I can't recall another major championship competition in recent history with so many withdrawal announcements just days before the opening ceremony.
|Totilas and Edward Gal canter to gold at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Yesterday I awoke to the news that the 2010 WEG dressage Grand Prix Special and GP Freestyle gold medalist from the Netherlands, the Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas, had been withdrawn. Now competing under the German flag for rider Matthias-Alexander Rath, "Toto" had demonstrated a "pain reaction" at the site of a previous splint injury, the German Equestrian Federation announced.
Well, shoot. Like many others, I was looking forward to seeing Totilas in the same arena as Valegro, the 2012 Olympic champion from Great Britain. I saw Toto in Kentucky 2010 and Valegro in London 2012. Both were astonishing, and many people have asked me which horse I think is better. My personal preference aside, I honestly don't know how I think they'd score until I saw them back to back. Although the Totilas-Edward Gal pairing is in the past and Toto and Rath had a rough start, they'd reportedly really been clicking of late, scoring major European wins. The 2014 WEG was shaping up to be a dressage match race of sorts, a la the legendary 1938 Seabiscuit-War Admiral showdown. But for now we'll have to shelve that meeting.
On to the other disappointments; my heart goes out to everybody associated with these horses, who've come so far only to see defeat snatched from the jaws of victory at the last minute.
|Germany's Sam FBW (shown after winning individual eventing gold at the 2012 London Olympics) is out of the 2014 WEG with an injury. Rider Michael Jung will compete aboard his other mount, FischerRocana FST. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
First off, we learned that the 2010 WEG and 2012 Olympic eventing individual gold medalist, Sam FBW, was withdrawn from the 2014 WEG today as a result of what the German FN termed inflammation in a front hoof. Sam's rider, Michael Jung, will still contest the WEG aboard his second mount, the nine-year-old mare FischerRocana FST.
Then the Netherlands' 2014 WEG dressage squad suffered a double blow: That nation's equestrian federation announced that both Glock's Undercover and Siro have been withdrawn due to injuries. Edward Gal, who rides Glock's Undercover, will remain on the Dutch WEG team with his other mount, Voice. Siro and rider Danielle Heijkoop will be replaced by Diederick van Silfhout on Arlando.
|The Netherlands' Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival won silver at the 2012 Olympics and stand to be strong contenders again at this year's WEG. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Hmm...do these losses increase Team USA's chances of a dressage medal? Possibly -- although we're still going up against such powerhouses as Germany's Helen Langehanenberg on Damon Hill NRW, the Netherlands' Adelinde Cornelissen on Jerich Parzival, and of course Valegro and rider Charlotte Dujardin. And don't dismiss any of the German or Dutch replacement horses or riders. Trust me, these nations' "understudies" would be leading ladies or men practically anywhere else.