New Zealand eventer Tim Price has taken out the CCI5*-L at the Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany, successfully defending the title won by his wife Jonelle last year.
The World No.1 eventer and Ascona M picked up time penalties in the showjumping but still finished 2.1 penalty points ahead of runner-up Tom McEwen and Figaro van het Broekxhof.
Price last won the top prize at Luhmuhlen in 2014.
“It’s very special for me to compete here again. I won my first four-star competition here in 2014 and I’m so happy that things went so well again this year,” Price said.
“It makes me really proud that the mare has performed so consistently in all three phases. She does have a bit of an unconventional jumping technique, but that’s because she always tries so hard to do everything right,” Price said of the 11-year-old holsteiner mare.
They had led from the cross-country phase, in Ascona M’s first tilt at a CCI5*-L – the highest ranked competition in eventing and one of just six at this level in the world. But their lead up to Luhmuhlen was ideal, including winning the CCI4*-S at Tattersalls in Ireland.
“The mare is a real fighter. When we first bought her, she was quite small so Jonelle got to rider her. But then she kept growing and growing, so I gave my wife a nudge every now and then and finally got to ride her when Jonelle was pregnant,” Price said.
Last to go in the jumping, the pressure was on. But once in the ring, it all came together. “You just go into methodical mode. She warmed up really well, with plenty of juice in the tank and then she went in and just jumped super. I knew at that stage I had a bit of time up my sleeve so I decided to take a bit of time but jump a clear round and that is exactly what happened. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Earlier this month the Rio Olympian was crowned the new World No.1 and last year won the Burghley (CCI5*-L) Horse Trials, marking the start of a points haul that would culminate with the top ranking. Price has also ridden for New Zealand at two World Equestrian Games.
Runner-up Tom McEwen worked his way steadily up the leader-board with Figaro van het Broekxhof over the weekend. After the dressage, McEwen was sitting in 11th place, but with a spotlessly clean cross-country round, he moved up to fourth place before the final showjumping phase.
McEwen, who has been riding the 14-year-old Belgian warmblood since 2018, was full of praise for his horse: “He has a very special character and always tries his best to please. I couldn’t be happier.”
Third place went to Alexander Bragg and Zagreb, who tried to put the pressure on Price and Ascona M, but took too any risks. “My horse felt fantastic. The time was very tight, so after we had cleared the triple combination, I felt like most of the work was done and took a little risk on the way to the next vertical. Unfortunately, this cost us the win. I’m super happy to be on the podium and with Zagreb’s performance.”
As the highest placed German rider, Andreas Ostholt finished the competition with Corvette in 11th place (43.60): “Since I knew I wouldn’t be on the podium, I focused on producing a clear-round and didn’t worry too much about the time.”
Of the original 33 starters, 22 completed all three phases.
German championship – CCI4*-S Meßmer Trophy
Julia Krajewski and Samourai du Thot took out the German Championship for the second consecutive year, finishing ahead of Ingrid Klimke and young horse SAP Asha P, with Dirk Schrade and Unteam de la Cense third.
Luhmühlen is a happy hunting ground for Krajewski; In 2017, she won the four-star competition, and in 2018 she won the CIC3*-Meßmer Trophy / German Championship, both with her faithful partner Samourai du Thot, a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding.
“Sam thinks Luhmühlen is totally cool. He always stands like a monument in the prize-giving ceremony and I don’t know any horse I would rather ride into a show-jumping course with, if my lead was only 0.1 points. The pressure was certainly on, especially since I saw from the entrance that Asha was jumping extremely well. I’m really happy – it’s just fun when things go so well.”
Ingrid Klimke was also enthusiastic about the performance of her young horse SAP Asha P. The eight-year-old Brandenburger mare performed all three phases brilliantly. “It’s so much fun to compete against Julia. We had a full showground today – but when Julia and I rode it was completely quiet! Asha jumped so well and was completely relaxed. She’s amazing. I’m very proud of our second place today.”
Dirk Schrade and Unteam de la Cense also stayed clear inside the time. The rider, who is currently based in Holstein, summed up after the ride that it was certainly not his “best round”. Nevertheless, he was satisfied with his French-bred horse: “He touched three or four poles but luckily they all stayed put. I am super happy. We wanted to perform well here and we did.”