Totilas Wins Gold, Mistral Hojris Silver, Ravel Bronze in WEG Grand Prix Special
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Sept. 29–Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas won the gold medal for the Grand Prix Special at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Wednesday, with Great Britain’s Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris and USA’s Steffen Peters on Ravel winning the first ever WEG individual medals for their nations.
Edward and Totilas are heading along with the other top 14 combinations to the Freestyle under lights Friday night and a chance to become the first to win all three dressage gold medals. A team and one individual medal only were awarded up until 2006 when a championship for the Grand Prix Special was set at the WEG that was first held in 1990 and held every four years since. This WEG is the first outside Europe.
Edward and Totilas were placed first by all five judges for a score of 85.708 per cent with Laura and Mistral on 81.708 per cent, with only Linda Zang of the U.S.placing her third and Steffen and Ravel on 78.542 per cent with Linda Zang placing him second and Canada’s Cara Whitham placed him fourth.
The dressage competition has been the most exciting ever at a WEG and has boosted attendance at these Games in the Kentucky Horse Park. Attendance was reported as 31,026 for Wednesday, pushing the total for the first five days of the 16-day event to more than 100,000. That includes grounds passes that do not provide admission to the competitions and thousands of tickets given away to area schools.
From the 65 horses and riders that started in the Grand Prix team competition Monday that was won by the Netherlands with Britain second and Germany third, 31 moved into the Special.
The Grand Prix Special was the first WEG dressage competition in which there was no German on the medals podium. Isabell Werth who has been Germany’s most decorated rider finished 10th Wednesday, surpassed in the final standings by two of her team mates who are also team rookies.
In unprecedented unanimity, the five judges all awarded 10s for the final piaffe and all 10s for rider position to Edward and the 10-year-old black stallion. Laura and Mistral Hojris recorded four 10s for the final piaffe.
Totilas, Edward said, “felt much more relaxed today and I could really take more risks… and it paid off.”
The 25-year-old Laura Bechtolsheimer said she was excited to be a part of a sport that is developing so fast in so many countries.
“It was Anky (van Grunsven) or Isabell (Werth), that was given,” she said.
“Now there are quite a few of us who have a chance and will fight for it.”
Steffen Peters admitted publicly for the first time how much missing the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics had affected him, so much so that he had counted the months, days and hours since.
“When I finally stood on the podium today I found myself wiping away tears,” he said. “I can now place that (Hong Kong) fourth place behind me.”
The crowd-pleasing partnership of Spain’s Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz and his PRE stallion Fuego X11 scored 76.842 per cent to put them just out of a medal position.
Holland’s Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise placed fifth on 74.792 per cent.
Christoph Koschel, the son of the legendary trainer Jürgen Koschel but a rookie on Germany’s premier team, was the top finisher for his nation in sixth place with 73.292 per cent. Germany was the only country to qualify all four team riders through to the freestyle limited to 15 combinations. But a limit of no more than three from a single country meant that Matthias Alexcander Rath on Sterntaler UNICEF was not accepted for the freestyle. Anabel Balkenhol on Dablino made a strong recovery from a score that became controversial for a disparity of 10 percentage points between the highest and lowest scores in the Grand Prix to finish eighth.
Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the 35-year-old Dane, slipped into seventh place on Digby, although she gave birth to a baby boy, Konstantin, only three months ago.
Brett Parbery on Victory Salute became Australia’s most successful international dressage rider to score 72.167 per cent and place ninth.
Complete Grand Prix Special results:
||E. Gal||Moorlands Totilas||85.708||2057|
||L. Bechtolsheimer||Mistral Hojris||81.708||1961|
||J. Muñoz Diaz||Fuego XII||76.042||1825|
||I. Schellekens-Bartels||Hunter Douglas Sunrise||74.792||1795|
||B. Parbery||Victory Salute||72.167||1732|
||I. Werth||Warum Nicht FRH||72.000||1728|
||A. Holzer||Pop Art||71.708||1721|
||M. Krinke Susmelj||Corinth||70.417||1690|
||F. Bigwood||Wie-Atlantico de Ymas||69.708||1673|
||C. Hester||Liebling II||69.417||1666|
||A. van Olst||Exquis Clearwater||68.958||1655|
||T. Konyot||Calecto V||68.625||1647|
||M. Eilberg||Two Sox||68.500||1644|
||H. Minderhoud||Exquis Nadine||68.333||1640|
||J. Garcia Mena||Norte||68.000||1632|
||E. Kanerva||Sini Spirit||67.667||1624|
||R. Sanna||Jaybee Alabaster||67.000||1608|
||M. Telde||Larina – Höm||66.042||1585|
||L. Jebsen||Pro – Set||65.583||1574|
||S. Hansen||Gredstedgårds Casmir||64.708||1553|
||H. Hoketsu||Whisper 115||61.625||1479|