It was an eventful show at CDI Hagen (25 – 29 April) with a world record, a Totilas comeback and questionable training methods returning to the warm-up. The line-up to the show was very strong with top Olympic medalist contenders showing off their moves.
New world record
I think a clear highlight of the show was Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro breaking the Grand Prix Special world record. The test was close to flawless with lots of energy, powerful engagement, clear accuracy and a rider that blended perfectly into the horse. The judges all agreed unanimously on the pair as a clear winner with a score of 88.022%, the new world record for the special! The previous record was attained in 2010 by Edward Gal and Totilas with a score of 86.46%. Is Valegro the new Totilas?
Moving on to Totilas, Matthias Rathl made a long-awaited comeback with him at CDI Hagen taking a marginal victory from Laura Bechtolsheimer in the Grand Prix Kur. The test wasn’t bad but am afraid I can’t say it was perfect either. The powerful engagement of the black horse is still there but the partnership still needs some work. Totilas seemed tense at some parts of the test and in some movements in seemed like the rider was doing a bit too much.
I think it’s a difficult task for Matthias to have taken Totilas as a ride after the magical performances Edward Gal had with the stallion. Even though it’s not fair to compare him to these rides (a result of a 3-4 year old partnership), it’s inevitable not to. I will keep my fingers crossed for the pair but I suspect they may not be the gold medalists in this year’s Olympics with this year’s tough competition.
Something quite peculiar about Matthias’ warm-up with Totilas has been circulating around the net the last few days and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. There is pictures and video footage of unique warm-up styles which have scary resemblances to rollkur. It doesn’t look as bad as we’ve seen it but I think we’re all hoping that this will not take a turn for the worst. I also struggled to understand why they had special circumstances to warm-up in their own arena, which was guarded. It’s great that Totilas continues to attract crowds to events and interest for the sport from the media, but shouldn’t everyone be given the same circumstances during warm-up?
The only two top riders we were really missing was Carl Hester and Uthopia as well as Anky Van Grunsven’s comeback with Salinero. Uthopia had a foot injury which he has luckily already recovered from where as Anky chose to start her “oldie” in CDI Saumur instead with respectable scores. Isabell Werth made an appearance at Hagen staying at the top of the scoreboards with a second to Charlotte in the Grand Prix for Special though 5% behind the leader.