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Matthias Rath and Totilas withdrawn from Palm Beach

January 07, 17:03 
Matthias Rath and Totilas have withdrawn from competing at the 2012 World Dressage Masters in Palm Beach, which is set to take place 26 - 28 January 2012. Totilas is the second billboard horse to have withdraw from the line-up after Salinero, while the show has been selling very expensive attendance tickets based on the all-star entry list which still includes Steffen Peters' Ravel and Charlotte Dujardin's Valegro.
 
"I received a call this morning from Paul Schockemöhle, one of the owners of Totilas," said WDM Palm Beach organizer Noreen O'Sullivan of Wellington Classic Dressage. "I am very sorry to announce that Totilas will not be able to compete in this year's World Dressage Masters Palm Beach. The owners feel the horse has just returned to light work after an injury and would not be ready for this event. We have already invited Totilas and Matthias to our 2013 WDM event. The owners and Matthias were very disappointed they would not be able to attend this year's WDM Palm Beach but also said they look forward to accepting our invitation for next year if the horse is going well."

Totilas, the current world record holder in the Grand Prix Freestyle and the only horse to score over 90%, is also the reigning World Champion under his previous rider, Edward Gal of the Netherlands. Rath was partnered with the 12-year old KWPN stallion in late 2010 after Totilas was purchased by renowned Olympic show jumper and breeder Paul Schockemöhle, in co-ownership with Olympic dressage rider Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, who is Rath's stepmother. Rath was forced to withdraw from the CDI-W Frankfurt in December 2011 after Totilas suffered a minor injury.

"Totilas twisted a joint in his leg a few weeks ago, just two days before the Frankfurt show," Schockemöhle explained. "The horse was lame and was treated by the vet, but still lame after four weeks. The vet asked that the horse be walked again for ten days during Christmas, and is just starting back in light work. We really feel the time is too short for the horse to be in top form for the Masters. Our main focus is for the horse, and this is very important."

Schockemöhle also pointed out that with 2012 being an Olympic year, giving Totilas the full time needed to recover is even more critically important. "We are very sorry that Totilas will not be able to compete at the Palm Beach Masters."

Steffen Peters on Ravel
"It is very unfortunate that Totilas will not be joining us in Palm Beach, but the welfare of the horse must prevail," says WDM Managing Director John van de Laar.  "We have a special relationship with the Linsenhoff Rath Family and we wish to see Totilas in top form soon.  We are glad that Totilas will return for 2013. We also have some big news to be announced before the WDM Palm Beach regarding a special qualifier for the U-25 Grand Prix, for riders under age 25."

In a press release the organizers of the WDM Palm Beach state that "the withdrawal of Totilas from the WDM Palm Beach will not affect the calibre of competition or entertainment value of this spectacular not-be-missed dressage event of the Florida season." The World Dressage Masters is the world's richest and most prestigious dressage series; since its inception it has drawn the best of the best to its four annual competitions. The WDM Palm Beach is the only WDM competition to take place outside of Europe. Many of Europe's best dressage horses and riders will join an impressive line up of North American pairs to vie for €100,000 (US $130,000) in prize money at the 2012 WDM Palm Beach, including defending WDM Palm Beach champions Steffen Peters and Ravel.

Peters, who is the only American to win the World Cup Dressage Final on North American soil, will face a strong rival in Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, members of the team that won a historic first gold medal for Britain at the 2011 European Dressage Championships. At the European Championships, Dujardin announced her arrival on the world stage in the Grand Prix by finishing fourth, just half a percentage point behind third placed Totilas. This will be Dujardin's and Valegro's first appearance in North American dressage competition. They will arrive in Florida hot off a victory at the CDI-W London in December, where they won the Grand Prix, beating the individual silver medalists from the 2010 World Equestrian Games, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris of Great Britain. Valegro, at only ten years of age, is already considered by many to be the next star of international dressage.

Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro
In light of Totilas' withdrawal from the 2012 WDM Palm Beach, WDM's organizers are already working quickly to replace him. "We are working hard on another top Athlete/Horse combination that we feel the dedicated US fans will appreciate," said van de Laar, who has invited Dujardin's European Championship team mate and mentor Carl Hester, who also won individual silver at the 2011 European Championships.

"We are in talks with Carl, who has expressed a keen interest in attending the WDM Palm Beach," said O'Sullivan. "We are hoping to confirm his participation on this short notice." The current number one ranked rider on the Nürnberger WDM Rider Rankings, Germany's Anja Plönzke, has already confirmed that she and Le Mont D'Or will return to the WDM Palm Beach for the third consecutive year.
Source: EuroDressage Photo: Totilas FB fanpage
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