The Future for Totilas?

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Matthias Alexander Rath on Sterntaler-UNICEF at World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
New rider for Totilas? Matthias Alexander Rath on Sterntaler-UNICEF at World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Speculation is rampant as to the new rider of Totilas sold to Paul Schockemöhle in Germany whose Performance Sales International breeding and sales operations are perhaps the largest and most effective for show horses anywhere in the world.

While trained and ridden by Edward Gal of the Netherlands, the 10-year-old black stallion son of Gribaldi, was the most dominant competition horse. In his first appearance at the premier events around the globe, Totilas won team and individual gold at the European Championships in Windsor, England, in 2009, the World Cup title in 2010, a sweep of the CDIO titles at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, in 2010, and all three gold medals up for grabs at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.

What’s left? The Olympics. Those Games won’t be an option until 2012 in London.

So, having been sold in a career that may be only at its beginning but until the 2012 Olympics could only repeat what has been achieved–more World Cup, European and Aachen titles–and already having established world records at the three Grand Prix levels, including the first to breach 90 per cent, the questions now are about the future.

With 2010 as a measuring stick in his first year as a breeding stallion, more than 350 applications from 15 countries at €5,500 (US$7,750) per breeding were available but the owners limited the number to about 175.

One can only guess at the quality of Totilas offspring at this stage as the first progeny will not be seen until 2011.

But Sandro Hit, bred and marketed by PSI with a breeding price less than half of Totilas, has already earned as much as the purchase price of Totilas, variously estimated at between €9.5 million to €15 million (US$13.33-21 million).

Figuring the PSI resources–400 brood mares in a complete and self-contained breeding operation–and marketing smarts coupled with the capabilities and survival instincts of German breeders, the purchase price may not be a risky investment.

While Totilas is registered KWPN, he has Trakehner in his pedigree (Kostolany, on Gribaldi’s side) that provides a firm German heritage, if it’s necessary.

The buzz is that PSI is not bearing the entire purchase price.

Matthias Alexander Rath, the very talented 26-year-old German team rider, according to this scenario, will get the ride thanks to his stepmother, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff. She is said by sources to have invested in the purchase so Germany has a prospective star for the 2012 Olympics in London. Her own competition career was cut short by lymes disease and, associates say, she views Matthias as her successor to fulfill her ambitions.

Sterntaler-UNICEF that Matthias rode successfully at the 2009 Europeans and the 2010 WEG is 15 years old, is not consistent and highly unlikely to be a prospect for London. Plus, the buzz goes, Germany is used to the top of the medals podium and not the third place which they have now been relegated to at both the 2009 Europeans and the 2010 WEG, behind the Netherlands and Great Britain.

Other names have also been bandied about, including riders already established or training at PSI.

Meantime, Edward Gal, now the ex-rider and trainer of Totilas, is in the same position as he was when Lingh, the stallion then on the down slope of his career, was sold to Karen Offield of the United States, as was the then-stallion TC Ravel who became the WEG medal-winning ride for Steffen Peters of the United States.

In the same way as they found Totilas as a replacement for Lingh and Ravel, Kees and Tosca Visser have promised to find new horses for Edward to train and compete at the highest levels of the sport.