The international eventing circuit could have another four-star three-day event next year at Luhmühlen in Germany. The long-standing German fixture is applying to the FEI to upgrade and has already appointed Mark Phillips as course-designer.
Luhmühlen also hopes to put up a first prize of up to €40,000 and expects to be the only four-star in the world running the “short-format” in 2005.
Julia Otto, organiser, explains: “Our federation thought it was a great idea: there is no four-star on the continent, Germany is to host the World Equestrian Games (WEG) at Aachen in 2006 and we have 28 riders qualified for this level.”
Only four events worldwide currently have four-star status: Badminton, Burghley, Lexington (USA) and Adelaide (Australia).
Luhmühlen is 30km south of Hamburg on the Luneburg heath, a region similar to the army training area around Aldershot, Hants, where Tweseldown is. Equestrianism, warmblood breeding and horse tourism dominate the local economy.
Luhmühlen hosted the eventing World Championships in 1982 (before the inception of WEG) and the European Championships in 1999.
Previously, Luhmühlen has featured a figure-of-eight steeplechase. As the phase was abandoned for the 2004 short-format World Cup qualifier, the venue has undergone significant layout changes. More are likely, as Capt Phillips has identified the extra 1800m worth of track required for an upgraded cross-country track.
Capt Phillips, FEI technical delegate to last weekend’s three-star in Luhmühlen, told German media that European riders would support it because of the relative expense of travelling to Lexington. He added that a four-star presence historically produces a rise in riding standards in the host country.