Lucinda Fredericks presented a typically polished performance to lead after dressage at Luhmühlen with Flying Finish.
The pair, who were 2nd here in 2012, were the only ones to break the 40 barrier — their score of 38.7 leaving them just over 2pen ahead of 2nd-placed Michael Jung and his 4-star first-timer fischerRocana FST (41.5).
Lucinda rerouted here from Badminton after the 12-year-old gelding caught himself on a fence early on and was pulled up very lame.
“We think he hit a nerve and it gave him a dead leg,” explained Lucinda. “He had a week off and then I brought him back into work. He’s on great form.”
Their consistent test was rewarded with a good smattering of 8s and 9s.
“I found myself glancing at the scoreboard early on and could see lots of 7s, so I said to myself, ‘come on Lucinda, what do you need to do to turn these 7s into 8s’? I sat up and rode for a bit more.”
What Michael Jung’s 9-year-old mare may have lacked in extravagance, she more than made up for with correctness and rideability.
“She is very good in her head and she concentrates very well,” confirmed the Olympic, World and European champion.
Luhmühlen darling Ingrid Klimke lies 3rd with Horseware Hale Bob on a score of 42, ahead of the Dutch combination Elaine Pen and Vera on 43.2.
William Fox-Pitt is the highest-placed Brit with Cool Mountain (pictured right) on a score of 43.5. This leaves him in 6th place.
Oliver Townend and Black Tie are 9th on 45, while Willa Newton’s accomplished performance on Neelix earned her a 40s mark — 48 — and leaves her 13th overnight.
Mark Phillips’ course has undergone some subtle tweaks. The first water, which saw several falls last year, has been softened by allowing horses to land on the grass after the first element rather than dropping straight in, while the step out has been replaced with a slope.
“There are plenty of places that could catch you out, especially from fence 14 onwards,” said Lucinda. “The coffin [fence 26] with the angled brush coming out, in particular, will need a lot of respect.”
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