New course-designer for Luhmühlen Horse Trials

  • Mike Etherington-Smith is taking over as cross-country course-designer at Luhmühlen Horse Trials from next year.

    Mark Phillips has been responsible for the track since the event upgraded to four-star in 2005.

    Designing at the German event carries possibly even more pressure than any other four-star, because the relationship between the German media and eventing is finely balanced.

    A horse fatality at Luhmühlen in 2013 resulted in the decision to soften the CIC3* track  and the event’s future hung in the balance after the death of home side rider Benjamin Winter in a cross-country accident in 2014, plus another horse fatality.

    Last year’s incident-free cross-country day was a huge relief to the organisation.

    Mike Etherington-Smith, 61, is currently the designer for the four-star at Adelaide and he also used to be responsible for the course at Kentucky CCI4*. He has designed two Olympic tracks (Sydney 2000 and Hong Kong 2008).

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    He said: “I am truly honoured to have been asked to become the course-designer at Luhmühlen, one of the highest profile and best organised events in the world with a superb reputation, and I am very much looking forward to working with [director] Julia Otto and her excellent team.

    “Mark has done a terrific job and I hope that I can continue his good work in further developing the courses that have proved to be so popular and successful.”

    Mark said: “Luhmühlen has always been a special place for me, as a rider, an official and obviously more recently as course-designer.

    “[Director] Julia Otto and her team have always been the most supportive and have produced a wonderful atmosphere in which to work. I can only thank her and her partners for their belief in me over the years and I feel privileged to have been able to help make Luhmühlen the special event that it is today.

    “I would also thank David Evans and his team for their wonderful work in building the fences and helping to improve the footing.

    “I am sad to be leaving, but look forward to seeing how Mike develops the course in the future, particularly with the new tracks through the woods before the Meßmer Teich [water complex].”

    Event director Julia Otto added: “Before Mark was appointed course-designer in 2005, he acted as technical delegate for two years.

    “When I collected him from the airport for the first time in 2003, he asked me straight away when Luhmühlen would become a four-star competition. From that moment on, we worked together to develop the event and transact our goal.

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    “I’m deeply grateful for his long-standing support. In addition to his outstanding work as Luhmühlen’s course-designer, he always saw the big picture and considered the interests of our sponsors and the media.”

    Luhmühlen is the second four-star to announce a change of course-designer in as many weeks, as last week Eric Winter was revealed to be taking over the track at Badminton from Giuseppe della Chiesa.

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