As the excitement of the day began to build at the Nation’s Cup Dressage Competition at the 2011 Aachen CHIO security was tightened in the afternoon for the much anticipated performance of Totilas, the world Dressage super star who has created a sensation with not only his extraordinary movement and presence but also with the saga surrounding his exit from the Dutch Team under the guidance and training of Edward Gal and into the breeding operation in Germany of owner Paul Schockemohle partnered with Ann Katrin and Paul Linsenhof and Matthias Alexander Rath now in the saddle. The young German talent had much to live up to in his recent partnering with the KWPN stallion by Gribaldi X Glendale and has shown at Aachen to be able to handle the the pressure. Rath was visibly relieved and emotional as he completed his test in the Grand Prix CDIO.
With Rath and Totilas topping a field of 36 entries at an 82.149, teammate Isabell Werth on a fairly new mount Madeline Winter-Schulze’s Rheinlander gelding El Santo NRW (Ehrentusch x Rhythmus) in third with a 77.830, the German team and Christophe Koschel and the Donnperignon (Donnerhall x Mozart 1179) in sixth place the German team was victorious in spite of the crushing disappointment of the last minute withdrawal of Annabel Balkenhol and Dablino with a still undisclosed injury.
This was Germany’s 32nd victory in the Nations Cup (233.341 percent), and they relegated the Dutch team (218.957 percent), who had triumphed in 2009 and 2010, into third place, behind Great Britain (220.873 percent.) “Things got off to a bad start when Anabel Balkenhol had to withdraw after Dablino suddenly went lame while warming up, so we were all the more delighted with the victory,” commented the national coach, Holger Schmezer.
Isabell Werth achieved the second best result for the German team with the Rhineland-bred gelding, El Santo NRW, who is only ten years old. With an overall score of 77.83 percent she ranked third behind Totilas and Mistral Hojris. “Isabell gave her best performance with this horse here today. El Santo impressed with his exceptional balance and one can see that he has been allowed to mature gradually,” stated the national coach, Schmezer. “Ernie”, as the Ehrentusch son is called at home, has already achieved a considerable amount of victories in the dressage arena, in spite of his young age. He headed the field twice already this year, once in Lingen and once in Dortmund. In 2010 he finished first in Stuttgart, Munich and Mannheim. In 2009 Isabell Werth already won a Grand Prix for Young Horses with the large-framed brown gelding, who she has been riding since he was a youngster. The “German Dressage Queen”, who is ten-time German Champion, five-time European Champion and who has won gold once each at the individual World Championships and the Olympic Games, as well as securing an incredible amount of Championship medals for Germany, is quite justifiably hoping to earn herself a place on the European Championship team in Rotterdam with El Santo.
The brilliant second place performance of the young British rider, 2011 World Equestrian Games Silver Medalist Laura Bechtolsheimer and the elegant Mistral Hojtis, the Danish Warmblood gelding by Michellino x Ibsen hit the mark with an 80.596 leading the British Team and host country for the 2012 Olympic Games to team Silver. The Dutch contingent led by 4th place finisher Adelinde Cornelissen and the KWPN Jerich Parzival (by Jazz x Ulft) won team bronze. Bechtolsheimer was disappointed though in herself for being asleep at the wheel when her horse felt so good and relaxed to her in the warm up she felt she did not ride enough and did make mistakes in the changes, which could have resulted in a better outcome. So it will be an interesting face off in the Grand Prix Special on Saturday and the Grand Prix Freestyle Sunday where Totilas and Rath are still gaining their partnership since first beginning the process in November of 2010.