Isabell Werth won the dressage event at the World Cup final ©FEI

Six-time Olympic champion Isabell Werth and home star McLain Ward lit up the opening day of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) World Cup Finals with impressive victories in Omaha.

Germany's Werth underlined her formidable form as one of the greatest dressage riders in history by winning the opening Grand Prix event at a canter on Weihegold.

They scored 82.300 together at the CenturyLink Center to triumph by 2.5 marks over American rival Laura Graves, riding Verdades.

“I’m completely happy, but I’ll have to calm my horse down before Saturday because she got so excited in the prizegiving,” the Rio 2016 team champion and individual silver medallist said afterwards.

However, Graves will remain hopeful that she will be able to narrow the gap in the decisive freestyle test on Saturday (April 1).

“I think anything is possible," she declared. 

McLain Ward won the opening round of the Jumping World Cup final ©FEI
McLain Ward won the opening round of the Jumping World Cup final ©FEI

Britain's Carl Hester took third place with a score of 76.671 on Nip Tuck.

The host nation went one better in the opening jumping speed event as Ward rode HH Azur to a blistering time of 59.27sec. 

He only won by a whisker as Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann took second place on Mary Lou with 59.58.

They would have been even closer had it not been for a small error between the second and third fences.

London 2012 Olympic champion Steve Guerdat finished third on Bianca in 60.06.

The World Cup Finals are scheduled to continue until Sunday (April 2).