Overnight British one-two in Luhmühlen five-star dressage as mares lead the way

  • Laura Collett and Hester sit at the top of the leaderboard overnight after the first day of Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* dressage.

    “The highlights were the fact she didn’t lose her marbles!” said a thrilled Laura after the test.

    Laura and 13-year-old Hester, owned by Lucy Nelson, scored 30.6 to sit just a small margin ahead of Tom McEwen and CHF Cooliser, who were first to go in the five-star dressage this afternoon (13 June). Tom posted a 30.8 score aboard Vicky Bates and David Myers’ 14-year-old chestnut mare. Belgium’s Lara De Liedekerke-Meier is in provisional third with 11-year-old mare Hooney D’Arville, owned by the Five Star Eventers SRL and Larga SPRL.

    Laura said Hester continues to get “better and better” in the dressage phase. The pair produced a pleasing test, just losing some marks with blips in the flying changes.

    “I’m absolutely delighted with her,” said Laura. “She’s starting to trust me and realise it’s not going to be the end of the world when she goes into a dressage arena.

    “Each time she goes in and doesn’t lose her mind it’s a step in the right direction.”

    Laura has had the ride on Hester since 2021, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing in getting to this stage.

    “I’ve never had a full run-through, she’s always had a little niggle here or there, and had to have time off. Blenheim last year through to now has been the first time I’ve got any consistent work into her,” said Laura.

    “It’s just been figuring her brain out and getting her to take a deep breath. She can do all the moves apart from the changes, as long as she’s relaxed. Her trot work is stunning, she really feels secure in that, and the next step is to get the canter just as secure. But to be honest for her to get any flying change is a massive highlight so I’m absolutely over the moon with her.”

    Laura, who doesn’t wear spurs with Hester in the dressage phase, added that she’s a “very sensitive” horse.

    “I used to have to ride a test completely with neck-rein and no leg at all, so the fact I can get my leg anywhere near her is pretty marvellous!”

    Aiming for Hester’s first five-star completion

    Laura will be hoping for Hester’s first five-star completion at Luhmühlen this weekend. The pair retired during the cross-country phase at Badminton last month when Hester went “very green”. Following a positive subsequent run at Bicton when she “felt like Hester again”, the decision was made to take her to the German event.

    “She started really well at Badminton and felt great, then with the amphitheatre of the lake she just didn’t know what on earth was going on, or what to look at. Badminton is a different level, there’s nowhere to put the wheels back on when they fall off – and they very much fell off at the lake. We jumped a few more and she just didn’t feel like her at all. So I thought ‘We’ll go home and put the wheels back on’,” explained Laura.

    “At Bicton she came out of the start box grabbing the bridle, ears pricked and awesome, so while she’s fit and well, and because we have had to miss so much with her, I thought we’d bring her here. I think the track should suit her, it’s a five-star and she’s not a proven five-star horse yet, but hopefully after this weekend we can say that she is.”

    Tom McEwen second in Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* dressage

    Tom McEwen believed CHF Cooliser, who has three five-star completions under her belt, produced one of her best tests to date this afternoon.

    “I’m delighted with ‘Eliza’, she concentrated throughout so I’m very happy,” he said. “There were some great highlights, but for me that was as near enough of a clear round as we can do. Especially at five-star, you’ve just got to put yourself in the game and then go from there.

    “She was really rhythmical throughout. She has a great walk but it doesn’t always show in the arena, and I thought she definitely showed that today. The trot work was lovely and smooth, and in the canter work we got all the changes and lovely half passes.

    “This was CCI5* test A so everything comes up quite quickly. It comes short and sharp so you’ve got to be there ready and prepared for it and she definitely was, whereas sometimes she can be doing her own thing.”

    The Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* dressage continues tomorrow (14 June), with 21 combinations – including 11 Brits – still to go. Alex Bragg and Ardeo Premier kick off the five-star action at 12.30pm UK time (1.30pm local time), after the CCI4*-S dressage in the morning.

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