal Saturday afternoon at the FEI World Cup Dressage Final in Paris.

Graves also won the silver medal at the 2017 world cup final, which was held in Omaha, Nebraska.

Germany’s Isabell Werth, who has been the most dominant force in the equestrian world for more than two decades, came from behind to win her second straight world cup final title with Weihegold OLD, pulling off a nearly flawless finale to score 90.657 percent. Graves finished with a score of 89.082 percent.

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl of Germany, back aboard Unee BB following a brief maternity leave, earned bronze with 83.725 percent.

Graves, a bronze medalist in team dressage at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, got her competition off to an incredible start in Friday’s grand prix event, breaking the 80 percent mark for the first time outside the United States. Her 81.413 was a new personal best at a grand prix – not to mention three points higher than Werth and Weihegold OLD were able to muster, setting the stage for a major showdown in Saturday’s freestyle.

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Werth, whose six Olympic gold and four Olympic silver medals from five Games make her the undisputed queen of the discipline, was not going to abdicate so easily. The 48-year-old, who shrugged off Friday’s mistakes, returned to the AccorHotels Arena Saturday seeking a golden redemption. Both horse and rider put everything on the line as they delivered a stunning freestyle, good enough to earn them the crown for the second year.

A jubilant champion, Werth celebrated by dousing her fellow medalists and their entourage with a bottle of champagne from the podium following the victory ceremony.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.