Matthias Rath and Totilas.
"The owners feel the horse has just returned to light work after an injury and would not be ready for this event," said organizer Noreen O'Sullivan of Wellington Classic Dressage.
"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 10 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."
Steffen Peters and Ravel. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
WDM Managing Director John van de Laar said it was unfortunate that Totilas would not make the trip to Palm Beach, "but the welfare of the horse must prevail."
"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."
Despite the absence of Totilas, there will still be top calibre competition at the event, which is the world's richest and most prestigious dressage series. 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 Palm Beach, including defending 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.
Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. © FEI/Peter Nixon
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 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris of Great Britain. Valegro, at only 10 years of age, is already considered by many to be the next star of international dressage.
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.