A competitive field of more than 50 riders representing 12 nations will be competing at this weekend’s German CCI 4* in Luhmühlen, for the fifth and penultimate leg of the FEI Classics 2013/2014.
For many riders the event from June 12 to 15 presented by DHL Paket is a crucial last chance to impress selectors before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France, in August, as well as an all-important opportunity to seize a foothold on the FEI Classics leaderboard before the final leg at Burghley in September.
The current first, third and fourth-placed riders on the FEI Classics leaderboard all have good rides at Germany’s premier event.
World number one William Fox-Pitt (GBR), already a three-time winner at Luhmühlen and victorious at Pau in 2013 and Kentucky this year, holds a commanding 15-point lead. He rides an old favourite, the thoroughbred Cool Mountain, a CCI4* winner of Kentucky in 2010 and a world team gold and individual silver medalist at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in the same year.
Australia’s Christopher Burton, who triumphed at Adelaide last year on a catch ride, has the 12-year-old mare Tempranillo, a ride he took over from Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal in 2013. The new combination won the CIC3* at Hartpury last year and were 22nd at Pau.
Oliver Townend, who won the FEI Classics in 2009 and was recently second at Badminton, has entered the ex-racehorse Black Tie ll for his first CCI4*.
The strong New Zealand squad includes Mark Todd with Oloa, who was re-routed from Kentucky after a disappointing dressage mark. Todd won the event in 1986 with his double Olympic gold medalist Charisma.
He is joined by Craig Nicolai and Just Ironic, Annabel Wigley on Frog Rock, Kate Wood on Easy Tiger, Lizzie Brown and Playtime, and husband-and-wife team Jonelle and Tim Price.
Jonelle has Classic Moet and The Deputy, whom she pulled up after an early run-out at Badminton, and Tim has the Tattersalls CIC3* winner Wesko, who took an unfortunate ducking in Badminton’s Lake on the first third of the course.
Lizzie Brown has had to withdraw her 2013 Boekelo CCI3* winner and recent Houghton Hall CIC3* runner-up Henton Attorney General, because of a minor injury, and last year’s FEI Classics winner, the world number two Andrew Nicholson, has also withdrawn the Spanish-bred Quimbo.
Lucinda Fredericks (AUS) has already won three of the world’s six CCI4*s – Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky – and in 2012 she came close to taking Luhmühlen on the German-bred Flying Finish when they were second. They were 10th last year and, after pulling up early at Badminton in May, she has brought the horse back for a third attempt on the Luhmühlen trophy. Her compatriots include Andrew Hoy who, like Fredericks, has yet to add Luhmühlen to his collection of CCI4* wins.
Some of the top German horses will be competing in the CIC3*, but former Luhmühlen winners Michael Jung, Bettina Hoy and Ingrid Klimke have CCI4* rides. Jung, the current Olympic, World and European Champion, rides Fischerrocana FST; Klimke has her European team gold and individual silver medallist FRH Escada JS, and Hoy rides the up-and-coming Designer in what promises to be a high-quality contest.
Longines, the FEI’s Top Partner, has for the first time joined Luhmühlen as official Time-keeper and Watch for this key leg.
“We are proud to be for the first time Official Timekeeper and Official Watch of Luhmühlen CCI 4*,” Walter von Känel, President of Longines, said.
“As First Top Partner, Official Timekeeper and Watch of the FEI, the partnership with this event, which is part of the FEI Classics, seemed natural. In addition, this competition perfectly illustrates the values of our brand, namely tradition, performance and precision.”
FEI Classics 2013/2014 Leaderboard (after 4 of 6 events)
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 30 points
2 Sam Griffiths (AUS) 15
3 Christopher Burton (AUS) 15
4 Oliver Townend (GBR) 12
5 Maxime Livio (FRA) 12
6 Lauren Kieffer (USA) 12
7 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
8 Phillip Dutton (USA) 11
9 Harry Meade (GBR) 10
10 Bruce Davidson Jnr (USA) 10