The Netherlands' Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas set a new world record in the Grand Prix Freestyle for the third time this year when scoring 92.30% in the 2009/2010 FEI World Cup Dressage series at Olympia.
With another breathtaking performance that put him in an entirely different class to the rest of the 13-strong field, the nine year old stallion showed even more confidence than he displayed when taking Freestyle gold at the Alltech FEI European Championships at Windsor last August.
Stockholm winner Adelinde Cornelissen had a difficult evening with Parzival who was gripped with nervous tension and failed to give his best, but they still held on for second place, while British hearts were lifted by a great third-spot finish for one of their all-time favourites, Carl Hester with Liebling 11.
Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas
Richard Davison led the first tranche of riders with a mark of 75.15% for Hiscox Artemis, but fellow-Briton Laura Bechtolsheimer overtook him when racking up 77.35% with a lovely ride on Andretti H. Hester earned 78.45% for a really accurate performance when third-last into the arena. He was delighted with Liebling - "I didn't think he had much more to give me after Windsor so I'm really happy to put another 5% on my score from last night," he said.
In the Grand Prix his mark of 72.21% was good enough for third place, while Cornelissen and Gal were separated by just over two percentage points as Totilas again got the edge, but the difference between the latter two in the freestyle was much more extreme. The moment Parzival entered the arena he was electrified with fear and Cornelissen did well to persuade him to go to work despite his obvious reservations.
She is philosophical about his nervous nature, knowing that she must live for the days when he finds it possible to overcome it and show what he is truly capable of achieving.
"Yesterday he was pretty good but I knew he was going to be a handful from the minute we came in the ring today. He was so spooky, but at least now he is getting better because he's willing to give it a try even though he's worried. There was a time when he'd just run out of the ring. I've been riding him for seven years now and its all about trust and confidence - you have to keep building him up," she said.
Her score of 82.05% was nevertheless still only just over one point below her winning result from the third leg of the FEI World Cup Dressage series in Stockholm two weeks ago.
Nerves are not something Gal has to battle with where Totilas is concerned. "He's always really relaxed, the only problem is that he gets distracted by things going on around him but he's not worried about them, just interested, and so sometimes loses his attention" the rider explained. He could feel how good the horse's work was tonight - "it just felt great," he said.
"In the very beginning of his training he had trouble with the changes but once he learns something you don't have to keep going over it again and again, he remembers. It's all very easy for him and he learns very quickly," he explained after putting the record-breaking 92.30% on the board.
His plan for Totilas now is to compete at the FEI World Cup Dressage Final at s'Hertogenbosch in March and at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky later in the year "and that we both have fun while we are doing it!" he added. The latest result sees him share the league leaderboard with Cornelissen while Van Grunsven completes the Dutch dominance in third.
Great Britain's dressage Maestro Richard Davison.
The next leg of the 2009/2010 FEI Dressage World Cup series takes place in Frankfurt, Germany next weekend.
Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas set a new world record in the Grand Prix Freestyle for the third time this year when scoring 92.30% in the competition.
Each time Gal has re-set the target it has been on British soil - he first broke the record in Hickstead in July, then did it again at the Alltech FEI European Championships at Windsor in August and then at Olympia in London.
13 riders started in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. There were 5 from Great Britain, 3 from The Netherlands, and one each from Denmark, France, Belgium and the USA.
Judge at E was M. Almasy (FRA); Judge at H was W. Markowski (POL); Judge at C was S. Clarke (GBR); Judge at M was I. Wessels (GBR) and Judge at B was K. Wuest (GER).
The youngest horses in the competition were the 9 year olds Apollo van het Vijver ridden by Belgium's Jeroen Devroe and Moorlands Totilas ridden by The Netherlands' Edward Gal.
The oldest horse in the calss was the 15 year old Mr President ridden by Great Britain's Stephanie Croxford.
FEI WORLD CUP DRESSAGE - STANDINGS AFTER FOURTH LEG
1. Adelinde Cornelissen, Edward Gal - 35
3. Anky Van Grunsven - 34
4. Matthias Alexander Rath - 27
5. Jeanette Haazen, Aat Van Essen, Monica Theodorescu- 24
8. Hubertus Schmidt - 23
9. Tinne Vilhelmson - 20
10. Hans Peter Minderhoud, Peter Gmoser - 19