Germany’s Julia Krajewski scored the biggest win of her career after riding Samourai du Thot to victory at her home event, the DHL Luhmühlen CCI 4*, at the weekend.
Silver Olympic team medalist Krajewski, 28, was third year last year at her first attempt, but now she goes home with the big prize after the fairytale failed to come true for cross country leader Bettina Hoy.
There had been little difference in the leaderboard after a straightforward cross country phase of the fifth FEI Classics leg, but a challenging jumping track certainly shook up the order, with only four clear rounds without time penalties from the 34 finishers.
Krajewski, second after Saturday’s cross country, hit the back rail of fence eight, and Britain’s Nicola Wilson, third before jumping on Bulana, jumped clear but added a frustrating three time faults to finish a mere 0.7 behind in second place, a career best for the 2012 Olympic team silver medallist who has been a solid pathfinder for the British team.
Hoy won the 3* German championships earlier in the day but her problems in the 4* started with a sticky jump over the fifth fence on Designer 10 and the horse then didn’t get high enough over the sixth for a rail down. That, plus three time penalties, dropped Hoy to third place.
Marilyn Little (USA) was clear to move up to fourth on RF Scandalous and Maxime Livio (FRA), currently runner-up in the FEI Classics, was also foot-perfect, rising six places to fifth on Opium de Verrieres.
Livio has now managed to narrow the gap with runaway FEI Classics leader Michael Jung (GER) to just six points, and Wilson has sprung from 11th place in the rankings to third, so a thrilling finish is guaranteed at the finale at Burghley (GBR) in September.
Here’s how the event panned out.
Bettina Hoy showed the way to younger riders with a mark of 36.0 on her 13-year-old Westphalian gelding Designer 10, proving she was in with a great chance of winning her home country’s premier event, since triumphing there in 2005 on Ringwood Cockatoo.
Triple Olympian Hoy, 54, who divides her time between competing, caring for her elderly parents and training the Dutch Eventing team, is renowned for her artistry in the dressage arena and showed the way to younger riders with a mark of 36.0 on her 13-year-old Westphalian gelding Designer 10.
“Designer was really relaxed today. I was a little annoyed about the small fault we had in the first extended trot, but otherwise he felt great,” Hoy said. “In fact, the last trot was so good I almost forgot to halt for the final salute!”
Julia Krajewski, who made a sparkling four-star debut at Luhmühlen last year when third on the athletic Selle Francais Samurai du Thot, is second on 37.1 and US rider Marilyn Little, riding the mare RF Scandalous, a newcomer to this level, is third on 38.0. Britain’s Nicola Wilson conjured a mark of 38.7 on the lively black mare Bulana, a notably bold cross-country performer, for overnight fourth.
Michael Jung (GER), the clear leader in the FEI Classics series, is not riding in the 4* at Luhmühlen, but Maxime Livio (FRA), currently second in the standings and winner of Pau and runner-up to Jung at Kentucky, is and is lying in 12th place on Opium de Verrieres. Badminton winner Andrew Nicholson (NZL), third on the Classics leaderboard, is 29th on Tesio ahead of what promises to be an exciting cross-country day.
Luhmühlen, Germany’s main championship venue, is celebrating its 60th anniversary – it’s the second oldest event in the FEI Classics after Badminton – and has received a royal visit from its patron, The Princess Royal.
“There is so much that is excellent about Luhmühlen: the course, the way it’s run, the hospitality and the way everyone is treated. Over 60 years there have been so many people who rose to the occasion,” Princess Anne said.
Bettina Hoy retained her lead after cross country, showing her more than three decades’ experience of Luhmühlen’s wooded tracks and testing water complexes – she competed there in the 1982 World Championships – and she punched the air with delight as a perfectly timed round on Designer 10 kept her in pole position.
“My watch stopped working around the seven minute mark, which left me a little unsure about the time, but I know he is a really fast horse, so I knew I would be able to just go for it!” Hoy said.
Before the first riders had set off, German team trainer Hanz Helzer said: “Everything has been built beautifully with some big jumps, which should not be underestimated. [New course-designer] Mike Etherington-Smith [GBR] has created something very different, which has been positively received.”
Julia Krajewski and Samourai du Thot thrilled a bumper home crowd enjoying brilliant sunshine and great sport with their superb performance. They are still in second place and clearly laid the ghost of an unhappy elimination at the Rio Olympics last year.
Nicola Wilson showed all her horsemanship to contain her bold mare, Bulana, and they moved up to third place after Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, third after dressage, picked up 6.8 time penalties and slipped to ninth. The 50 penalties initially awarded to Little for missing a flag at a skinny brush arrowhead were removed after the Ground Jury reviewed video footage of the incident.
Otherwise, the leaderboard is little changed at the top, apart from the departure of Astier Nicolas and Molokai, fifth after dressage, after the French Olympic gold medallist was unseated at the water complex at 19.
Britain’s Sarah Bullimore (Lilli Corinne) has moved up two places to fourth and within a fence of the leader after a clear round eight seconds inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 11 seconds. Maxime Livio moved up a place to 11th on Opium de Verrieres.