World Dressage Championship Goes to the Dutch Team at the World Equestrian Games

Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas
Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas led the Dutch team to dressage gold. Photo: Leslie Potter

The gold medal for team dressage at the 2010 World Equestrian Games went to the Netherlands. A breathtaking ride by Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas sealed the victory with their score of 84.04, putting the pair in the lead while boosting the Dutch team score to a winning 229.74

The British team took the silver with 224.76, and the Germans earned the bronze with 220.59 in a tight race with the United States, which finished in fourth place just a few points behind Germany at 218.12.

Dutch Dominance
Totilas was the star attraction of the day. A crowd of people stood three deep outside the warmup to catch a glimpse of the famous horse up close before his much-anticipated ride. Despite the incredible pressure, Gal and “Toto” did not disappoint. The pair earned multiple 10s for piaffe, passage and pirouettes. (A score of 10 signifies excellence and is rarely awarded in dressage.) Floating half-passes and the expressive movement Totilas is known for earned a standing ovation from the crowd along with the excellent scores from the judges. “I was very happy with such a test … every time it’s amazing to ride him,” said Gal.

However, it was a day of highs and lows for the Dutch dressage team. Earlier in the day, Jerich Parzival, ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands, was eliminated from the team Grand Prix midway through the ride when the ground jury observed blood in the horse’s saliva. According the FEI rule, elimination is automatic if blood is visible in the horse’s mouth. There was no suggestion that any abuse of the horse had occurred.

The Dutch team veterinarian examined the horse immediately after he returned to the stable. “There was a tiny spot on the tip of his tongue. It had stopped bleeding on the way back to the stable,” Cornelissen said. “I am very disappointed. The horse was doing amazing at that moment. I am very happy that there is nothing seriously wrong with him.”

Sjef Janssen, the Dutch team chef d’equipe, said, “We are very disappointed, but we understand the rule and accept the decision.”

British Invasion
The British invasion began with a veteran ride from three-time Olympian Carl Hester aboard Liebling II, scoring a solid 72.12, but teammate Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris followed it up with an incredible performance earning 82.51 for second place in the individual standings while securing silver for the team.

“I was hoping for bronze, but if we’re going to get silver I’m not going to complain,” she said. “It was definitely my best performance. I’ve never had such a good test and a good score. Of course I was hoping that at the World Games I could really peak and have my best performance here, but for it to really happen is a big relief.”

The leggy chestnut also scored several 10s for his impressive piaffe. “I feel that [my horse] is a complete athlete. He moves like a tiger… I do believe he is in the same league as [Totilas and Parzival]. To me obviously there isn’t a better horse,” said Bechtolsheimer of her mount.

Germany Develops its Potential
Dressage powerhouse Germany uncharacteristically found themselves lower down on the podium, with a mostly young squad of several young horses and developing riders on the team. “There is a lot of potential … I think we need a little bit of time to prepare,“ said team anchor and decorated Olympian Isabell Werth

Peters Powerhouse for Team USA
Steffen Peters and Ravel were the very last ride of the day, and the atmosphere was electric as they entered the stadium. The pair turned in a

Anky van Grunsven reining
Reigning WEG dressage gold medalist Anky van Grunsven made a surprise appearance with her reining horse just before the awards presentation in the dressage arena. Photo: Leslie Potter

powerful performance in front of the enthusiastic home crowd. Their score of 78.59 put them third in the individual standings, but it was not quite enough to get the team past the Germans for a medal.

“Fourth place for our team is obviously a little disappointing,” said Peters. There’s no doubt that I really, really wanted to get the bronze medal for our team, especially after we came so close in Hong Kong. I came out of the ring and said ‘sorry guys, it wasn’t enough.’ For the three rookies on the team, I thought they did a wonderful job too.”

Tina Konyot and Calecto V were the next highest placed American pair with their score of 69.91.

Dressage competition continues on Wednesday at the World Equestrian Games with the Grand Prix Special, where you can expect a clash of the dressage titans as the world’s best horses and riders have a rematch.

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