The 2014 World Equestrian Games
A look at which horse-andrider pairs will help their countries make a run for the medal podiums
A look at which horse-and-rider pairs will make a run for the medal podiums
Editor’s note: At press time, we were still a month away from the start of the 2014 FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games (WEG). But award-winning equestrian photojournalist Nancy Jaffer gave Dressage Today her commentary and best predictions on which dressage horseand-rider pairs would help their countries compete for a spot on the podiums. She also called upon her years of WEG knowledge to come up with some interesting WEG facts on p. 54.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The world’s top dressage riders and horses include the Netherlands’ Edward Gal and Glock’s Undercover, Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW, Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro and Germany’s Matthias Alexander Rath and Totilas.
The 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, seem ready to offer the highest-powered championship dressage freestyle competition ever held. Think of it: Great Britain’s Valegro, ridden by Charlotte Dujardin, who dominated the 2012 Olympics, facing off against a rejuvenated Totilas, the former Dutch mount, now German, ridden by Matthias Alexander Rath. The black stallion (aka Toto) is remembered for sweeping the gold medals at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky with Edward Gal in the saddle.
In their only other previous meeting, at Aachen in July, a rather rusty Valegro earned his worst score in three years in the Grand Prix, while Totilas triumphed. Dujardin and her supermount got it together in the Grand Prix Special while still finishing second to Toto. But their much-awaited freestyle encounter was put on hold until the WEG because Toto was excused from competing in the final test at Aachen by German officials so he could continue to revup his level of fitness for Normandy.
As the planet’s two most celebrated dressage horses go head-to-head for a global title in August, they will be in good company. Add to the mix Damon Hill NRW with Helen Langehanenberg from Germany, as well as Glock’s Undercover, ridden by Edward Gal. Dujardin is number one in the world, Langehanenberg number two and Gal is third in the
June 30 FEI rankings.
Each horse-and-rider pair likely will have two chances at an individual world championship title since it is presented in both the special (for the top 30 horse-and-rider pairs from the Grand Prix) and the more dramatic freestyle (for the top 15), a finale for the discipline’s world championships that everyone will remember. But the big questions are: Can Dujardin, who holds all the world records in dressage, continue her magnificent run? And will it be good enough to triumph over Totilas at his best?
Here are the stories behind each of these major contenders:
Matthias Alexander Rath:
Totilas, once hailed as a superhorse, went into eclipse a few years ago after he was purchased to represent Germany and Gal lost the ride. First, Rath couldn’t get the same results with the black stallion as Gal had enjoyed. Then Toto got hurt, and many doubted he’d be back in the ring. They figured he’d just do full-time stud duty.
But he did come back with the assistance of Sjef Jansen, the husband of Anky van Grunsven and former trainer of the Dutch team. Jansen helped Gal train Toto and appears to know the secret to the horse. Toto soared from 400th to 25th in the FEI rankings in the space of a month after six victories with Rath.
Helen Langehanenberg and Charlotte Dujardin:
Langehanenberg had to settle for second behind Dujardin at the Reem Acra World Cup Finals this spring. Will WEG gold provide the finishing touch to a crown for Dujardin that already sparkles with the Olympic, World Cup and European Championships’ jewels? Although Dujardin sometimes seems superhuman, with a horse to
Sjef Jansen (left), the husband of Anky van Grunsven and former trainer of the Dutch team, knows Totilas (aka Toto) well, and has helped Matthias Alexander Rath and Toto soar from 400th to 25th in the FEI rankings in the space of a month.
At age 17, Parzival, the former world number-one dressage horse, is still an athlete who commands great respect. He and rider Adelinde Cornelissen have had numerous successes, including two World Cup Championships and an individual silver at the London Olympics.