Sharon Hunt’s belief in her long-time partner Tankers Town was handsomely rewarded with a thrilling win at Luhmuhlen. It was her first four-star victory and a career best with the 16-year-gelding whom she broke in herself 12 years ago.
“I’ve always believed the horse was a champion, and now he is,” she said, admitting to “shock” at her victory which came when the overnight cross-country leader Ingrid Klimke hit two fences on Butts Abraxxas to drop to second.
The time proved influential in Luhmuhlen’s spacious arena and only two riders achieved completely clear rounds — Andrew Nicholson, whose rose to fourth on Mr Cruise Control, and France’s Regis Prud’hon, who would up in 12th and won the HSBC Training Bursary for the best four-star debut.
Andreas Dibowski wisely kept his foot to the floor in the floor and improved a place to third on the mare FRH Fantasia. More importantly, he now heads the HSBC FEI Classics by an impressive seven points, and will have a horse to go to Pau.
Oliver Townend and Ashdale Cruise Master hit fence 3 and were then victims of the extraordinarily tight time — only nine of the 32 finishers avoided time faults — but their fifth place was still a pleasing result.
“It’s only our fifth event together,” Oliver pointed out. “He’s a completely different horse in the dressage and cross-country now and it’s all a matter of forming a partnership, but at least I’ve qualified for the WEG now.”
British selectors had plenty of cheer, with five horses in the top 10. Two of them were Lucy Wiegersma’s, Woodfalls Inigo Jones, sixth, and Granntevka Prince, ninth, while Mary King was seventh on Apache Sauce.
Four more British horses completed: Andrew Downes with Loughnatousa Gypsy Diamond in 16th place, Pheobe Buckley on Little Tiger, 24th, Mary King on Kings Temptress, 26th, and Rebecca Gibbs, 27th on Ariel Spirit. Georgia Bale withdrew Beggars Belief and Julia Crowson’s Star Quality was spun at the final horse inspection.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report on all the action from Luhmuhlen in next Thursday’s magazine, on sale 24 June