British riders impressed on the final day of the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials, with four combinations in the top-10 in the five-star results.
Kirsty Chabert and Classic VI, owned by Carole Somers and John Johnston, headlined the British success stories of the week.
This is by far the best result at five-star for Kirsty, who had tears in her eyes as she tried to put into words just what it meant to her after years of graft. Her next highest placing at this level was at Pau in 2015, where she finished 20th.
“Maybe tomorrow it will sink in,” said Kirsty, emotion choking her voice, words too small, really, to convey the enormity of the journey and all those who have been a part of it.
Kirsty is experienced at five-star and a frequent face in the top results across other international levels over the years, but June has been a seismic breakthrough month for the 33-year-old.
After a Badminton Horse Trials that didn’t go to plan, resulting in Kirsty and Classic VI walking home from the Nyetimber Corners at fence 20, they re-routed. First to Millstreet CCI4*-S, where Kirsty bagged her first ever four-star win, then to Luhmühlen, where their German fairytale became a reality.
Kylie Roddy on the Fox Family’s SRS Kan Do and Fiona Kashel aboard WSF Carthago, owned by Frank Breach, were sixth and seventh respectively, which were also their top five-star results.
Kylie and Fiona, who travelled down together and could be seen ringside supporting each other all week, have both gone from making their five-star debuts to recording top 10 finishes at the level within eight months.
“The rail was completely my fault, so I feel I’ve let him down a little bit as he was jumping his socks off,” said Kylie, already reflecting on what she could do to boost her performance in that phase.
“He’s a really good jumper and he has a canter that you can just keep coming to your fence on, and he wants to be careful at the fence. That’s what gives him his superpower.
“I’m proud of him, our journey and that the system we’ve got at home works for him. Whenever we hit something, we try and work it out, whether it’s a management problem or a riding problem. Sometimes I’ve got to take myself to task. The important thing when you’re trying to get these results is to look back at each phase and to be really honest with yourself on where you were good, and where you need to go and practice.
“A lot of people think I’m being negative about the way I dissect that. But actually, without being honest about those bits that aren’t ideal, there’s no way you’ll move forwards and be better the next time you go out.”
Kylie, who like Kirsty re-routed from Badminton, found learnings there that put them in good stead for Luhmühlen. The Fox family’s 12-year-old gelding lost a shoe at Badminton, so Kylie pulled him up at the Vicarage Ditch to save him for another day. Another lost shoe at Little Downham led to a shoeing re-think by farrier Grieg Elliott, which paid dividends at Luhmühlen.
“I’m always proud of him – at Badminton when the shoe fell off, I couldn’t not be proud of him, because everything he had done to that point was so good,” said Kylie.
“You control the controllables, but the uncontrollable came and got us that day. I keep calling it our ‘five-star short’ because in a way, he has come here and capitalised again on that. The horse is an out-and-out machine across country.
“He’s had his little bits and pieces in the past, where he has been a big rangy horse and I haven’t had the steering quite right. But in his heart and in his head he wants to jump the fence and gallop like a demon, and that’s what makes him an event horse.”
Showjumping is Fiona’s strongest phase, and her experience showed with one of the few jumping clears over Marco Behrens course. The pair added 0.8 of a showjumping time-penalty to their two-phase score, finishing on 37.3.
“I was just grateful to get round Badminton and now I’m seventh in the second five-star that I’ve done!” she said.
“He is a really good jumper. He was fresh coming out this morning, and he was fresh when he finished the cross-country cooling off area. He is a freak of nature. He is incredible, he did a really good test and he has jumped foot-perfectly.”
Oliver Townend and Lukas, with whom he was on a “fact finding mission” this week, completed the British quartet in the top-10, finishing eighth on a score of 38 for Lukas’ owner Sir John Peace.
The stars did not align for all Brits this week. Hearts broke for Tom McEwen and Bubby Upton on cross-country day, while luck deserted David Doel and Ferro Point within touching distance of the finish line – and a potential top 10 spot – in the showjumping today.
David and the neat little mare, owned by Christine Lees, had jumped clear until the final fence, when the saddle – which had appeared to have started to slip during the round – slid to a point of no return and David was unseated within yards of the finish line.
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