Piggy French’s dreams of a Luhmuhlen win were dashed with two fences down in an afternoon where German strength in depth came to the fore.
Andreas Dibowski rose up to win with Euroridings Butts Leon – his second four-star victory in seven months – with rising star Sandra Auffarth holding on to runner-up spot with Opgun Louvo and Frank Ostholt filling third on Little Paint, ahead of French and Flying Machine.
Oliver Townend (ODT Master Rose) had a fence down which was good enough to rise to seventh, with Mary King (Apache Sauce) and William Fox-Pitt (Macchiato) lowering two fences apiece, for eighth and ninth place.
For Mary, this was still good enough to retain an eight-point lead in the FEI HSBC Classics, though Dibowski has moved into joint third with Mark Todd in the HSBC standings and will now consider whether to prioritise Burghley and Pau in the next day or so.
Dibowski has been competing at Luhmuhlen for 22 years.
“The pressure has been mounting for me to win, and so today is very special,” he said.
Luhmuhlen’s new all-weather surface came into its own as it rained relentlessly all day.
“Some people do not like the new face of Luhmuhlen but these improvements were necessary,” said Dibowski. “In the modern sport it is important that the last competitor gets the same footing as the first.”
Dark horse Sandra Auffarth has a showjumping background which stood her in good stead, even though she had an early fence down.
Opgun Louvo is one of five horses she campaigned in Britain two seasons ago when based in Yorkshire with German team trainer Chris Bartle. Among others, she produced Zara Phillips ride Lord Lauries.
Bartle said: “She has always been a star in waiting. I think people had probably underestimated her, but not now.”
1, A Dibowski (Euroridings Butts Leon, GER), 39.8; 2, S Auffarth (Opgun Louvo, GER), 43; 3, F Osholt (Little Paint, GER), 46.1.