The grand prix warm-up for the FEI World Cup Dressage Qualifier kicked off at the Olympia Horse Show in London last night (15 December).

Thirteen combinations contested the test run for tomorrow night’s music extravaganza, including Windsor European British team silver medallists Carl Hester (Liebling) and Laura Bechtolsheimer (Andretti H). But the majority of the audience were there to see one horse — Edward Gal’s European gold medallist and world number one Moorlands Totilas.

The nine-year-old stallion didn’t disappoint, posting a plus-83% grand prix victory. The pair got the biggest cheer of the night for their ever-expressive display, with no big mistakes and very few little ones.

Only in the walk Totilas looked a little distracted by his surroundings, but then the crowd do sit very close to the arena at Olympia. His extensions were as awesome as those he demonstrated at Windsor in August, and his piaffe and passage as powerful.

“He is still so young, but he never lets me down,” said Edward. “He was a little tense at the start, but after the walk he began to feel good.”

Carl Hester had the difficult job of competing between this year’s favourite, Totilas, and last year’s winner, Parzival, ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands. Donald Mactaggart’s Liebling, bought at auction as a show jumper, held his own for plus-72% and third place with clean changes and an accurate test — Carl refusing to throw any marks away.

“My aim was to produce a test without mistakes and that was his first really clean test,” Carl said.

Adelinde easily did enough to go ahead of them on Parzival, who still finished two per cent behind compatriot Moorlands Totilas. Their tempi changes were straighter and their piaffe picture perfect, but Totilas will continue to have the edge as long as he makes no mistakes so tremendous is his movement.

Listen to rider interviews [Click the play arrow to listen]

Carl Hester

Edward Gal

Results

1. Moorlands Totilas (Edward Gal) NED 83.660%
2. Parzival (Adelinde Cornelissen) NED 81.277%
3. Liebling II (Carl Hester) GBR 72.213%
4. Andretti H (Laura Bechtolsheimer) GBR 70.766%
5. Cadillac (Catherine Haddad) USA 69.660%
6. Hiscox Artemis (Richard Davison) GBR 69.447%
7. Apollo van het Vijverhof (Jeroen Devroe) BEL 68.298%
8. Fitzcerraldo (Judith Harvey) GBR 67.745%
9. Mr President (Stephanie Croxford) GBR 67.362%
10. Ovation (Christa Laarakkers) NED 66.085 %
11. Whitni Star (Marc Boblet) FRA 65.830 %
12. Louis D’Or (Henriette Andersen) GBR 65.106 %
13. Exquis Clearwater (Anne van Olst) DEN 64.596 %

See Horse&Hound’s 24 December issue for our full report and pictures from Olympia, meanwhile stay up to date with all the latest news and reports at www.horseandhound.co.uk.