Edward Gal and the super-stallion Moorlands Totilas overcame all the pressure and tension to claim the 25th anniversary FEI World Cup Dressage title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands on March 27. (Video on page 3.)
Gal’s stallion was heavily favored to take the honors throughout the entire 2009/2010 FEI World Cup Dressage season, during which he secured his third record-breaking score of 2009 at London Olympia (England) last December.
But two days ago fellow Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen took advantage of an edgy test from her teammate to win the preliminary Grand Prix with a great performance from Jerich Parzival, and for the first time in a long while, Gal’s stallion began to look vulnerable.
Today, however, he was considerably more composed as he strutted his way to victory by a margin of almost 7 percentage points.
“When I came into the arena I thought it could be better—and it was!” said the relieved 40-year-old rider who clinched the trophy for the Netherlands for the 10th time.
He Made The Trip Worthwhile
Brett Parbery made his trip all the way from New South Wales, Australia, worthwhile when opening the freestyle finale with a great rhythmic test from the 14-year-old Victory Salute which earned a mark of 70.55 percent, but, second-last to go before the half-way break, Germany’s Carola Koppelmann and her veteran 17-year-old Le Bo put 73.20 percent on the board.
However it was Denmark’s Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein who was in the lead going into the second half of the competition after producing a relaxed, pleasing performance from Digby that achieved a score of 75.15 percent.
That remained the target until Cornelissen and Parzival set off four horses later, and the chestnut gelding’s easy elevation, natural rhythm and powerful movement was complemented by a creative new routine that particularly highlighted his athleticism in pirouette.
However, Cornelissen admitted afterwards that she had only practiced the routine once before today’s competition, and that her mistake in the one-tempi changes, when Parzival simply stopped executing them, was entirely her own.
“It was quite a risk. I kept thinking about where I was in the test, and I stopped asking him to do the changes, so he stopped doing them, but then I remembered again and he continued—it wasn’t his fault, it was completely mine!” she insisted.
However she finished with a dramatic flourish by following a canter pirouette to the right with another to the left, and her score of 82.85 percent put her well out in front.
“My new musical score is created by Pyntago—it is a medley of Tchaikovsky. I left it to them to decided what music to use because I like every style of music from rock and roll to classical to country music—they have done a great job, because I felt Parzival needed lighter and happier music to match his personality, and this is great!” said Cornelissen.
She Rode An Accurate Test
Isabell Werth’s settled and accurate test from Warum Nicht left the German double World Cup champion temporarily in runner-up spot with a mark of 79.85 percent, but she was immediately demoted by the Netherlands’ Imke Schellekens-Bartels whose elegant mare, Hunter Douglas Sunrise, has been performing at her very best this season.
“She was so good and so loose, she has never felt better, and I am so happy—she has been in the best form life this year,” said Schellekens-Bartels.
Sweden’s Patrik Kittel was the penultimate rider to take his turn, and he scored a big hit with the ‘s-Hertogenbosch spectators this week. He rode a test they again thoroughly enjoyed, but, to their dismay, it only put a score of 76.55 percent on the board, so when Gal and Totilas set off it was Cornelissen and Parzival they were chasing.
Gal was concerned that his horse would again become over-excited as he passed the crowd on his way into the arena, which had happened two days earlier, but to his delight Totilas was much more concentrated and began with extended trot that displayed all of his trademark extravagance.
“I could feel it was going to be better, and in the middle of the test I started to breathe again, and it was much more relaxed,” he said afterwards.
He sets such high standards for himself and this horse that nothing less than excellence will do. “That’s part of the pressure of riding him,” he explained.
As his mark of 89.80 percent went up on the board however, he knew he had done more than enough—the FEI World Cup Dressage title was safely in his hands.
High Standards Across The Board
Isabell Werth has high standards too, but she acknowledged today how high the bar has been raised in the sport over the past 12 months.
“The Dutch riders are strong, but we don’t give up—we will just fight to get closer and closer to them,” she said.
Ground Jury President Francis Verbeek commented, “The riders all did a super job, and I was so pleased for Edward that he could come back from a not-so-good test on Thursday, but I also want to congratulate our local hero Imke Schellekens-Bartels who did so well.”
Imke explained that her challenge with Sunrise is to ride the thin line between relaxation and impulsion. “I believe I can still improve on that, and I must try if I want to keep up with my other Dutch teammates!” she said.
For Gal, however, today’s win made up for the deep disappointment of Thursday’s Grand Prix result and put Moorlands Totilas back in his rightful place.
“I know he’s special, and he deserves to win, and on Thursday I was so upset for him and so surprised when he was tense because he’s not usually like that. The thing about him is that he has so much power, and sometimes he can use it against you. Today he worked with me instead, and I am very, very happy!” he said.
Watch Gal and Totilas perform.
- Moorlands Totilas, Edward Gal (NED) 89.80%
- Jerich Parzival, Adelinde Cornelissen (NED) 82.85
- Hunter Douglas Sunrise, Imke Schellekens-Bartels (NED) 82.15%
- Warum Nicht, Isabell Werth (GER) 79.75
- Watermill Scandic, Patrik Kittel (SWE) 76.55
- Digby, Nathalie Zu Syan-Wittgenstein (DEN) 75.15
- Le Bo, Carola Koppelmann (GER) 73.25
- Triviant-Unicef, Matthias Alexander Rath (GER) 72.05
- Apollo Van Het Vijverhof, Jeroen Devroe (BEL) 71.85
- Victory Salute, Brett Parbery (AUS) 70.55
- Edwador, Katarzyna Milczarek (POL) 68.90
- Favourit, Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) 68.25
- Randon, Michal Rapcewicz (POL) 67.10
- Cointreau, Peter Gmoser (AUT) 66.45
- Samba, Luiza Almeida (BRA) 61.55
For full results go to IndoorBrabant.com.
Facts And Figures
- Today’s series victory by Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas is the 10th for the Netherlands—the previous nine were achieved by Anky van Grunsven.
- The oldest horse in the competition was the 17-year-old Le Bo who finished seventh for Germany’s Carola Koppelmann
- The youngest rider was 18-year-old Luiza Almeida from Brazil who slotted into 15th position with her Lusitano stallion Samba.
- The first two horses were from the KWPN studbook—Moorlands Totilas by Gribaldi and the gelding Jerich Parzival by Jazz. The next two placings were filled by Hanoverians—Hunter Douglas Sunrise by Singular Joter in third and Warum Nicht FRH by Weltmeyer in fourth.
- In total there were four KWPN horses among the 15 starters while the Hanoverian studbook was represented by three.
- The winner’s purse in today’s final was almost $75,000, while second place was worth $56,000 and third $37,000.