Top partnership delivers in Luhmuhlen Horse Trials CCI4*-S cross-country – as Brits come knocking

  • Germany’s Michael Jung and FischerChipmunk FRH delivered yet another masterclass to remain at the top of the leaderboard after the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI4*-S cross-country today (15 June).

    Following the morning’s dramatic thunderstorm during the five-star class, the rain made way to give the riders a more pleasant run around course-designer Mike Etherington Smith’s twisty and intense track. Of the 60 cross-country starters, 53 completed – with 43 jumping clear and only two inside the 6 minute 56 second optimum time.

    Overnight leader Michael was second last to go with 16-year-old FischerChipmunk FRH, and produced a clear jumping round, adding 3.2 time-penalties to their 22.9 dressage. Earlier in the session Michael jumped clear (with 5.6  time-penalties) aboard 11-year-old Kilcandra Ocean Power, who sits sixth ahead of the showjumping.

    Michael – who is vying for the German national champion title in the Meßmer Trophy CCI4*-S – was thrilled with both his rides.

    “On two lines I did an extra stride; fence 6ab (Willke rail Kombination), I did seven strides with my first horse and it felt good so I did the same with FischerChipmunk,” said Michael.

    “He was just amazing, he gave me a great feeling today. He was very easy to ride, listening, and galloping super, it was just a wonderful feeling. In my head there’s a few more weeks, then there’s hopefully somewhere we can go…”

    Laura Collett and London 52 keep the pressure on

    Laura Collett, who won last year’s Luhmühlen five-star class with London 52, showed off his versatility, making light work of the CCI4*-S to stay in overnight second. Laura and her own, Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett’s 15-year-old gelding added 1.6 time-penalties to their dressage score, to go into the showjumping phase tomorrow (16 June) on 26.4. This keeps the pressure on Michael and FisherChipmunk who are on 26.1, and can’t afford to have a pole.

    Laura described her cross-country round as “amazing”, adding: “It was quite a lot of pressure, we’re getting close now to Paris and selection, and it’s just trying not to make a silly mistake.

    “But that horse is unbelievable and I have to just remind myself how lucky I am to ride him, and believe in him because he’s sensational, and he loves it here. The combination at fence 6, I thought about turning left and he went to turn, and I thought ‘Not yet’, because we’re not lined up for it. That’s where he’s got so good that when I look, he turns, so I just need to make sure I don’t do it to the wrong one! But he’s fantastic.”

    Laura added that London 52 is “such a great horse because he’s so adaptable”.

    “He can gallop round a five-star, but he can be nippy round a tight four-star. It rode very intense today, things came up very quickly, and you don’t have that slight breathing space like you do in the five-star where you can put yourself back together and think about the next fence. It comes up on you super quickly, but he’s so quick thinking and always looking for the next fence, so I just need to make sure I point at the right one.”

    “My horse of a lifetime”

    Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir crept up from overnight seventh ahead of the Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI4*-S cross-country to slot into third going into the final phase. They stopped the clock at 6 minutes 59 seconds, for 1.2 time-penalties. The only rounds inside the time came from Germany’s Anna Siemer and FRH Butts Avondale (6 minutes 53 seconds) who is in provisional 11th, and New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Damasco (6 minutes 56 seconds), who lie in 12th.

    Yasmin said Janette Chinn and the Sue Davies Fund’s 15-year-old was “super at every combination”.

    “We didn’t have any hairy moments. We got a little bit close to the brush in the water (fence 19ab Longines Wasser), but it was just because he has such a huge stride. He’s an amazing horse and I’m so lucky to ride him.

    “He’s fast, he’s brave, he’s careful. The most fantastic part about it is he just loves it, he’s such a cross-country horse. He is my horse of a lifetime. We’ve gone up the levels together pretty much, and winning my very first senior individual medal at the 2022 World Championships is something I will never ever forget.”

    Biting at Yasmin’s heels is Tom McEwen and JL Dublin, who rose from 10th after the dressage (on a 28.4 score) to fourth ahead of the showjumping. The pair recorded the same cross-country time and time-penalties as Yasmin and Banzair Du Loir, and their dressage scores are separated going into the final phase by just 0.3 of a penalty.

    Tom said Jo and James Lambert and Deidre Johnston’s 13-year-old gelding was “bold, straight, and keen” across country.

    “He was definitely very fresh after having a few easier weeks after Kentucky (where they were runners-up in April). I couldn’t be happier. I just lost a bit of time through the woods where I wasn’t quite willing to fly down the hills at the last couple,” he said.

    Praise for Mike Etherington Smith’s cross-country courses

    “I’m sure the results look like the track has jumped really well, but there are a lot of Olympic combinations here – or vying for spots – so you’re looking at top-class horses here this week. Yes of course the fences have jumped well, but at the same time they should if you ride them well enough and you’re on good horses,” said Tom.

    Tom added that both Mike’s courses had been “fantastic”.

    “They’ve ridden as they’ve walked. They’ve been clear and true, there’s been some proper lines, skinnies, hidden fences and use of the ground, there’s been everything,” he said.

    “There’s nowhere else we could have had these storms today and still continued with the best footing going. It’s been fantastic.”

    The top five after the Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI4*-S cross-country is rounded off by Germany’s Julia Krajewski and Nickel 21. The CCI4*-S trot up takes place at 7am UK tomorrow (8am local time). The showjumping gets under way at 11.15am UK time (12.45pm).

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