FEI Dressage World Championships 2022: Preview, schedule and stars to watch in Paris 2024 qualifier

Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour carries home hopes in Herning but reigning champion Isabell Werth and Charlotte Dujardin will be among her rivals for individual gold. Denmark and Germany are the favourites for the team title with Olympic spots for Paris 2024 up for grabs.

By Rory Jiwani

Home hopes will be sky-high in dressage at the FEI Equestrian World Championships in Herning, Denmark from 6-10 August.

Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour was unstoppable at CHIO Aachen last month, winning four individual events out of four as well as leading Denmark to a first Aachen Nations Cup success from hosts Germany.

The Germans' bid to keep their 11-year unbeaten team record in Aachen intact was dealt a hefty blow when defending world champion Isabell Werth was eliminated from the Grand Prix Special.

They will still be among the favourites despite the absence of reigning Olympic champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who is expecting her second child any day now.

That leaves Laudrup-Dufour as the highest-ranked equestrian in the field and in with a great chance of ending Denmark's 36-year title drought at the World Championships.

But don't forget Britain with double Olympic individual champion and last year's Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Charlotte Dujardin, or the United States who took silver in Tokyo and at the last World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.

There is also the added incentive of winning Olympic quota spots at Paris 2024. The top six nations in the team competition will qualify for the Olympic Games in just under two years' time.

Dressage World Championships 2022 Format

The first two days sees all the riders compete in the Grand Prix with the total of the best three scores from each nation deciding the medals in the team competition.

It's not just about the medals though with the top six nations securing entry to the team event at Paris 2024.

The top 30 from the Grand Prix make it through to the Grand Prix Special with the first individual medals awarded based on these scores.

The top 15 in the Grand Prix Special go through to the most difficult and prestigious test, the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music (often shortened to Grand Prix Freestyle), where the riders perform their own choreography although it must still contain certain mandatory movements.

There are two individual medal events at the World Championships as opposed to just one at the Olympic Games. The competition format at Tokyo 2020 was based solely on the Grand Prix Freestyle for which there were 18 qualifiers (from the Grand Prix Special).

Dressage World Championships 2022 Stars To Watch

Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour and Denmark have history in their sights

Denmark's sole dressage world title came back in 1986 at Cedar Valley, Canada when Anne Grethe Jensen triumphed on board Marzog.

Now Laudrup-Dufour is in pole position to repeat that feat after a stunning week in Aachen last month.

The 30-year-old claimed a CDIO5* hat-trick - Grand Prix, Grand Prix special and Grand Prix freestyle - on Vamos Amigos, and teamed up with Bohemian to take the CDI4*.

Having partnered Bohemian to European freestyle silver and special bronze last year after their fourth at the Olympic Games, Laudrup-Dufour has chosen the less experienced 10-year-old Vamos Amigos for her world title bid.

'Vamos' had personal bests in all three tests to beat the strong home team in Aachen and a repeat on home soil could help propel Denmark to a historic team triumph.

Since the first team event in 1966, the only countries other than West Germany or Germany to take gold have been the Soviet Union (1970) and the Netherlands (2010).

This will be Laudrup-Dufour's first World Championship appearance after her Rio 2016 mount, Atterupgaards Cassidy, was ruled unsound for Tryon.

And it could be a very special few days for Laudrup-Dufour with Cassidy having his retirement ceremony after the Grand Prix Special.

Daniel Bachmann Andersen is the only survivor from the 2018 Worlds with Carina Cassøe Krueth currently fifth in the world rankings. Nanna Merrald Rasmussen completes the line-up.

READ: Things to know about Danish dressage star and Instagram sensation Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour

Isabell Werth and Germany aim to bounce back for title defence

She may have retired her "dream horse" Bella Rose and fellow world leader Weihegold OLD earlier this year - the former at an emotional ceremony in Aachen last month - but Isabell Werth is far from finished.

The 53-year-old 12-time Olympic medallist, including seven golds, has a new partner in 12-year-old stallion DSP Quantaz although things have not gone to plan of late.

After posting close to 78% in the Grand Prix at Aachen, Werth was eliminated from the Grand Prix Special when blood was spotted in Quantaz's mouth.

Two weeks later at the Kronberg CDI4*, they scored a modest 69.48% which would not be good enough to contend for medals in Herning.

But Werth has seen it all and done it all in her career and will no doubt put up a spirited defence of her individual world title.

Von Bredow-Werndl may be absent but her brother, Benjamin Werndl, competes alongside Frederic Wandres and event star Ingrid Klimke.

The winner of two world and Olympic team gold medals in eventing, and two individual European titles, Klimke will make her first major international dressage appearance after an impressive week in Aachen where she competed in both eventing and dressage.

The 54-year-old - the daughter of 1984 Olympic dressage gold medallist and all-time great Reiner Klimke - earned the fourth team spot just ahead of Dorothee Schneider and Faustus after the Tokyo team gold medallist's top horse Showtime was ruled out due to injury.

Charlotte Dujardin leads British challenge in Herning

Charlotte Dujardin will forever be linked with Valegro after the pair won consecutive individual Olympic titles at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

And almost six years after his emotional farewell, Dujardin may have found a horse to match in the form of another gelding - nine-year-old Imhotep.

Known as 'Pete', Imhotep only made his international debut in May but scored impressive personal bests of 77.76% in the Grand Prix and 78.36% in the special a month later to take the Wellington CDI3* in England.

After that success, Dujardin told Horse and Hound, "Since Valegro, Pete is the one who's given me that feeling of so much confidence in the arena. He’s a very inexperienced Grand Prix horse, but he always tries and I absolutely love that."

That burgeoning partnership is a welcome boost for Team GB after London 2012 team gold medallist Carl Hester - who part-owns both Valegro and Imhotep - missed out on the squad after his top ride En Vogue suffered lameness.

Last September, Hester said that Imhotep was an "amazing horse" being aimed at Paris 2024 but that whether he or Dujardin would ride was something they were not talking about, describing it as "the elephant in the room!" to Horse and Hound

Tokyo 2020 team bronze medallist Charlotte 'Lottie' Fry will team up with Glamourdale in Herning and has Everdale, the sire (father) of Imhotep and her mount in Japan, as her reserve entry.

Four-time Olympian Richard Davison, 66, whose last championship appearance for Britain came at London 2012, and 2014 world team silver medallist Gareth Hughes complete the team.

Dressage World Championships 2022 Schedule

(all times local CEST - UTC+2):

Saturday 6 August

11:00 FEI World Dressage Team Championships Grand Prix

Sunday 7 August

11:00 FEI World Dressage Team Championships Grand Prix

Monday 8 August

13:30 FEI World Dressage Grand Prix Special Championship

20:30 Farewell Ceremony for Atterupgaards Cassidy

Wednesday 10 August

20:00 FEI World Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle Championship

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