Edward Gal and Total US have set their individual medal and Dutch team campaign off to a strong start to qualify for the individual final on the opening day of grand prix dressage at the Tokyo Olympics.
The pair were first to go in group B and set the bar at 78.65% (78.649%) with an expressive test under the floodlights at Tokyo’s Equestrian Park in Baji Koen (24 July).
The trailblazing pair held the lead until the final combination of Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Bohemian swooped into the top spot on 81.1% (81.056%). Edward has secured his place in the individual final (freestyle) and has put the Dutch team in good position to qualify for the team final (grand prix special).
Total US, the nine-year-old stallion son of the late Totilas – with whom Edward set multiple world records – is in his first season of international grand prix.
“It felt really good. It was the first really big test for him in an arena like this,” said Edward.
“I felt the tension coming up a little bit warming up, because he was much more alone there and you can feel this is a competition – he’s very sensitive so he felt it too, I’m sure he also felt it from me.
“He’s so young and so talented and it will take a couple of more years to get everything sorted out, but I think then he’s really, really good.”
When asked about what the horse’s highlights are, he added: “It sounds stupid but he can do everything really well.”
He explained the horse has all the qualities and ability needed to score highly across the movements and is excited for when that all comes together, with the potential for a really high mark.
“You can feel so much comparison with Totilas. You get the same feeling, when you [use your] leg – that the same reaction, the same as he is in the stable,” he said, adding it’s really nice that those traits have been inherited.
“Totilas was a little bit more confident at his age. He’s a little bit shy, but I’ve done a couple of competitions with him now and I can feel that he is getting more confident also, so that’s good.”
He explained that he had to do Rotterdam to make sure the horse could cope with the atmosphere and the floodlights, which he did, and Total has been growing in confidence across his international starts.
“It was nice also to have Dream Boy [stablemate and ride of teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud] next to him in the plane so he was relaxed. He knows Dream Boy so that was really good that he has a big brother with him,” he said.
“There is [still a huge atmosphere in there], especially with the floodlights and it really looks great and when you come in it still feels like a really great competition.
“I must say that when you ride, you don’t notice but when you stop and nothing is happening, that’s really weird. I think for Total, it’s not so bad, because when you have a lot of people, you feel the energy of the people too and he is very sensitive. I think for him for now, it’s good, but I hope the next one will be with a lot of people.”
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