As Covid Rules Ease a Plethora of 5 star events in Europe
The weekend has supplied all in the horse world with a plethora of 5 star events, just in time for the expected Olympic Games in a month or so. We have seen some interesting racing at The Royal Ascot Meeting (see our daily reports) and we also had the first 5 star horse trials of the year in Luhmuhlen in Germany and three 5 star showjumping events in Sweden, France and Poland.
5 star Horse Trials at Luhmuhlen in Germany
In the 5 star (long) there were representatives from eleven nations competing with only a disappointing 25 entries, many with one rider having more than one horse. Unfortunately, with a new variant of Covid in the UK, the German government stopped anyone travelling from the UK to enter Germany which meant that 40 riders, all British based had to cancel their trip to Luhmuhlen. However, the German government did relent a couple of days before the event to allow the Brits to compete, but their decision came too late. Frankly, this shilly shallying around simply buggered up the whole event! Without doubt, sadly this was a below par event, but the fact it took place at all is a credit to the organisers and authorities. There was also a 4 star (Short) which attracted riders from 13 different nations and had far more in the class. In the 5 star, bereft of riders, there was only one day of dressage.
At the end of the day, Great Britain’s Mollie Summerland riding Charly Van ter Heiten, who did get to Germany, found herself in the lead with 29 penalties, one of only three scoring less than 30. The dressage riders all found conditions not to their liking. The weather was stifling at 34 degrees and the ground beneath the horses’ feet was not particularly stable. Mollie Summerland is more a dressage rider who trains with Car Hester and certainly does not consider herself to be in the top echelons of eventing, but was very satisfied to be leading after the first day, although the 23 year old did not expect to stay there after the next two phases. Tim Price (New Zealand) riding Ascona M was just in second with 29.1 penalties and was in third place on 29.2 penalties with Ringwood Sky Boy. Michael Jung was in fourth place.
The riders thought that the 31 fence cross country course designed by Great Britain’s Michael Etherington-Smith was a big but fair course, and it met with rider approval. 24 riders took on the challenge. There were 45 jumping efforts and an optimum time of 11 minutes. There were five combinations who went clear inside the time and much to her surprise, Mollie Summerland was the quickest in 10 minutes 50 seconds, so she maintained her first day at the top of the leader board. Others to get clears were Christopher Wahler from Germany and Cathal Daniels from Ireland who had two clear and finally David Doel. Five other combinations were eliminated and there were two fallers. The most troublesome fence appeared to be a brush arrowhead, where there were 6 run outs. At the end of the day, the leader board had changed dramatically, save for the leader herself, Mollie Summerland still on 29 penalties after the dressage. Standing second with 32.1 penalties was Christopher Wahler riding Carijartan S with Great Britain’s Emily Chandler in third on Gortfadda Diamond on 36.0 penalties.
On the final day of this 5 star event, there were only 15 to go through to the jumping phase. With only 15 completing the cross country yesterday, none were spun by the vets, and all were allowed to proceed to the next stage. Luhmuhlen is well known for being hot and humid with thunderstorms at some stage during the event, and this year was no exception as early on the last day the heavens opened. As usual, the jumpers went in reverse order of success in the first two phases. Of the top three going into the show jumping, Emily Chandler had two poles down collecting another 8 penalties so she ended up going down the leader board to finish in 6th place. Luc Chateau from France riding Troubadour Camphoux who was in 6th place came up to 4th after a clear round and Michael Jung, again with a clear round ended up from 8th to 5th. Ariel Grald from the USA, who was in 4th place on 39.8 penalties, also had a clear showjumping round riding Leemore Master Plan and the combination moved up one place to 3rd. Finally the two top combinations had to slug it out with less than a fence between them. Mollie Summerford, not known for her show jumping abilities was aware that to win, she would have to leave every fence standing as Christopher Wahler going second last was clear. In a tentative round, Millie left all the fences standing but had 1.2 time penalties. However, she was far enough ahead to keep the lead and win her first 5 star horse trial event, only the second 5 star she had ever competed in. Afterwards, a delighted Mollie said ““I’ve never won a three-day, so that’s the first time the national anthem has ever been played for me and I did cry most of the way through it. I know my mum would have been sobbing at home watching on the TV. It’s one of those things that you dream about, and I’m very lucky that I got to experience that.” It was very sad that her parents and trainer were unable to be with Mollie to enjoy the experience, but the German Covid rules meant that they were unable to be there.
Images Courtesy Tm Berendt.
Footnote to Royal Ascot
Just as a footnote to our articles on Royal Ascot last week, the winning trainer was John and Thady Gosden with 4 winners just ahead of Andrew Balding who also had 4 winners but Gosden had more placed horses to allow him to take the title. The winning jockey was Oisin Murphy with 5 individual winners. As usual a great week’s racing and it was wonderful to see bigger fields than usual and thus more trainers and jockeys getting their first ever Royal Ascot win.
In Sweden, there was another round of The Longines Global Champions Tour. The 34 starters had to negotiate 13 obstacles with 16 jumping effort from Italian designed course. Uliano Vetzeni had two water jumps within the course as well as a double and treble with a time allowed of 79 seconds. Only four riders got clears in the first round to go through for the jump off, and of those four only two jumped clear in the second round. Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia riding Fellow Castlefield was the first in 40.87 seconds. The winner however, was from Great Britain – Brash Scott riding Hello Jefferson in 39.81 seconds. The third placed was Spencer Smith from the USA riding Quibelle with 4 faults in the second round, and with 8 faults from Brazil was Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo on G & C Arayan. The best of the home team was Henrik Von Eckermann riding King Edward.
In St Tropez, France, the Frenchman designed course was again a 16 jumping effort class by course designer Cedric Longis. In this class, there was a field of 38 coming in front of the judges. Twelve of the 38 went clear in the first round and seven of those were also clear in the second. It all came down to time to find the winner who was American rider Kent Farrington riding Gazelle in 41.95 seconds. Just behind him was the best of the home riders, Julien Epaillard riding Usual Suspect d’Auge in 42.30 seconds with fellow Frenchman Nicolas Delmotte coming third. There were a handful of foreigners at this show, but mostly it was the French who dominated.
Sopot in Poland saw the final international 5 star showjumping classes. There was also a round of the Nations Cup at this event. The course designer was Szymon Tarant from Poland, and he set the usual 13 obstacles with 16 jumping effort course over 1.60m. in the Longines Grand Prix.
This time there were 50 participants with ten clear to go through to the jump off. One of the clears decided to withdraw which left nine to compete for the prize money. Seven of those jumped with no faults at all, and although the other two also jumped clean, they collected a time fault each. The winner was Brian Moggre from the USA riding Balou de Reventon in a winning time of 48.09 seconds. He was only just ahead of the second, fellow American Lucy Deslauriers riding Hester only 07 hundredth of a second behind with Niels Bruynseels from Belgium half a second behind Lucy. He was riding Ilusionata Van’t Meulenhof. Despite being in Poland, the class attracted no less than 19 nationalities.
In the Nations Cup, there were teams from ten nations. In the lead at the end of round one was Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Norway, all with no faults to their team’s name. Great Britain and France followed. In the second round, Germany won with a clear sheet with Belgium coming second with just 4 faults. In third equal was Ireland, (one of their team retired before the second round) and so they ended up with 16 faults as two of the remaining three riders had two fences down each. Norway was also third with 16 faults in total. The winning German team were Maurice Tebbel, Marcus Enhing, Christian Kukuk and Andre Thieme.