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H&H dressage and sport horse breeding editor

New Totilas kur is ‘mirror image’ of Edward Gal’s

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Matthias Rath and Totilas won double gold and the national title at the German Dressage Championships (17-19 June). But the German rider’s celebrations may have been marred by controversy over the choice of floorplan for his new freestyle.

The 26-year-old commissioned a score by top dance DJ Paul van Dyk for what was billed a new kür. But the choreography for the routine was virtually a mirror image of previous rider Edward Gal’s.

Matthias’ publicist Kai Meesters said: “The music was only finished at the start of the week and there was no time to create a new floorplan for the national championships.

“But Matthias is creating a new freestyle in time for Aachen [8-17 July], when he will be competing against Edward.”

With marks awarded for choreography and originality, H&H wanted to know how judges can score a routine that is effectively second-hand.

FEI dressage director Trond Asmyr told us: “If a rider competes with a floorplan that another rider has used before it doesn’t influence the marks. Choreography and originality are judged by comparison with standard tests, regardless of the fact that there may be similarities with previous freestyles.

“The task of the judges is to evaluate the performance presented to them in the arena on a particular day, without taking into consideration any knowledge of previous results, music, floorplan, and so on.

“They must judge as if they were seeing the test for the first time.”

The issue has provoked a range of views and wide debate on the internet. But by Friday links to a number of videos showing Matthias’ kür side by side with Edward’s had been taken down from the web, ostensibily due to issues with the copyright.

Edward Gal did not want to be drawn into the discussion, but his partner Hans Peter Minderhoud said: “The kür is the same, just the other way around, but a lot of freestyles look the same — there’s not much you can do about it.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (30 June, 2011)