Moorlands Totilas Ridden by Edward Gal to World Record Score of 89.400 per cent
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
HICKSTEAD, England, July 26–Moorlands Totilas, perhaps the greatest dressage horse in modern history, was ridden by Edward Gal to a world record score of 89.400 per cent in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the €100,000 (US$140,000) Exquis World Dressage Masters at Hickstead.
The score by the nine-year-old black stallion was 7.200 percentage points higher than his compatriot and second placed Adeline Cornelissen on Parzival at 82.200 per cent. Third place went to homeland favorite Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris on 81.800 per cent.
The Freestyle carried total prize money of €60,000 (US$84,000). Totilas and Gal won the €10,000 (US$14,000) Grand Prix Saturday, in the pair’s first performance outside The Netherlands since moving up to Grand Prix.
The €40,000 (US$56,000) Grand Prix Special earlier Sunday was won by the USA’s Leslie Morse on Tip Top 962 with a score of 71.667 per cent, showing their top form since winning the U.S. National Championship at Gladstone, New Jersey, almost two months ago. Hans Peter Minderhoud on Exquis Escapado of The Netherlands was second with 71.542 per cent while Great Britain’s Maria Eilberg on Two Sox was third with 67.625 per cent.
Although there was a contingent of the world’s top riders from The Netherlands, no Dutch flag flew over the competition arena and one was not raised during the playing of the national anthem.
A huge crowd, many of them in tears along with owners Kees and Tosca Visser, were stunned by the performance in rainy, cold weather. And Gal got a fly in his eye in the warmup and could not get it out until after returning to the stables after the awards. There were a couple of minor errors, a mistake in the one-tempis, for example, but he said he decided not to repeat the movement.
“It felt unbelievable. I’ve never felt anything like it. I don’t know what to say,” he told dressage-news.com after Totilas was put back in his stall.
Totilas was still not settled on to the English showground in time for Saturday’s Grand Prix, so he gave the horse a 20-minute workout Sunday morning and it worked.
“It’s amazing that I know there is still room for improvement,” he said of Totilas that was bought by the Vissers of Moorland Stables three years ago.
“Where will it end?
“He does it by himself. He wants to do it. He enjoys it.”
Stephen Clarke, the judge at “C,” told dressage-news.com the ride was the “the best I have ever seen. It was an honor for us all to be here to witness it.”
Gal said when he first tried Totilas, “it was a little scary. He felt like he could explode at any time.”
The breeders invited him to return to keep riding the horse, and a month later Moorland bought him.
“We didn’t know it could be as special as this,” he said, especially after his major Grand Prix mount, Lingh, that he rode in the 2005 World Cup in Las Vegas to beat his then trainer, Anky van Grunsven, in the Grand Prix. The horse was sold to Karin Reed Offield of the United States in 2006.
“Now I am getting used to the horse but it is so thrilling that every time he shows the crowd love him that it fills me with new enthusiasm”.
The next competition for Totilas will be the European Championships in Windsor, England next month and then the horse will get a month off while Gal and the owners decide on the winter schedule.
He said that Totilas will not be bred until his competition career is over.
Leslie Morse’s ride on Tip Top had a mistake when she was so focused on being on point that she forgot to ride the half-passes and had to go back and complete the movement, She recovered so quickly that it did not affect the quality of the ride that she said she was “ecstatic” about.
“We’e had two wonderful rides in the Grand Prix Saturday and the Special Sunday,” said the Beverly Hilla, California resident.
The 15-year-old stallion, she said, is coming into his own and feels like he will reach full performance during the rest of their European tour that includes two more competitions, one in Germany and the other in Belgium.
The pair will return to California and work toward their goal of representing the U.S. at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Dressage-news.com will be posting an extensive Photo Gallery of the Exquis World Dressage Masters at Hickstead.
For complete scores of Dressage at Hickstead and other major competitions go to the Home Page and click on RESULTS.