The evergreen 17-year-old “Maggie May” – a pretty and petite little grey with a fiercely competitive streak – was back on a redemption mission after a fall here last year.
The pair, who lifted the Luhmühlen Horse Trials five-star trophy in 2018, skipped across Mike Etherington-Smith’s influential five-star course to come home a second inside the time. They hold sixth place ahead of cross-country on a score of 31.6.
“She knows her way around a five-star – she particularly knows her way around Luhmühlen!” said Jonelle, who co-owns the mare with Jacky Green and breeder Trisha Rickards.
“I had a bit of a score to settle after a silly moment last year, so it’s nice to come here and she really gave me a lovely ride. She’s a bit unique at times, her jump can go a bit skewiff or up and down, but you know she’s always fighting for the flags and she’s always looking where she’s going.
“She feels fantastic, otherwise we wouldn’t bring them here. It really is one day at a time, I can honestly say she felt as good as ever out there today.”
Kirsty Chabert’s ride, Classic VI, owned by Carole Somers and John Johnston, is the highest-placed mare at this stage in the competition. The 13-year-old, by Calvaro F.C., is in fourth place after cross-country and 1.1 penalties adrift of overnight leaders Felix Vogg and Colero.
Frank and Margaret Kinsella’s diminutive chestnut looked in her element as she zipped through the woodland trails, stopping the clock bang on the optimum time of 11 minutes.
The pair were seventh here in 2018 and claimed individual bronze at the European Championships held at Luhmühlen in 2019. They head into the showjumping in provisional ninth place on a score of 34.9.
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