Bye, bye, Bella: Retirement for star dressage mare Bella Rosa

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Isabell Werth and Bella Rose competing in the Deutsche Bank Prize 2019.
Isabell Werth and Bella Rose competing in the Deutsche Bank Prize 2019. © CHIO Aachen/Arnd Bronkhorst

Leading German dressage horse Bella Rosa will be officially retired next month at Aachen, the scene of some of her greatest triumphs.

It will be Bella Rose’s final competition, and comes hot on the heels of her Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games team gold and individual silver with rider Isabell Werth.

Aachen’s dressage competition gets under way on September 16 and runs to September 19.

“We will be competing again — we want to demonstrate our abilities in our last appearance on the big, international circuit,” said Werth, who has won the Deutsche Bank Prize at the CHIO Aachen 13 times.

The 17-year-old Westfalian mare is by the Hanoverian-Rhinelander stallion Belissimo M and from the Westfalian-Anglo-Arabian mare Cedra II. She joined Werth as a three-year-old in 2007.

They have won many events at three-star level and above, but Bella Rose had nearly four years off through injury, which forced her withdrawal from the Grand Prix Special at the World Equestrian Games in France in August 2014. She had won team gold and was second in the individual qualifier, but was found to have inflammation in the sole of one of her hooves after the competition. She was back competing at Stuttgart in Germany three months later, but sustained a knee injury after that.

In 2018, Bella Rose made a triumphant comeback, winning two events in Austria before taking out the Havens Pferdefutter Prize and the Lindt Prize at CHIO Aachen. They followed that up with two gold medals at the World Equestrian Games in the USA. Their last appearance at the Deutsche Bank Stadium was in 2019, when Bella Rose and Werth won all four competitions they entered including the Deutsche Bank Prize.

Tokyo 2020 Individual dressage silver medalist Isabell Werth and Bella Rose.
Tokyo 2020 Individual dressage silver medalist Isabell Werth and Bella Rose. © FEI/Shannon Brinkman

After the success of Tokyo 2020 success, Werth has decided the time is right to retire Bella Rose from the sport.

Werth said Bella Rose had an “exceptional temperament, exceptional talent, exceptional movements, on top of that the will to perform and all of this paired with incredible power”.

“From the first moment I saw her I could sense her talent and her charisma. She is special in her whole behaviour, in her attitude and her mind” Werth said.

Werth remembers in the early days how she struggled to channel the mare’s power. As a four-year-old she took Bella Rose along to a clinic: “She just got a few drops of rain on her hindquarters and immediately started doing the piaffe.”

 

Aachen is a special venue for the pair, and Werth says she feels obliged to put in a top performance for the crowd.

But Aachen Show Director Frank Kemperman is not yet revealing what form the farewell ceremony will take: “It is to remain a secret,” he said this week.

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