Ingrid Klimke presented a typically flowing picture to take the dressage lead at Luhmuhlen in her first attempt at her home four-star. The World and Olympic team gold medallist gave birth to her second daughter, Phillippa, in March and was back in the saddle after three weeks.
Luhmuhlen is an important WEG selection trial for Ingrid, 42, who retired Butts Abraxxas after two refusals at last year’s European Championship, but she was positive about the cross-country: “It’s a real four-star and I like the clean, friendly lines,” she said.
American’s Allison Springer, whose last two four-star runs on Arthur ended unhappily, managed to contain the handsome chestnut’s nervousness in the breezy conditions well to lie second, just 0.8pen in arrears.
Oliver Townend had a good day to claim 4th and 6th on Ashdale Cruise Master and Carousel Quest, his two greys split by Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town, 5th.
Lucy Wiegersma is next best Brit, 8th on Woodfalls Inigo Jones, ahead of Nick Gauntlett who made an impressive four-star debut on the stallion Chilli Morning, 10th.
“He warmed up more tensely than usual,” said Nick, “but it’s great having the Team GB back-up here. About halfway through the test he took a deep breath as if to say ‘that’s why we’re here’ and relaxed.”
Like most riders, Lucy and Nick predict that the coffin fence at 13, with its angled exit over an arrowhead, will be influential. Mark Phillips’s course, which offers much improved footing, has been toned down from last year when the statistics made for uneasy reading.
Badminton winner Paul Tapner, currently ninth in the closely bunched field on Kilfinnie ll and hoping to extend his lead in the HSBC FEI Classics, commented: “There’s a lot of big spreads with technical questions thrown in, and that mix could catch some riders out.”
Stay in touch with the action from Luhmuhlen on Horseandhound.co.uk across the weekend, and don’t miss our full report, on sale Thursday 24 June