Matthias & Totilas Win, Steffen Peters & Ravel Steal Hearts of Crowd in Aachen Freestyle

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Matthias Alexander Rath on Totilas and Steffen Peters on Ravel receiving a standing ovation in the Grand Prix Freestyle victory gallop. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, July 17–Totilas, ridden by Matthias Alexander Rath, won the Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday to become Dressage Champion of Aachen, but Steffen Peters and Ravel stole the hearts of the crowd who booed his runnerup score of less than one per cent from the German combination as being too low and gave the American pair the loudest and emotional cheer in the awards ceremony.

Matthias and the 11-year-old black stallion scored 82.825 per cent while Steffen and Ravel rode to new music from the movie Avatar, and performed by a 75-piece Slovakian orchestra and a choir of boys and girls received a score of an even 82.000 per cent.

Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas in the Grand Prix Freestyle. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, the only pair to beat Totilas when the stallion was ridden by his previous trainer, Edward Gal of The Netherlands, was a fraction behind on 81.775 per cent for third place.

Steffen was dressage champion in Aachen in 2009 when he and the 13-year-old gelding by Contango swept the CDIO of the Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle, and this year was the only U.S. combination from the squad of four pairs to make it through to the final 15 for the freestyle.

As it was when Edward Gal was the rider, Matthias and Totilas have become the celebrity partnership that the Aachen organizers said led to a sellout for dressage in the 5,000-seat Deutsche Bank stadium this year and the freestyle for 2012 was sold out even before this year’s competition. Between the main stadium that holds 46,000 spectators for jumping, the dressage facility, driving, eventing and vaulting, the CHIO drew a record 363,000 spectators over 10 days despite periods of rain and low temperatures.

A small sampling of the huge media contingent from around the word recording every aspect of Totilas's life. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The freestyle by Matthias, aged 26, was the first in an international competition to music composed specially for Totilas by world famous music producer Paul van Dyk, a friend of the Rath-Linsenhoff family who are owners of the son of Gribaldi with Paul Schockemöhle of Performance Sales International. He first rode to it at the German championships in Balve four weeks ago.

Totilas, who is bred three times a week at the Linsenhoff estate near Frankfurt, appeared tired and made mistakes in both the one and two-tempi changes.

“Our focus has been on the Grand Prix and the Special,” Matthias said, “but now we will have to train for the freestyle more at home.”

However, he said, the three victories made it a “perfect week” and Totilas will not do any more competitions before the European Championships in Rotterdam Aug. 17-21.

Steffen Peters and Ravel performing CDIO Grand Prix Freestyle at Aachen. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Ravel performing CDIO Grand Prix Freestyle at Aachen. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, debuted his new music from the movie Avatar that was composed by James Horner.

He watched the movie eight times, he said, “before I got it through my thick head that it was perfect for Ravel” He was on a plane at the time and when he landed in Houston, Texas, called choreographer Terri Gallo to ask her to score it.

Akiko Yamazaki, the owner of Ravel, arranged for a 75-piece orchestra and a choir of boys and girls in Slovakia to record the music. She was on hand to watch the performance in Aachen.

Jen Hlavacek, owner of Weltino's Magic that swept this year's small tour, and Akiko Yamazaki, owner of Ravel, 2009 dressage champion, at the CHIO Aachen. Both horses are ridden by Steffen Peters. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Although Steffen received the finished music only two weeks ago, Ravel was almost foot perfect in a choreography similar in most respects to the old freestyle to music by Coldplay.

The horse-savvy crowd showed their appreciation when the score was announced after the ride by loudly booing the result, letting the judges know the pair should have received higher marks.

“It felt fantastic,”” Steffen said, “I’m still searching for words to decsribe it.

“The icing on the cake was the reaction of the crowd. That was a huge honor.

“I finished fifth in the Grand Prix and the Special, so to come within fractions of Totilas and Parzival in the freestyle is amazing.”

Tears of joy from Shannon Peters, Steffen's wife. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.comWhen Totilas, Ravel and Parzival were ridden into the arena for the awards ceremony–and it looked as if everyone stayed for it–the cheer for Steffen and Ravel was louder than that for Matthias and Totilas as a sign of the crowd’s appreciation for the degree of difficulty and clean, harmonious performance by the American pair.

While Matthias did not comment directly on the crowd reaction, he said he was looking forward to the European Championships where all teams will field their best horses and riders because it will be serious competition for the medals podium “and that is good for the sport.” He singled out Great Britain whose team at Aachen did not include the combinations of Carl Hester and Uthopia and Charlotte Du Jardins and Valegro.

Adelinde echoed the feeling.

“When Totilas was ridden by Edward Gal and we competed against each other, it made me work harder to get better,” she said.

Steffen earlier this year at the age of 47 finally discarded the tail coat that he had been riding in since he was a teenager in Germany, to replace it with a sleek, buttonless coat from sponsor GPA.

He donned yet another new GPA coat, in black, at this competition. His mother sewed on the U.S. patch. His hat maker, L’Hiver, made a last-minute effort to rehab his top hat which was showing signs of wear.

Judge E : Stephen Clarke (GBR)
Judge H : Mary Seefried (AUS)
Judge C : Evi Eisenhardt (GER)
Judge M : Maribel Alonso (MEX)
Judge B : Ghislain Fouarge (NED)

Rk HORSE – Breeding
sex\colour\born\sire x siredam\
EUR E H C M B %
RIDER
owner
technical
artistic
technical
artistic
technical
artistic
technical
artistic
technical
artistic
1 Totilas – KWPN
S \ Black \ 2000 \ Gribaldi x Glendale
GER 30000 79.75 80.00 79.75 77.75 79.00 82.825
Matthias Alexander  Rath (GER)
Paul Schockemöhle, Ann-Katrin Linsenhoff
87.00 89.00 84.00 86.00 86.00
2 Ravel – KWPN
G \ Bay \ 1998 \ Contango x Democraat
USA 18000 77.25 77.00 80.50 80.50 76.75 82.000
Steffen  Peters (USA)
Akiko Four Winds Farm\Yamazaki
86.00 83.00 83.00 89.00 87.00
3 Jerich Parzival – KWPN
G \ Chestnut \ 1997 \ Jazz x Ulft
NED 13500 80.00 77.50 77.75 78.50 79.00 81.775
Adelinde  Cornelissen (NED)
W.P.J. Cornelissen & M.A. Cornelissen & H. Jerich
84.00 88.00 83.00 85.00 85.00
4 Mistral Hojris – DWB
G \ Chestnut \ 1995 \ Michellino x Ibsen
GBR 9000 78.50 79.00 75.50 77.25 75.00 79.825
Laura  Bechtolsheimer (GBR)
Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer, U. & L. Bechtolsheimer
81.00 86.00 81.00 83.00 82.00
5 Donnperignon – FWB
G \ DarkChestnut \ 1999 \ Donnerhall x Mozart II79
GER 5000 76.50 74.00 78.00 77.25 75.25 79.700
Christoph  Koschel (GER)
Hof Beckerode GmbH
81.00 84.00 83.00 84.00 84.00
6 El Santo NRW – RHEIN
G \ Bay \ 2001 \ Ehrentusch x Rhythmus
GER 3500 75.00 75.25 76.25 75.00 71.75 78.725
Isabell  Werth (GER)
Madeleine Winter-Schulze, Isabell Werth
82.00 84.00 83.00 83.00 82.00
7 Digby – DWB
G \ DarkBay \ 1997 \ Donnerhall x Sandro
DEN 2500 75.50 72.00 75.50 75.25 73.75 78.200
Nathalie zu  Sayn-Wittgenstein (DEN)
Nathalie Sayn-Wittgenstein, Dr. Michael Siebert
82.00 81.00 82.00 83.00 82.00
8 Fuego de Cardenas – PRE
S \ Grey \ 1998 \ Utrerano VII x Elegido III
ESP 1500 75.50 73.25 75.50 72.50 73.25 78.000
Juan Manuel  Muñoz Diaz (ESP)
Miguel A.de. Cardenas
84.00 81.00 80.00 83.00 82.00
9 Sisther de Jeu – KWPN
M \ Bay \ 1999 \ Gribaldi x Amor
NED 1000 72.25 73.75 73.50 72.75 71.00 77.125
Edward  Gal (NED)
Emma de Jeu
78.00 84.00 81.00 83.00 82.00
10 Favourit – RHEIN
G \ Chestnut \ 1999 \ Fidermark x Worldchamp
SWE 1000 74.00 70.25 72.50 69.75 71.25 74.975
Tinne  Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE)
Antonia Axson Johnson, Göran Ennerfelt
78.00 80.00 75.00 78.00 81.00
11 I.P.S. Tango – KWPN
S \ Chestnut \ 2000 \ Jazz x Contango
NED 1000 72.50 70.50 71.00 70.75 71.00 74.075
Hans Peter  Minderhoud (NED)
J.M. van Uytert, A.Valk
80.00 79.00 76.00 75.00 75.00
12 Fernandez – WESTF
G \ Chestnut \ 2000 \ Florestan x Weinburg
GBR 1000 70.25 69.50 75.25 70.25 69.75 73.500
Charlotte  Du Jardin (GBR)
Miss C & Mrs J Dujardin
78.00 74.00 75.00 78.00 75.00
13 Eremo del Castegno – SI
G \ Bay \ 2001 \ Rohdiamant x Weltmeyer
ITA 1000 67.75 67.00 68.00 67.50 70.75 71.700
Valentina  Truppa (ITA)
Gavan s.r.l.
72.00 73.00 75.00 75.00 81.00
14 Elmegardens Marquis – DWB
G \ Bay \ 1999 \ Michellino x Lucky Light
GBR 1000 68.50 66.50 68.00 68.25 65.00 70.725
Emile  Faurie (GBR)
Emile Faurie, Joanna Vaughan
75.00 70.00 74.00 79.00 73.00
15 Coryolano – BAY
G \ Bay \ 1996 \ Coriolan x GAJUS
IRL 1000 65.75 69.00 70.50 69.50 69.50 70.025
Anna  Merveldt (IRL)
A Merveldt
68.00 70.00 71.00 74.00 73.00