Netherlands Gold (& World Record Grand Prix Score for Totilas), Great Britain Silver, Germany Bronze at European Championships

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Edward Gal celebrating his world record Grand Prix score on Moorlands Totilas. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Edward Gal celebrating his world record Grand Prix score on Moorlands Totilas. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WINDSOR, England, Aug. 26–The Netherlands, led by a world record Grand Prix score by Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas, on Wednesday won the gold medal for the second consecutive European Championships. Great Britain won their first ever silver medal to push Germany to the bronze for their worst finish ever in the Nations Cup at the championships.

The world record Grand Prix score of 84.085 per cent following Tuesday’s championship record by team mates Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival put the icing on the cake for The Netherlands’ second consecutive gold at the biennial championships which until 2007 had always been won by Germany until 2007’s silver.

The Dutch gold medal team of Anky van Grunsven, Imke Schellekens-Bartels, Adelinde Cornelissen and Edward Gal in a horseless victory gallop. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The Dutch gold medal team of Anky van Grunsven, Imke Schellekens-Bartels, Adelinde Cornelissen and Edward Gal in a horseless victory gallop. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The stadium on the grounds of Windsor Castle erupted in cheers from the British fans for their home side success when Emma Hindle and Lancet were the last riders on their team and scored 72/936 per cent that put them into the silver medal spot.

Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris had assured Great Britain of a medal earlier Wednesday when they scored a record high for them of 76.638 per cent to put them in third place individually behind the two top Dutch combinations. (See related story: Changing of the Guard).

Great Britain's Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris after their third place finish that led to the team silver meda. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Great Britain's Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris after their third place finish that led to the team silver meda. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Emma Hindle on Lancet when she hears the news that her score helped Great Britain win the silver medal for the first time in history. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Emma Hindle on Lancet when she hears the news that her score helped Great Britain win the silver medal for the first time in history. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Then the tears came for Emma Hindle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Then the tears came for Emma Hindle. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

That The Netherlands would win the gold was already decided when Anky an Grunsven and Salinero, winners of a treasure trove of medals at the Olympic, World and European Championships and the World posted a score of 73.872 per cent–that was substantially lower than her team mates Gal/Totilas and Cornelissen/Parzival–who both scored over 80 per cent. Her ride was a testament to the skills of van Grunsven and Salinero as it was bookended by dismal scores for their oft noted “halts” that are more like California stops.

The first movement of the ride by Anky van Grunsven and Salinero. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The first movement of the ride by Anky van Grunsven and Salinero. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anky van Grunsven and Salinero displayed many of their trademark strengths in the heart of their ride. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Anky van Grunsven and Salinero displayed many of their trademark strengths in the heart of their ride. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The final movement, as at the beginning, kept Anky van Grunsven and Salinero from their typical lofty scores. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The final movement, as at the beginning, kept Anky van Grunsven and Salinero from their typical lofty scores. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The stadium within Windor Castle’s sprawling woodlands and miles of beautifully manicured lawns went into almost utter silence interspersed by gasps of astonishment as two combinations after Hindle and Lancet Gal and Totilas produced a performance that was showered with 10s. (see separate Photo Gallery of the Gal/Totilas scoreboards).

The nine-year-old Gribaldi stallion was as powerful and awe-impsiring at the end as he was at the beginning. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The nine-year-old Gribaldi stallion was as powerful and awe-impsiring at the end as he was at the beginning. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Gal said after the distraction of the clicking of camera and the crowd biggest championship stage so far., “you have to be careful how much pressure you put on him because when it goes wrong it goes REALLY wrong!”

Hours before the ride, Gal was vomiting from the tension of almost unrealistic expectations that they would conquer these championships like no one before them in only their seventh Grand Prix start.

And to add to the worries, Totilas was cast in the small tent stall on each of the past two nights. But his round the clock watcher quickly helped him get to his feet and there was no effect.

Their world record Grand Prix musical freestyle score just a month earlier in the Exquis World Dressage Masters at Britain’s Hickstead just 40 miles (64km) away from Windsor also led to high expectations.

The expectations were surpassed.

“I was so relieved when I looked at the scores at the end and I knew it had gone good,” he said.

Edward Gal in tears as he walks Ravel out of the arena after their world record Grand Prix score at the European Championships. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Edward Gal in tears as he walks Moorlands Totilas out of the arena after their world record Grand Prix score at the European Championships. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Gal related the story of how he and Tosca Visser, who with her husband own Moorland Stables that owns Totilas, found the stallion near their home in The Netherlands after searching for a ride for Gal for six months.

“”When I first got on him, for maybe three seconds, I thought I was going to die,” he recalled. The horse so powerful he was worried for his safety.

The second time he took a rider from his stable who got on Totilas and pronounced him safe enough.

Now, he believes that the only obstacle to Totilas attaining his full potential is his relative youth, adding:

“We’ve had lots of offers for him but he’s not for sale – as long as I want to ride him he will not be sold and I want to ride him until we score 100 per cent!”

The British team of Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris, Emma Hindle on Lancet, Carl Hester on Liebling II and Maria Eilberg on Two Sox had gone into the championships pinning their hopes on a bronze medal, as they had won twice before at the Europeans.

Great Britain's team of (left to right) Maria Eilberg, Laura Bechtolsheimer, Carl Hester and Emma Hindle soaking up the accolades of the crowd in their victory "stroll." © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Great Britain's team of (left to right) Maria Eilberg, Laura Bechtolsheimer, Carl Hester and Emma Hindle soaking up the accolades of the crowd in their victory "stroll." © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Laura said.

Carl said the medal meant so much to him that “if I was forced to retire nowI could do so very happily.”

The German team was upbeat about the unprecedented third place finish.

Matthias Akexander Rath riding Sterntaler-Unicef in their first ever championship posted their highest ever score, 75.617 per cent, to finish in fourth place individually.

Monica Theodorescu, who rode her 2008 Olympic reserve horse Whisper for 72.430 per cent and 10th place, commented on the fact that Germany’s top horse and rider combinations were sidelined for a variety of reasons, said:

“Though many people in Germany and elsewhere thought we were a loser team, that we would not even finish in the medals, we are not a loser team. It could have been a lot worse. We pulled together as a team. We are very happy with our bronze medals.”

The top 30 finishers–who will go on to the Grand Prix Special on Thursday. For the full list of scores go to to the Home Page and click on results.

1. Moorlands Totilas Edward Gal NED 388 395 390 401 402 1976
82.553% 84.043% 82.979% 85.319% 85.532% 84.085%
2. Parzival Adelinde Cornelissen NED 382 375 386 377 375 1895
81.277% 79.787% 82.128% 80.213% 79.787% 80.638%
3. Mistral Hojris Laura Bechtolsheimer GBR 361 358 355 370 357 1801
76.809% 76.170% 75.532% 78.723% 75.957% 76.638%
4. Sterntaler-Unicef Matthias Alexander Rath GER 356 354 352 367 348 1777
75.745% 75.319% 74.894% 78.085% 74.043% 75.617%
5. Augustin OLD Victoria Max-Theurer AUT 350 347 348 349 345 1739
74.468% 73.830% 74.043% 74.255% 73.404% 74.000%
6. Salinero Anky van Grunsven NED 349 352 349 337 349 1736
74.255% 74.894% 74.255% 71.702% 74.255% 73.872%
7. Hunter Douglas Sunrise Imke Schellekens-Bartels NED 346 344 325 362 342 1719
73.617% 73.191% 69.149% 77.021% 72.766% 73.149%
8. Lancet Emma Hindle GBR 341 335 346 345 347 1714
72.553% 71.277% 73.617% 73.404% 73.830% 72.936%
9. Digby Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein DEN 344 342 335 348 344 1713
73.191% 72.766% 71.277% 74.043% 73.191% 72.894%
10. Favourit Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven SWE 338 343 343 342 334 1700
71.915% 72.979% 72.979% 72.766% 71.064% 72.340%
10. Whisper Monica Theodorescu GER 340 334 342 347 337 1700
72.340% 71.064% 72.766% 73.830% 71.702% 72.340%
12. Watermill Scandic H.B.C. Patrick Kittel SWE 338 335 350 343 332 1698
71.915% 71.277% 74.468% 72.979% 70.638% 72.255%
13. Liebling II Carl Hester GBR 335 339 339 344 337 1694
71.277% 72.128% 72.128% 73.191% 71.702% 72.085%
14. Max Kyra Kyrklund FIN 340 333 341 342 336 1692
72.340% 70.851% 72.553% 72.766% 71.489% 72.000%
15. Potomac Susanne Lebek GER 337 327 348 334 329 1675
71.702% 69.574% 74.043% 71.064% 70.000% 71.277%
16. Tannenhof’s Carabas Andreas Helgstrand DEN 331 335 335 328 335 1664
70.426% 71.277% 71.277% 69.787% 71.277% 70.809%
17. Donatha S Ellen Schulten-Baumer GER 333 328 336 329 334 1660
70.851% 69.787% 71.489% 70.000% 71.064% 70.638%
18. Cointreau Peter Gmoser AUT 328 328 331 335 327 1649
69.787% 69.787% 70.426% 71.277% 69.574% 70.170%
19. Don Charly Minna Telde SWE 332 325 337 324 326 1644
70.638% 69.149% 71.702% 68.936% 69.362% 69.957%
20. Fuego XII Juan Manuel Muñoz Diaz ESP 324 327 334 321 333 1639
68.936% 69.574% 71.064% 68.298% 70.851% 69.745%
21. Exquis Clearwater Anne van Olst DEN 322 324 333 324 328 1631
68.511% 68.936% 70.851% 68.936% 69.787% 69.404%
22. Balagur Alexandra Korelova RUS 325 324 326 327 324 1626
69.149% 68.936% 69.362% 69.574% 68.936% 69.191%
23. Coryolano Anna Merveldt IRL 323 313 330 323 319 1608
68.723% 66.596% 70.213% 68.723% 67.872% 68.426%
24. Regent Christian Pläge SUI 320 315 336 310 319 1600
68.085% 67.021% 71.489% 65.957% 67.872% 68.085%
25. Gredstedgards Casmir Sune Hansen DEN 322 316 319 324 318 1599
68.511% 67.234% 67.872% 68.936% 67.660% 68.043%
26. Two Sox Maria Eilberg GBR 326 316 314 320 320 1596
69.362% 67.234% 66.809% 68.085% 68.085% 67.915%
27. Ekwador Katarzyna Milczarek POL 313 309 325 319 323 1589
66.596% 65.745% 69.149% 67.872% 68.723% 67.617%
28. Galliano Maria Eriksson SWE 309 310 316 324 314 1573
65.745% 65.957% 67.234% 68.936% 66.809% 66.936%
29. Corinth Marcela Krinke Susmelj SUI 308 313 320 318 306 1565
65.532% 66.596% 68.085% 67.660% 65.106% 66.596%
30. Apollo van het Vijverhof Jeroen Devroe BEL 311 306 311 309 314 1551
66.170% 65.106% 66.170% 65.745% 66.809% 66.000%