GERMANY (by Christopher Hector, Adriana van Tilburg and Helga Eppler) This year’s CHIO of Aachen took place at the end of May – a foreshortened event as this iconic organizer of equestrian sport at the highest level was awarded the honour of hosting the 2015 European Championships in five disciplines, including dressage and showjumping. Although Euro Aachen retains its regular eventing competition, Blair Castle (GBR) will host their European Championships in September.
It seems my European dressage championships of re- cent years have been dominated by a black stallion: Totilas (Gribaldi x Glendale). Sadly, only once in a good way, at Windsor, back in 2009, perfect evening, perfect sky, and Edward Gal and Totilas dance their way to victory with a perfect Kür. It is one of those tests that will live in my memory forever.
Roll on two years, Rotterdam, and Totilas is now competing for Germany, with young Matthias Rath in the saddle. Sadly, Rath is no Gal, and the horse goes very poorly for him, by the time the Kür came round, he was wanting to withdraw, facing stern opposition from his father... and the issue of soundness was already on the agenda. There are persistent stories of Nicole Werner (a key member of the Edward Gal/Hans Peter Minderhoud team) berating Paul Schockemohle in the stables for bringing a lame Totilas to the championships!
Herning in 2013 was Totilas free, and relatively controversy free. Only the poor Swedish judge who had the temerity to see that the British horse, Half Moon Delphi was irregular in the passage and mark it accordingly, raised a ripple as he was flung out of the judging fraternity, seemingly forever.
Cut to Aachen 2015 and the most controversial Euros ever. Every reliable observer I know that was there, said that Totilas was lame at the trot up and yet he passed. Just before his test began in the Grand Prix, one of the good German equestrian journalists rushed to her place. She had been at the warm up, how did he look? Okay as long as he was tense, if he relaxed, he looked lame. And lame was just how he looked for significant pe- riods in the test and suddenly the Ground Jury, divided among itself, all through the Grand Prix, re- ally fell in a heap! Five judges have him low, Ger- man Katrina Wüst 72.9 in 20th, 74.6 from Sweden’s Annette Fransén-Iacob, 13th, 73.2 Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode, 10th, 71.6 France’s Jean-Michael Roudier, 21st. One judge, Anne Gribbons, thinks it is worth a 79.3 her third highest, while two reach for the 80 button: Denmark’s Susanne Baarup, 80.1 and fourth, and Britain’s Andrew Gardner, 80.1 and fourth. The combination ends up scoring 79.8. Nothing wrong with the horse, of course, I’ll go in the Special, Matthias tells the German TV.