Mark Todd: Luhmühlen is a four-star in name only [H&H VIP]

  • I’m delighted with NZB Campino’s (pictured) fifth place in the CCI4* at Luhmühlen. It was the first three-day event he has completed since the 2012 Olympics. First he had a series of niggling injuries and then last year we didn’t have any luck at Badminton or Bramham — in hindsight, probably because of those little setbacks.

    But he’s felt fantastic this year — he won the £9,500 Robert Loomes & Co watch for finishing closest to the optimum time when he won at Rockingham, and then he took the CIC3* at Tattersalls. I had thought of doing a CCI3* with him but, because of the very sad events at last year’s Luhmühlen, the word was out that it was not going to be a particularly difficult four-star, so we went there.

    We made one costly mistake in the dressage — he fluffed a change, which is not like him. He went fantastically across country, though, and cruised round 10sec under the time, before showjumping clear.

    The low dressage scores caused a bit of talk — were the judges happy to see us, or what? It’s great when they use the range of marks, but because they gave a lot of eights and 8.5s — which were perhaps too generous at times — they were left with nowhere to go when a horse really did impress.

    The best horses on the second day, such as FRH Escada JS and Faerie Dianimo, didn’t really get the difference in marks they deserved for their better tests.

    At the beginning of the week the cross-country going was on the firm side, but the organisers did a fantastic job irrigating and Verti-Draining it. The ground on Saturday was as good as you could hope for.

    The track was certainly a lot softer than it has been. We all understand why; the climate in Germany after the death of Benjamin Winter last year would not have brooked any sort of incident to horse or rider this year, and I gather they were very close to losing the event. It is a fantastic fixture and I’m so pleased for all involved that it went so well. But you have to ask, if you don’t want to run a true four-star cross-country, why not drop it to three-star?

    Dimensionally it was quite big, but the course was basically lots of big boxes in various positions. You could keep galloping at most things, which made the time pretty easy to get. There was a disappointing lack of variety of fences, and it was a four-star in name only, really. However, it is better to have the event than lose it, and perhaps the great success of this year will embolden the organisers again in the future.

    The showjumping was up to height but, again, not technical. The quality of the top few was such that while you can usually look at those ahead of you and think, “that might have a rail, so might that…”, this time I knew if I stayed fifth I’d be doing well. The first six or so would have finished that high in any event in the world, and full credit to Ingrid Klimke for winning her second CCI4* in under a year.

    Carrying top weight

    I’m doing something a bit different on 2 July — riding in a race. It’s at Newbury for the charity Key4Life. Do come and support me, the former cyclist Victoria Pendleton and Chris King, among others — and donate via www.justgiving.com/MarkTodd1 if you can.

    I’m galloping all my horses in my old racing saddles to strengthen up my legs — I just hope that whatever horse I ride has top weight, otherwise I might be struggling a bit!

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 25 June 2015