‘Sensitive’ gelding – and horse bred for hacking – delight British five-star first-timers at Luhmühlen

  • Two British riders making their five-star debuts at Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials hold provisional fifth and 10th place following the first day of CCI5* dressage.

    Northallerton-based Storm Straker, 25, and her mother Victoria’s Fever Pitch, danced their way to overnight fifth on a score of 33.6.

    “There was quite an atmosphere in the arena, probably more than he’s ever been in,” said Storm, who has had the 10-year-old gelding since he was four.

    “I made a couple of errors, the last change I messed up and got the timing wrong, and in the extended canter I decided to go really bold and didn’t quite bring him back in time, so it could have been better but I’m happy. I adore him to pieces, he’s the best in my eyes. He’s so cuddly, so sweet, and he really, really tries.

    “He’s a sensitive horse and it’s taken time to get him confident in some of the movements in the dressage, but my coach Nicola Naprstek and I have taken it slowly with him to get him where he is.”

    The pair make their five-star debut at Luhmühlen fresh from their first CCI4*-L victory, at Ballindenisk, Ireland, in April.

    “Being here is very different to Ballindenisk but it does give me a little bit of confidence knowing that he’s capable,” said Storm.

    “There’s excitement, but I want to be competitive. I’ve come here thinking ‘Yes it’s a five-star – but it’s no different to a four-star’, in that I’m treating it as a normal competition.”

    Bred to be a happy hacker

    Caroline Harris made her five-star debut today with the striking 10-year-old Billy Mexico son D Day, owned by Fiona Olivier, Lucy Matthews, Marie Anne Richardson and Heather Royale.

    Caroline and D Day scored 34.9 to sit in provisional 10th in the CCI5* following the first day of Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5* dressage.

    “He tried really hard, bless him,” said Caroline, who trains with dressage rider Dannie Morgan on the flat.

    “I was really pleased with his trot work because that wouldn’t be his strongest bit, and I felt he was really good in that. I was a little bit disappointed with his walk because he normally has a very good walk, but he’s only 10 and it’s his first ever five-star so I’m just over the moon.”

    Caroline and D Day have produced a number of good results together including third in the Chatsworth CCI4*-S last spring, fourth in the Blenheim nine-year-old class in September, and victory in the Thoresby CCI3*-S in March.

    “He’s quite little and nippy and I heard it’s quite twisty here so I thought why not give it a go. He’s run really well this year, he’s been brilliant,” she said.

    “He’s pretty laid back and he just has a heart of gold. He tries really hard and I feel very lucky to have him.”

    Caroline, who was based with Sam Griffiths for 10 years before moving to H&H columnist Mark Phillips’ yard in 2021, has produced D Day since he was four.

    “Fiona (Olivier) bred him for her son’s girlfriend at the time to be a happy hacker/hunter, then he came to me and he’s just gone up, and up and up,” said Caroline.

    “You never look at him and think ‘Wow he’s a superstar’, but he’s super trainable and always gives me 100% all the time. You can’t really ask more than that from him.”

    Luhmühlen dressage leaders overnight

    Laura Collett and Hester hold the overnight lead in the Luhmühlen CCI5*, with Tom McEwen and CHF Cooliser in second and Belgium’s Lara De Liedekerke-Meier in third with Hooney D’Arville. Alex Bragg will be first to go in the five-star dressage on Friday (14 June) at 12.30pm UK time (1.30pm local time), after the CCI4*-S dressage in the morning.

    Germany’s Anna Lena Schaaf and Fairytale 39 head the CCI4*-S dressage after day one. Michael Jung is in provisional second with Kilcandra Ocean Power, and Tim Price is currently third on Coup De Coeur Dudevin.

    The action begins with the CCI4*-S dressage tomorrow (14 June) with Ireland’s Stephan Dubsky and Karla in front of the judges at 7.15am UK time (8.15am local time).

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