‘She fought for me’: all change at the top of the Luhmühlen five-star leaderboard after cross-country

Tim Price and the 11-year-old grey mare Ascona M (pictured top) lead the way after the cross-country at the Longines CCI5*-L Luhmühlen Horse Trials today (15 June). They added two time-faults to a 25.8 dressage.

“She was ultra-smooth the whole way round,” said Tim of the mare, owned by Suzanne Houchin, Lucy and Ben Sangster and Sir Peter Vela. “It was nice to discover that she could fight to the end for me like she did around a track that long.”

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Tim has just 1.9 penalties in hand going into the final showjumping phase over second-placed Alex Bragg and Zagreb (pictured below). This pair were one of four to get inside the 11min 14sec optimum time around the Mike Etherington-Simth-designed track.

“I’m thrilled with my horse and the organisers have done an amazing job on the ground, given how this place looked at 7am this morning,” said Alex.

Indeed the ground drained incredibly well with the deluge of rain that fell overnight and earlier this morning.

Completing the top three is another Brit, Sarah Bullimore, with Reve Du Rouet, who posted a classy clear, one second inside the time, to finish on their 31.1 dressage.

“Reve Du Rouet is the one horse I would jump any course on,” said Sarah. “He would jump the moon for you and I trust him.”

Tom McEwen has risen from 11th place after the dressage into fourth with Figaro van het Broekxhof, thanks to a clear jumping round, stopping the clock bang on the optimum time to go into the showjumping on their 32.3 dressage.

Kazuma Tomoto, who led the dressage, retired Brookpark Vikenti on-course after a run out at an angled brush after a rail and ditch at fence 14, plus another run out at the third water at a triple brush (fence 18).

Five-star first-timers Frances (Frankie) Thieroit Stutes of the United States and Chatwin, who were third after the first phase, jumped clear across country but picked up 6.4 time-faults, dropping them to eighth.

Becky Woolven is the next best-placed Brit, sitting in ninth with DHI Babette K, while Sarah Bullimore’s second ride Conpierre is in 10th.

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Of the 33 starters, 22 completed the cross-country. Five combinations retired on-course, while six were eliminated, but all horses and riders were reported to walk away from the four falls that occurred.

The final horse inspection for the five-star competition gets underway at 8am (BST) tomorrow morning, with the showjumping starting at 10am (BST).

Don’t miss the full report from Luhmühlen in the 20 June issue of Horse & Hound magazine