‘Today was my day’: Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* winner crowned following showjumping shake-up

  • Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and home-bred mare Hooney D’Arville topped the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* results following a dramatic final showjumping phase today (15 June).

    “I never thought there would be a chance. I knew I had a good horse and I just wanted to jump the best round I could,” said Lara.

    Lara and “Hooney” were third going into the showjumping, behind Ireland’s Jennifer Kuehnle and Polly Blue Eyes, and overnight leaders Ros Canter and Izilot DHI. Lara and the grey mare put in a flowing, forward clear, followed by a little lap of honour afterwards as the crowd got behind them and Lara hugged Hooney for her efforts.

    Ireland’s 22-year-old Jennifer knocked two poles, dropping them down the order to seventh in the Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* results. Then it all came down to Ros and Izilot DHI. Ros and the 11-year-old, who she co-owns with Alex Moody, could afford to have two poles and one time-penalty, but after using up their two lifelines in the final stages of the course, they then stopped the clock with two time-penalties, to drop down to fourth.

    Lara said she is usually quite a “slow rider” in the showjumping phase and that it had cost her victories in the past.

    “I thought it’s going to cost me again, but let’s just jump clear. A lot of people did nine strides to the last, and my jumping trainer said It’s definitely eight, just keep driving. I almost lifted my head to look at the clock, but I didn’t and thought ‘Just jump clear’.

    “Then I looked at the clock and thought ‘Oh, I’m inside the time.’”

    Lara was waiting by the warm-up with Hooney when she was informed by her husband Kai-Steffen Meier (Belgian eventing team manager) that she had won – before checking the results for herself.

    “Then all the Belgians came and jumped on me,” laughed Lara.

    “Today was my day”

    Lara said she has struggled with self-belief, and has had to come back from a number of challenges, including a fall at the first fence in the cross-country at the 2022 World Championships (with Hermione D’Arville).

    “I’m always watching them [other riders] on social media, and I never think I’m part of them. Maybe I should have a bit more self confidence here and there. I think at some point if you keep working and keep believing, and having good horses, then one day it comes together and today was my day,” she said.

    “I knew I wanted to do this sport. I love it, I love being with horses, I’m competitive, but the last two years have been hard. Falling at fence one at Pratoni, when you’re on the ground and you see your horse and you think ‘I’ve got to wake up, it’s not true’.”

    Lara added that she has worked a lot on her mindset.

    “Now I’m much stronger because I understand my mindset much better. I trust the process much more, maybe I was not ambitious enough, but it has been a system to put in place, and the team around me has been so important,” she said.

    Luhmühlen is also particularly poignant for Lara as it was Hooney’s mother Nooney Blue’s final competition here in 2011, where she suffered a career-ending injury. This year’s competition is Hooney’s five-star debut, and Lara’s return to the level since 2017.

    “We gave Nooney Blue time, then we tried having a foal and it didn’t work, but then we had Hooney,” explained Lara, adding that she has been a tricky mare to produce.

    “I was so emotionally involved and just wanted her to become a good horse.”

    “I knew everyone was right and that she was a good horse, but maybe I was just not her rider, which was hard for me to understand. And then I took off the pressure – I have four other horses qualified for Paris – and I never came here thinking I could be here now. I wouldn’t be here without her, she is a special one.”

    Two Brits on the podium

    Tom McEwen and 14-year-old mare CHF Cooliser, owned by Vicky Bates and David Myers, moved up from fourth after the cross-country to take second in the Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* results, thanks to a super clear round in the showjumping.

    “I’m just delighted with how Eliza went about her job today,” said Tom.

    “She’s very game, then in the arena today I remembered why I can’t really go any faster because I don’t have much control! Even though I barely ask for anything, she seems to have an argument and tell me that I’m wrong, so it’s much easier going her way. I’ve been delighted with her the whole weekend.”

    Yasmin Ingham and Janette Chin and the Sue Davies Fund’s 14-year-old gelding Rehy DJ finished third on the podium – a repeat of their Luhmühlen 2023 result. The pair were down in 28th after the dressage, then overnight sixth after a clear cross-country round inside the time. They finish the competition on their 36.9 dressage.

    “I think this is the story of eventing, it’s why it’s a three-phase competition. It’s never over until we finish on the final day, and you just need to believe and never give up,” said Yasmin.

    “I believe that I have a brilliant jumping horse, his best phases are the cross-country and showjumping, so I was very much looking forward to the weekend. Of course it was a little bit disappointing with his dressage score, he’s normally a little bit further up the leaderboard and can produce some really top scores, but he just wasn’t quite as onside with me as he can be. We’ll go away and work a little bit harder on that, and come out next time and try to be a bit more competitive in the dressage.

    “But my goodness, he’s just the most incredible jumping horse and he gives me the most amazing feeling. In the showjumping he’s careful and fast, he’s an absolute pleasure to ride and I feel very lucky to be the one piloting him.”

    “A lot to be proud of”

    While Izilot DHI’s second five-star title was not meant to be this weekend, Ros has taken away the positives.

    “I’m clearly disappointed of course, but with the recent events going on in the eventing world I think there’s much more to life than what we’ve just done today, so I’m very realistic,” she said.

    “I’m delighted with my horse, I’m extremely proud of the way he has coped with the week. He’s still so young and inexperienced. Of course I’m disappointed with the performance today, I’ll go and analyse it and look into my riding and see if I could do anything different. But onwards and upwards, we’ve got a happy healthy horse to take home with us.”

    Ros said that although she still has to watch her round back, she suspects Izilot DHI’s inexperience crept in.

    “He’s got a lovely long stride and the five down to the planks (fence 11) was a bit short, I got the nice five but whether I lost a bit of impulsion in the process, he just went a bit tight behind,” she said.

    “The double (fence 12ab) was quite close to the sides and he just spooked away from those a little bit, and again just went a bit tight behind, that would be the thing he would do slightly.

    “He’s just a young horse that went a bit inexperienced. Often with him we’re in a position where we’re quite high up the leaderboard so it kind of appears more disappointing, but I’ve got a lot to be proud of him for this week.”

    Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* results

    Alice Casburn and Topspin were fifth, and Kirsty Chabert and Opposition Heraldik Girl were sixth, with both Brits posting clears. Jennifer’s five-star debut concluded with two top-10 places; seventh with Polly, and eighth with Sammy Davis Junior. The fastest pair across country yesterday, David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed, dropped from overnight fifth to ninth after knocking two poles in the showjumping. Italy’s Piertro Sandei and Rubis De Prere were 10th.

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