In Holland, One Eye on World Cup & Other on New Olympic Prospects

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Imke Schellekens Bartels and Hunter Douglas Toots. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, The Netherlands, April 18–The World Cup starts Thursday as the finale of the indoor circuit but the focus has already shifted to the Olympics in summer, and two of Holland’s hottest new prospects were on display Wednesday.

Hunter Douglas Toots ridden by Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Glock’s Undercover ridden by Edward Gal both showed off their impressive gaits in a training session ahead of Thursday’s CDI4* Grand Prix that is being held in conjunction with the World Cup Final.

Both horses are given a good shot at representing The Netherlands in London as the country gets to send a team of three and an individual to the Games.

Although both horses are inexperienced, the riders are among the the elite in experience and talent.

Since the sale of Totilas to Germany and retirement or aging of horses, The Netherlands has found itself with only Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen in the top tier of the world rankings–the pair are No. 1. The newer combinations are Imke and Toots, Edward and Undercover and Romanov, Patrick van der Meer and Uzzo and Hans Peter Minderhoud and Tango, but who also has a new talent in his stables that is being eyed as a prospect.

Imke, who competed Sunrise for Holland at the 2008 Olympics as well as the 2006  and 2010 World Equestrian Games, showed Toots at small tour at major venues, including the World Equstrian Festival in Aachen, Germany.

She rode Toots ((Jazz x Milleke x Havidoff) to victory in the first CDI Grand Prix and a sweep of the competition for the 12-year-old black KWPN gelding two weeks ago.

The CDI4* will be only the fourth Grand Prix for the pair.

In the training session Wednesday, the 18.2-hand (1.88m) black gelding towered over the half dozen other horses in the arena at the same time.

Glock Undercover being ridden by Edward Gal. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Edward Gal also showed off Glock Undercover (Ferro x Mimosavrouwe x Donnerhall), 11-year old black gelding.

Undercover was already trained to Grand Prix by Stefano van Zuijlen, but has not competed in CDIs.

Edward has been one of the world’s top trainers for the past decade with the world-beating Totilas sold to Germany and other horses such as Lingh and Ravel, both going to the United States, as well as Gribaldi. Although he has had success with Sisther de Jeu and Next One, neither horse has attained Grand Prix scores above the mid-70 per cent range.

However, with Undercover, the first horse from new sponsor Gaston Glock, Edward could quickly move back into prominence.

The black Undercover is what one observer noted Wednesday is a “piaffe and passage machine.”

Edward Gal riding Glock Undercover. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Although Edward on Totilas set scoring records at all three Grand Prix levels and has competed at numerous championships including World Equestrian Games–the pair won three gold medals at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky–he has never competed in an Olympics.