The 2014 World Eques­trian Games

A look at which horse-an­drider pairs will help their coun­tries make a run for the medal podi­ums

Dressage Today - - Content - By Nancy Jaf­fer

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.

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