Bettina Hoy and Ringwood Cockatoo are leading in Luhmühlen four-star after scoring an impressive 37.4 pen.

The competition is the most important performance trial for the World Equestrian Games taking place in August. Hoy, 43, lies more than 10 points ahead of Australia’s Lucinda Fredericks with German young talent Dirk Schrade in third position on a score of 51.9 pen.

But all could change today as the second batch of riders complete their tests. Britain’s William Fox-Pitt and Birthday Night are set to do their test this afternoon, along with Simon Lawrence (Watch It), Sarah Cohen (Tom Cruise II) and Lawrence Hunt (Proud Ginger 2). Badminton 2006 winner, Australia’s Andrew Hoy will also be giving is wife Bettina a run for her money, aboard Classy Touch.

German national trainer, Hans Melzer, said: “It could be possible for certain riders to come very close to Bettina`s final dressage score.”

The four-star cross-country phase is planned to begin at 2.15 pm on Saturday and the organisers are delighted with the turn out. “The big names are here,” said Julia Otto, managing director of the Luhmühlen Horse Trials.

Unfortunately the cross-country course has been shortened, due to bad weather conditions, meaning that 1000 metres have been removed from the course. Captain Mark Phillips, course designer, Rüdiger Schwarz, technical delegate of the FEI and Ms Otto, made the decision on Wednesday morning after an area of the course became waterlogged.

“This was a very difficult decision to make. We’ve invested a considerable amount of time, work and money in this part of the course in order to bring new elements into the competition,” said Mark Phillips. “However, the safety of the horses and riders must be given priority. The fields are simply under water and it would be just too dangerous to allow riders and horses to participate on this section of the course.”

He explained that the time limit has been shortened accordingly: “In fact, the spectators can expect a little more suspense due to the reduction in distance between the obstacles and speed needed to ride around the course.”

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