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Comments Off on 2012 Debut for Totilas Marked by Flip-Flops
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
HAGEN, Germany, April 26–The 2012 competition debut for Totilas has been marked by flip-flops as rider Matthias Alexander Rath did not decide until the last minute whether to contest the Grand Prix Special or the Freestyle at the outdoor season’s first major competition in Europe, the Horses & Dreams CDI4*.
Totilas, now 12 years old, will be making his first start since the European Championships last August amid speculation that has become more heated as the black stallion approaches the first anniversary of his international competition career with Matthias as his rider. The German took over the reins from The Netherlands’ Edward Gal who with Totilas became the top ranked combination in the world, setting record scores in all three Grand Prix levels.
The uncertainty over strategy in this Olympic year comes after a series of public relations gaffes, among the on-off decision to switch from training with his father to the Dutch national coach, Sjef Janssen, and a stammering response to a question from a radio reporter as to which was the most important–a German team gold or an individual bronze medal at the London Olympics. Germany has traditionally placed more emphasis on team results than those of the individual.
The show is staged by Performance Sales International, owned by Paul Schockemöhle and Ullrich Kasselmann. Paul arranged the purchase of Totilas and has partnered in the ownership with Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, Matthias’s stepmother. Ullrich Kasselmann was responsible for the training and sale of Legolas to Akiko Yamazaki as the new ride for Steffen Peters
The theme of this year’s Horses & Dreams is Great Britain with typical British foods of fish and chips, Guiness (which is Irish, but the Germans are no slouches when it comes to making beer) in a bar in a converted red double-decker bus, Uion Jacks and British-flagged clothing everywhere.
This dressage and jumping competition draws many of the world’s top combinations.
Not surprisingly, the British theme extended to the competitors and the lineup includes three of the four British combinations that won team gold at last year’s European Championships–world’s No. 2 Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro and Emile Faurie and Elmegardens Marquis.
From Germany, Isabell Werth with Don Johnson. Kristina Sprehe and Desperados, Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino and Monica Theodorescu and Whisper and combinations from more than a dozen other countries, including Australia and the United States.
So competition for Totilas (Gribaldi x Lominka x Glendale) will be stiff.
Matthias and Totilas initially opted for the Freestyle where he was to ride for the first time to his new music, a Michael Jackson compilation.
Then, the pair switched to the Grand Prix Special which is vital this year as it is the second of two phases for the Olympic team competition, the first being the Grand Prix, which he confirmed in an interview broadcast just last Monday.
Wednesday night, they switched back to the Freestyle.
The schedule begins with the Grand Prix for the Special on Friday, Grand Prix for the Freestyle on Saturday and both the Special and the Freestyle Sunday.
In the Intermediaire 1, Sweden’s Patrik Kittel on Uno Donna Unique were the victors with a score of 75.895 per cent, Isabell Werth on Laurenti second on 73.053 per cent and Austria’s Victoria Max-Theurer on Della Cavalleria OLD third on 72.500 per cent.
Uno Donna Unique (Don Schufro-Falkland) is a Danish Warmblood mare who won the world championships as a six-year-old in 2010.