Totilas & Matthias Within Fraction of 80% Barrier in Munich Grand Prix Special
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
MUNICH, Germany, June 3–With first time nerves behind them, Matthias Rath and Totilas came within 0.162 per cent of 80 per cent in the CDI3* Grand Prix Friday, a marked improvement over a day earlier when the pair performed their inaugural competition appearance flying the German flag.
The combination most likely would have improved on their score of 79.838 per cent except for a bad transition between piaffe and canter when the horse leaped in the air to the gasps of the second sellout crowd. Even so, two of the five judges scored the pair above 80 per cent with the lowest being 78.458 per cent. In the first competition ride, the Grand Prix on Thursday, the pair scored 76.787 per cent.
In Friday’s Special, fellow German Carola Koppelmann on Le Bo was second on 70.274 per cent and Austria’s Victoria Max-Theurer on Eichendorff third on 69.313 per cent.
“It was much easier today.” Matthias told dressage-news.com. “The pressure was off.
“I knew how he reacts in the arena. You could see some real improvement. It was really, really good today. I was very. very pleased.”
The crowds Friday were about the same as Thursday, an estimated 8,000 people, with perhaps more spectators gathered around the warm-up arena, including more professionals who were scheduled to compete later in the CDI5* Grand Prix.
As with the first day, the 26-year-old Matthias spent hours with the media from around the world, answering questions in German and English.
At no time was he heard to make excuses that he had been riding Totilas for barely five months, beginning in January focusing on the basics for several weeks before beginning regular training with his father, Klaus. Matthias no longer works with Klaus Balkenhol, a German Olympic gold medalist and coach of the U.S. team from 2000 through 2008.
A planned start to their competition career at Horses and Dreams in Hagen, Germany the first week of May was sidetracked when the horse’s left hind foot developed an abcess and rather than undergo drug testing that could detect medication used in treatment, the decision was made to scratch.
To provide some perspective to the partnership of Matthias and the 11-year-old stallion, Edward Gal of The Netherlands, trained and competed Totilas for four years. After competing small tour in some top venues, among them Aachen, Germany, they started Grand Prix in mid-2009 and competed in 12 different international shows over the next 15 months. The shows included the 2009 European Championships where they won two gold and one silver medal, the 2010 World Cup Final which they won, and the 2010 world championships where they won all three gold medals up for grabs. Along the way, the combination established world records at all three levels–Grand Prix, Special and Freestyle.
Of the 12 Grand Prix contested over that period, the first two scored below 80 per cent as did two others, including the 2010 World Cup Final which was awarded 76.808 per cent, about the same as the first Grand Prix with Matthias on Thursday.
The official world rankings maintained by the International Equestrian Federation, known as the FEI for its name in French, still places Edward and Totilas at the top of the leaderboard through the end of May, although Totilas was sold last October and did not compete with Edward after the WEG in Kentucky. The records, however, list Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff and Paul Schockemöhle as the owners of record, effective Feb. 1, 2011.
The World Dressage Masters CDI5* Grand Prix was won by Sweden’s Patrik Kittel on Watermill Scandic H.B.C. with a score of 77.481 per cent, with Germans Christoph Koschel and Donnperignon second on 77.213 per cent and Ulla Salzgeber and Herzruf’s Erbe third on 76.362 per cent.
The scores for both Patrik and Scandic and Christoph and Donnperignon–both combinations competed at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year–were personal bests.
“This win is really unbelievable,” Patrik said. “It’s very emotional for me, definitely the biggest win in my career.”