The black stallion, whose value is estimated at more than £10million, is sidelined because rider Matthias Rath has been laid low by glandular fever.
The German Equestrian Federation announced yesterday that Rath, who took the ride on Totilas last year from Holland’s Edward Gal, will not recover in time for London. Totilas and Gal set a stunning grand prix freestyle world record under floodlights at the 2009 European Championships in Windsor. He became the first horse in dressage history to be awarded a mark of more than 90 per cent, in addition to winning five world and European gold medals and one silver.
“It is a blow for the sport because, as we all know, he is very popular. It’s sad news,” London Olympian Hester said. “Obviously, it’s good for the British team, but no one would wish that on anyone. We all know how expressive that horse is and how he has brought a new dimension to the sport. He has made the sport famous and you want to compete against the best, let’s face it.”
Great Britain’s London team of Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin, who are all currently ranked among the world’s top five, are strong podium contenders at Greenwich Park.
Britain has never previously won an Olympic dressage medal, but all that could change in under five weeks’ time when the reigning European team champions go for gold.