Young British rider claims Luhmühlen five-star: ‘This is the best day ever’ *H&H Plus*

  • Find out how winner Mollie Summerland prepared for her least favourite phase of the competition and who she paid tribute to after claiming victory

    Mollie Summerland topped the Luhmühlen Horse Trials results for the Longines CCI5* this morning (20 June).

    The 23-year-old British rider showjumped clear with just 1.2 time-faults to complete her pillar to post lead on her own Charly Van Ter Heiden.

    “I always thought to myself I wasn’t that good under pressure and I really don’t like showjumping,” admitted Mollie afterwards. “I videoed the course and sent all the videos to Jay Halim, who I’ve recently started training with, and he talked me round the course.

    “I felt that whatever happened when I went in there, I was proud of what I’d done and if I was second or third, that’s enough for me. I was happy with my performance before I’d even gone in and I imagined in my head I was at a normal showjumping.”

    Mollie paid tribute to the Luhmühlen organisers for running the show amid the pandemic, to her trainers Carl Hester, Olivia Oakley, Robin Dumas and Jay and to the World Class structure and British support team, all of whom have been helping her remotely this week.

    “This is the best day ever and I don’t it ever to end,” she said. “To sum up how I feel is nearly impossible. This horse has changed my life and I hope his breeder Klaus Steffens, who came to see him yesterday, is very proud of what he created.”

    That Mollie made it to Luhmühlen at all was an extraordinary feat – when the German travel ban hit, she was desperate still to ride at her second five-star and continue the momentum after 10th at Pau last year. Understandably nervous of making the journey alone, with the requirement for multiple border crossings and 10 days out of the UK, she approached journalist Tilly Berendt at Houghton Horse Trials and asked if she might go with her.

    Tilly accepted the challenge and masterminded the pair’s trip across Europe – as a measure of what Tilly took on, at one point in the build-up, she made 40 phone calls across four countries in one day. The pair went to Dutch rider Tim Lips’ base to spend the required period outside the UK, took in a showjumping competition in the Netherlands – which Mollie said today was very helpful as it had a similar feel to Luhmühlen – and then travelled on to the German event.

    “It was an amazing experience to go to Tim’s but also quite hard,” she told H&H after her dressage. “I was chatting to Tim about it and he said the only other time riders would be in another country as long is generally before a big championship and riders find it really difficult because they have so much spare time on their hands and a lot of headspace, which they aren’t used to. It’s tempting to overwork horses so I had to be strict on myself to avoid doing that with Charly.”

    The field at Luhmühlen had been decimated by the travel ban, with more than 70 starters dwindling to 25 for Wednesday’s trot-up. But no one can beat competitors who are not present and to win any five-star is a huge achievement.

    It did look like Mollie might falter at the final hurdle today, with Charly rattling a few fences and the clock ticking over the permitted 93 seconds as they completed Marco Behrens’s course. But nothing fell and her three seconds over the target left her 1.9 penalties ahead of the field.

    Luhmühlen Horse Trials results: international podium

    The top three was all about youth and rising stars. Christoph Wahler, 27, took second with a secure clear today on his own and Lena Thoenies’ grey Carjatan S. He is on Germany’s Olympic longlist and with most of the contenders in the CCI4*-S here, it’s tricky to know where he might rank for a Tokyo spot, but with Germany usually announcing their championship team immediately after Luhmühlen, that question is likely to be answered imminently.

    Ariel Grald was the oldest podium rider and is still only 32 – she punched in a strong result for the USA by jumping clear to move up from fourth overnight to third on Anne Eldridge’s impressively rangey Leamore Master Plan. He did hit fence seven, the upright with blue candy striped poles, quite hard today, but luck was with her and it stayed up.

    Britain’s Emilie Chandler was third overnight, but she and Maria Doel’s Gortfadda Diamond had the second part of the double at fence 10 and the final airy parallel at fence 13 down to drop to sixth.

    Clears secured fourth for France’s Luc Chateau (Troubadour Camphoux) and fifth for Michael Jung (FischerWild Wave). It is worth noting that had the German not incurred 11 penalties yesterday for breaking a frangible pin when his ride left a leg at the rail into the combination at fence 28a, he would have beaten Mollie by 0.1 of a penalty.

    British-based New Zealand rider Samantha Lissington held seventh with the first part of the double at fence 10 down and 1.2 time-faults on Ricker Ridge Rui.

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