|Edward Gal (NED) riding Totilas wins the gold medal in the Grand Prix Freestyle. (Kit Houghton/Fei)|
Lexington, Ky., Oct. 1, 2010 – In an historic sweep, Dutch rider Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas captured three gold medals at the Dressage World Championships, presented by Alltech, part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Friday night, in front of a sold-out crowd at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Main Stadium, he won the Grand Prix Freestyle with a score of 91.8 percent.
Earlier in the week, Gal and “Totilas” earned the gold medal in the Grand Prix Special and were members of the gold-medal-winning team from the Netherlands.
The Grand Prix Freestyle’s top placings mirrored those of the Grand Prix Special, with Laura Bechtolsheimer of Great Britain capturing the silver medal with Mistral Hojris (85.35%), and Steffen Peters of the United States taking bronze on Ravel (84.90%). Peters, with two medals now, is the only U.S. rider ever to earn an individual medal at a World Equestrian Games. The three top riders also finished the team Grand Prix on Sept. 28-29 in the same order.
Before the medals ceremony, announcer Brian O’Connor brought Gal into the arena to thank him for taking dressage in an “unbelievably new direction. … You are in charge of what’s happening worldwide in dressage,” O’Connor said.
Linda Zang, president of the ground jury, discussed her impressions of the top three horses: “They’re actually, to me, three totally different types of horses. Totilas is a horse that shows so much power, but at the same time is very easy and seems very light. I think Edward does an amazing job to be able to sit and keep a horse with so much power and energy into a frame and work happily with him. Laura’s horse, for me, has a lot more power and is a very big horse. And Steffen has a different kind of horse. It’s a horse that is very elastic and soft and has a different kind of harmony. All three of them have harmony.”
Gal, who came into the World Games highly touted, said he was relieved that he and his horse lived up to the expectations.
“When I came here, I knew I could do it, but it also has to happen. And then it’s quite difficult, and there was, of course, a lot of pressure on me because everyone expected it,” he said.
Peters noted that he dedicated the freestyle ride to his fellow U.S. rider Courtney King-Dye, who suffered a head injury after a riding accident in March. Peters wore a protective helmet in his celebratory victory lap aboard Ravel.
Also, during the post-medals ceremony press conference, Gal said, “It is not a rumor” that Totilas has been bred to Brentina, an Olympic and WEG medalist and a World Cup titlist.
Nations represented in the Grand Prix Freestyle were the Netherlands, Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Judges were Zang (United States), Mary Seefried (Australia), Ghislain Fouarge (the Netherlands), Evi Eisenhardt (Germany), and Maribel Alonso (Mexico).