Netherlands Gold (& World Record Grand Prix Score for Totilas), Great Britain Silver, Germany Bronze at European Championships
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WINDSOR, England, Aug. 26–The Netherlands, led by a world record Grand Prix score by Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas, on Wednesday won the gold medal for the second consecutive European Championships. Great Britain won their first ever silver medal to push Germany to the bronze for their worst finish ever in the Nations Cup at the championships.
The world record Grand Prix score of 84.085 per cent following Tuesday’s championship record by team mates Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival put the icing on the cake for The Netherlands’ second consecutive gold at the biennial championships which until 2007 had always been won by Germany until 2007’s silver.
The stadium on the grounds of Windsor Castle erupted in cheers from the British fans for their home side success when Emma Hindle and Lancet were the last riders on their team and scored 72/936 per cent that put them into the silver medal spot.
Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris had assured Great Britain of a medal earlier Wednesday when they scored a record high for them of 76.638 per cent to put them in third place individually behind the two top Dutch combinations. (See related story: Changing of the Guard).
That The Netherlands would win the gold was already decided when Anky an Grunsven and Salinero, winners of a treasure trove of medals at the Olympic, World and European Championships and the World posted a score of 73.872 per cent–that was substantially lower than her team mates Gal/Totilas and Cornelissen/Parzival–who both scored over 80 per cent. Her ride was a testament to the skills of van Grunsven and Salinero as it was bookended by dismal scores for their oft noted “halts” that are more like California stops.
The stadium within Windor Castle’s sprawling woodlands and miles of beautifully manicured lawns went into almost utter silence interspersed by gasps of astonishment as two combinations after Hindle and Lancet Gal and Totilas produced a performance that was showered with 10s. (see separate Photo Gallery of the Gal/Totilas scoreboards).
Gal said after the distraction of the clicking of camera and the crowd biggest championship stage so far., “you have to be careful how much pressure you put on him because when it goes wrong it goes REALLY wrong!”
Hours before the ride, Gal was vomiting from the tension of almost unrealistic expectations that they would conquer these championships like no one before them in only their seventh Grand Prix start.
And to add to the worries, Totilas was cast in the small tent stall on each of the past two nights. But his round the clock watcher quickly helped him get to his feet and there was no effect.
Their world record Grand Prix musical freestyle score just a month earlier in the Exquis World Dressage Masters at Britain’s Hickstead just 40 miles (64km) away from Windsor also led to high expectations.
The expectations were surpassed.
“I was so relieved when I looked at the scores at the end and I knew it had gone good,” he said.
Gal related the story of how he and Tosca Visser, who with her husband own Moorland Stables that owns Totilas, found the stallion near their home in The Netherlands after searching for a ride for Gal for six months.
“”When I first got on him, for maybe three seconds, I thought I was going to die,” he recalled. The horse so powerful he was worried for his safety.
The second time he took a rider from his stable who got on Totilas and pronounced him safe enough.
Now, he believes that the only obstacle to Totilas attaining his full potential is his relative youth, adding:
“We’ve had lots of offers for him but he’s not for sale – as long as I want to ride him he will not be sold and I want to ride him until we score 100 per cent!”
The British team of Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris, Emma Hindle on Lancet, Carl Hester on Liebling II and Maria Eilberg on Two Sox had gone into the championships pinning their hopes on a bronze medal, as they had won twice before at the Europeans.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Laura said.
Carl said the medal meant so much to him that “if I was forced to retire nowI could do so very happily.”
The German team was upbeat about the unprecedented third place finish.
Matthias Akexander Rath riding Sterntaler-Unicef in their first ever championship posted their highest ever score, 75.617 per cent, to finish in fourth place individually.
Monica Theodorescu, who rode her 2008 Olympic reserve horse Whisper for 72.430 per cent and 10th place, commented on the fact that Germany’s top horse and rider combinations were sidelined for a variety of reasons, said:
“Though many people in Germany and elsewhere thought we were a loser team, that we would not even finish in the medals, we are not a loser team. It could have been a lot worse. We pulled together as a team. We are very happy with our bronze medals.”
The top 30 finishers–who will go on to the Grand Prix Special on Thursday. For the full list of scores go to to the Home Page and click on results.
|1.||Moorlands Totilas||Edward Gal||NED||388||395||390||401||402||1976|
|3.||Mistral Hojris||Laura Bechtolsheimer||GBR||361||358||355||370||357||1801|
|4.||Sterntaler-Unicef||Matthias Alexander Rath||GER||356||354||352||367||348||1777|
|5.||Augustin OLD||Victoria Max-Theurer||AUT||350||347||348||349||345||1739|
|6.||Salinero||Anky van Grunsven||NED||349||352||349||337||349||1736|
|7.||Hunter Douglas Sunrise||Imke Schellekens-Bartels||NED||346||344||325||362||342||1719|
|9.||Digby||Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein||DEN||344||342||335||348||344||1713|
|12.||Watermill Scandic H.B.C.||Patrick Kittel||SWE||338||335||350||343||332||1698|
|13.||Liebling II||Carl Hester||GBR||335||339||339||344||337||1694|
|16.||Tannenhof’s Carabas||Andreas Helgstrand||DEN||331||335||335||328||335||1664|
|17.||Donatha S||Ellen Schulten-Baumer||GER||333||328||336||329||334||1660|
|19.||Don Charly||Minna Telde||SWE||332||325||337||324||326||1644|
|20.||Fuego XII||Juan Manuel Muñoz Diaz||ESP||324||327||334||321||333||1639|
|21.||Exquis Clearwater||Anne van Olst||DEN||322||324||333||324||328||1631|
|25.||Gredstedgards Casmir||Sune Hansen||DEN||322||316||319||324||318||1599|
|26.||Two Sox||Maria Eilberg||GBR||326||316||314||320||320||1596|
|29.||Corinth||Marcela Krinke Susmelj||SUI||308||313||320||318||306||1565|
|30.||Apollo van het Vijverhof||Jeroen Devroe||BEL||311||306||311||309||314||1551|