Luhmühlen bound: two Brits and former winners negotiate travel restrictions

  • Two British hopefuls and a handful of UK-based international riders remain in contention for the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials (17-20 June) after the German travel ban forced mass withdrawals.

    David Doel, who has three horses entered in the CCI5*, and Mollie Summerland are the remaining British competitors from more than 40 combinations.

    Germany’s Covid restrictions mean that most people cannot enter the country if they have been in the UK in the previous 10 days, as it is classed as an “area of virus variants of concern”.

    A spokesman for Luhmühlen told H&H on 28 May that there are no exceptions at present for athletes — riders and other sports. This meant that any British-based competitor who still wished to compete would have to spend at least 10 days in another country before continuing to Germany. These restrictions thinned the list considerably, with many opting to run at Bicton (9-14 June) instead, which has gone above and beyond to accommodate the extra runners.

    “It is such a disappointment for the British event riders and their horse owners that due to the pandemic and the travel restrictions that have had to be introduced, they will mostly not be able to come,” said British Equestrian’s eventing high performance coach, Chris Bartle.

    “I personally had been so looking forward to visiting Luhmühlen again and meeting up with friends and my German family.”

    But some have made it work.

    David told H&H that he was already planning on competing at Renswoude in the Netherlands (2-6 June) with two other horses, not destined for Luhmühlen, before the German travel ban was announced.

    Instead of accompanying those horses back to England, the horses went home without him and he remained in the Netherlands to be joined yesterday (9 June) by his three Luhmühlen runners. These are Dunges Don Perignon, Shannondale Quest and Carneyhaugh Rua.

    He said the cancellation of the British CCI5*s mean horses at this level have already missed opportunities, giving the example of Shannondale Quest who would have gone to Badminton in both 2020 and 2021 had the event not been cancelled.

    “I’m very lucky to have three in the five-star,” he said, adding his owners have been “so supportive”.

    “Competing at these big competitions is what I do [this sport] for. I’ve never been to Luhmühlen, so it’s quite exciting.”

    David credited his wife, Charlotte, and team at home for the preparations they have done with his five-star rides.

    He also thanked Jos Houben, who has put him up at his base in the Netherlands and Equine Logistics’ Lydia Webb (“she deserves a medal”) for negotiating the post-Brexit and pandemic-related logistics and paperwork.

    Mollie is spending her quarantine in the Netherlands at the base of Dutch Olympic rider Tim Lips, before continuing to Germany. She is entered with her own 12-year-old gelding Charly Van Ter Heiden, with whom she finished 10th at her five-star debut at Pau 2020. The pair have numerous top 10 finishes at four-star, including eighth at Houghton CCIO4*-S (27-30 May), which was their last run ahead of Luhmühlen.

    New Zealand’s Jonelle and Tim Price have their respective 2018 and 2019 Luhmühlen CCI5* winners Ascona M and Faerie Dianimo among their horses entered. Tim told H&H last week that they were “endeavouring to find a way” to get there. The pair have also been out of the UK for some time as they were competing at Millstreet in Ireland last week.

    He later added: “Covid has made it extremely difficult to get to the event, but we are determined and are trying to make it happen. We are lucky to have a solid team of horses at five-star level and we feel we owe it to them to get them to Luhmühlen.

    “My plans are to have four healthy horses in good positions on Sunday, ready to jump lovely clear showjumping rounds.”

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    Australia’s Andrew Hoy, who has had multiple wins in Luhmühlen’s three-star (now four-star) classes over the years, has Vassily De Lassos and Bloom Des Hauts Crets entered in the CCI4*-S.

    The multiple Olympic medallist is quarantining in Belgium with the two horses, plus his children’s pony, Verity, who is keeping both the eventers and small charges company.

    “Luhmühlen has been a set fixture in my annual competition schedule and always offers perfect conditions for championship preparation – so let’s do it!” said Andrew on his Instagram page.

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