Riders have been giving their impressions of the CCI4* cross-country course at Luhmühlen, which has been designed by Mike Etherington-Smith for the first time. Mark Phillips was the track’s designer for more than a decade until last year.

“You can trip up anywhere, but it’s not the most testing four-star,” said Britain’s Oliver Townend, who lies ninth after dressage on Black Tie. “But it’s a new course-designer and a tricky country to design in [public perception of eventing in Germany is often negative, particularly around horse and rider injuries and fatalities]. 11 minutes 11 seconds will find some out.”

Luhmühlen cross-country course

Fence 14, the Hof Sudermühlens Jagdszene, on the 2017 Luhmühlen cross-country course

Fellow Brit Sarah Bullimore, sixth overnight on Lilly Corinne, said the course seems to flow well: “It’s always going to be a slightly twisty track, but it feels more flowing than some here.”

Germany’s Julia Krajewski, second after dressage on Samourai Du Thot, said: “It’s very different to last year. There are lots of waters [four], which is typical of Luhmühlen.

“The first half is more hard work, in the second you have to concentrate but there is more space to gallop. It’ll be interesting to see who has the energy to use the space at the end. There are lots of drops and jumping uphill, which will cost energy and break up the rhythm.”

Luhmühlen cross-country course

Fence 9a, the Charles Owen Royal Works, on the 2017 Luhmühlen cross-country course

Frenchman Astier Nicolas echoed Julia in pointing out the intensity of the first half of the course and saying there are a lot of drop fences on the course.

“It’s not as big as Badminton, but I am riding a less experienced horse, so it’s enough for me,” he said ahead of his round on fifth-placed Molakai. “The first half is intense and the horses could tire early. You’ve got to find your rhythm early or it’ll be difficult to catch up time.”

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The CCI4* cross-country starts at 1.09pm local time tomorrow (12.09pm British time). The cross-country for the accompanying CIC3* begins at 9.15am local time (8.15am British time).

Results and times from Luhmühlen

Check back for regular updates from Luhmühlen over the weekend, plus full report in H&H next week, out Thursday, 22 June.