Totilas Is a No-Show for England's Dressage at Hickstead, Parzival Thrills In His Absence

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Have you ever been at a concert when, halfway through the opening act, a rumor circulates through the audience that the superstar won?t be performing? Barbara Striesand has a migraine. Lady Gaga?s flight is stalled in Phoenix. Jimmy Buffett was grounded by a snowstorm. Madonna fell off her horse again.

There's a certain sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach at that moment when the stage manager comes out and clears his throat...

That's what happened at the exquisitely organized Dressage at Hickstead in England this weekend. It was here last year that the sensational combo of Moorlands Totilas and Edward Gal began their string of record-breakingly high dressage scores reaching into the nineties, and the event was a sellout this year because people wanted to see them do it again. Except the superstar stayed home this year, making the decision after all the tickets were sold.

On his website, in Dutch only, Gal explained that he thought Totilas deserved a rest after the stress of performing at Aachen three weeks ago. Originally, Hickstead was a competition that was required to qualify for the Dutch team, but the team has now been decided and, to no one?s surprise, Totilas and Gal are on the team. Hence, Hickstead became an optional competition.

Gal?s Dutch teammates Adelinde Cornelissen and Hans Peter Minderhoud did make the trip to England to compete at this last of the year?s World Dressage Masters competitions.

Gal said that he was also concerned about the amount of stress that the horse was under now at shows. He said that while the horse enjoys competing, it's not just the dressage itself that costs the horse his energy. ?Every half hour, people come back to his box to watch and admire him,? Gal commented. ?Totilas is always polite and friendly to everybody but sometimes enough is enough. In Aachen, we finally had to decide to close the stable so that Totilas could get his rest.? (This is an approximate translation from the Dutch.)

Totilas?s schedule, according to Gal, will include a small competition in August to keep him in shape and a team training session is being planning before the big departure to Kentucky.

Gal did not mention any health concerns playing a role in his decision not to compete the horse at Hickstead. At Aachen, he said that the stallion was continuing with breeding duties as well as training.

Moorlands Totilas and Edward Gal are the 2010 FEI World Cup Champions and regarded by many as being almost invincible on the world stage. They have been beaten before by Dutch teammate Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival, and they will have to beat them and all comers, including 2009 FEI World Cup Champions Steffen Peters and Ravel of the USA, at WEG in Kentucky.

At Hickstead this year, Parzival and Adelinde were exuberant and the audience may have forgotten their disappointment in Totilas's absence. Parzival scored a personal best of 81.362% in the Grand Prix and 85.650% in the Freestyle to dominate the posh competition on England?s south coast. The freestyle victory was eight points over second place finishers Minderhoud and his Kentucky-bound mare, Exquis Nadine.

Reports from England quoted Cornelissen as saying that Parzival would not compete again before Kentucky.

The DiscoverWEG blog will be monitoring communications from The Netherlands over the weeks to come to make sure that the Dutch team horses stay healthy and sound right up to the moment they go into the ring in Lexington. We?ll have all the details!

You're reading a story from DiscoverWEG with Fran Jurga, a blog about the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which will be held September 25 to October 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park outside Lexington, Kentucky. The direct address for this blog is www.discoverweg.com. You can subscribe to the blog's RSS feed by clicking on the icon at the top right of this page; headlines are also posted on Facebook at the DiscoverHorses.com Page. DiscoverWEG is just one component of the Discover Horses support web site for the Games. Make Discoverhorses.com your go-to WEG destination site!

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