German riders made their mark in both the CCI**** and CIC*** at Luhmühlen this weekend, an indicator of their strength ahead of the Olympic Games with Sandra Auffath and Andreas Dibowski taking victory.
In the CCI****, Julia Krajewski took an early lead after a fantastic dressage test with Samouri du Thot on the second day, in what is their first event at this level. Scoring 39.0 she relegated Belgium Julien Despontin with Waldano (40.2) into second, having lead after the first day, and Australia’s Emma Dougall with Belcam Bear (40.6) into third place.
She said of her test: “I had planned to ride my test in lovely sunshine, instead we got rained on. Sam was brilliant though, in fact, I think the rain worked to our advantage, as he lifted his feet that little bit higher, making his trot work very strong. He was totally at ease with the atmosphere in front of the grandstand, which is why we were able to produce the test we did.”
It was all change at the top of the leader board after the cross country. Andreas Dibowski moved into the lead after a phenomenal round on the cross-country. Finishing just one second over the optimum time he finished on a score of 43.8 with Its Me XX. He moved to the head of the field after overnight dressage leader Julia Krajewski dropped to fifth after picking up ten time penalties with Samouri du Thot.
Afterwards Andrea’s said: “Itsy is a small horse with a huge heart and he was amazing. The course by Captain Mark Phillips was extremely well built with lots of options for riders and horses. We had perfect conditions with the ground being exceptional. We couldn’t have asked for more. But for us it really started yesterday, when we were riding dressage in the pouring rain. Itsy did the dressage test of his life setting us up for a good score today. We only had a minor insecurity at the third water complex, but that was all and we carried on to finish almost inside the optimum time.”
France’s Maxime Livio and Qalao des Mers finished the day less than a penalty behind with New Zealander Tim Price – the 2014 winner – third on Ringwood Sky Boy.
Maxine was extremely proud after his round commenting: “He was great. He is a very bold and generous horse, always giving 100%. Because there are plenty of French riders fighting for places on the team in Rio, and we didn’t have all the qualifications needed just yet, I decided to take the risk and go for it. We took all the straight routes and he was incredible. Only once he asked me for a little breather but then took off again. Because he is a bold jumper, you need to be prepared for some pretty big jumps. Even taking a big stride into the water will not throw him off balance as he picks up again immediately, ready for the next jump to come.”
Tim added: “It was a fast paced track, yet it was a real challenge to make the time. Ringwood Sky Boy answered all the questions superbly, and after our fall at Badminton we needed a positive round. For me it was important to find a good rhythm and then to keep up the pace. He was definitely fit enough. Although Ringwood Sky Boy wouldn’t be my first choice for Rio, I think he proved himself today and he might well be a contender.”
Oliver Townend finished the cross country as the best British rider, in fourth with Black Tie. The pairing had a faultless round to move them up the order from 11th after the dressage. Louise Harwood and Whitson also had a clear round but picked up eight time faults to finish in 14th. However, cross country caused a few issues for other riders. Louise Harwood had a refusal with Mr Potts (Fence 18c), Kirtsy Short was given 20 penalties at fence 11 and Sarah Bullimore had a refusal with Reve Du Rouet (Fence 15a). Oliver Townend retired his second ride, Dromgurrihy Blue after a refusal at 19.
There was drama at the final horse inspection with two horses from the top ten being withdrawn, including Black Tie who was not presented by Oliver Townend. The other horse withdrawn before being presented to the ground jury was Emma Dougall and Belcam Bear who had been in seventh position.
The show jumping caused a number of issues leading to changes in the final placings. However, Andreas Dibowski kept his cool to jump clear and take victory.
An over the moon Andreas commented: “My team and I never thought this was possible. Itsy has been with us since he was four and it has been a real roller coaster ride ever since. He started out very promising as a youngster, but was then out due to injuries as a five and six year old. Since then we have been slowly building him up, however somewhat struggling with keeping on his shoes. Last year he really started to establish himself at three-star-level and this year he was constantly improving in all three disciplines. Here, he really presented himself at a whole new level! On Friday he did the test of his life in the pouring rain, flying round the cross-country on Saturday and totally rocking the show jumping today. He hasn’t got the biggest jump in him, yet he doesn’t seem to realise this. He was confident throughout every phase of this competition and we are massively proud of this tiny horse. Of course I was nervous before today’s show jumping, the pressure was on because we were all so close together, there was no room for errors and I knew the other horses would be very strong. However, Itsy seemed to grow in confidence in front of the crowd and he produced a fantastic round for me.”
Second placed Maxime Livio was equally full of praise for his horse: “I knew if I was doing everything right, we would have every chance at staying clear today. My horse is very bold and careful, and unless I mess up, he will do his best every time. This is actually only our second four-star-event; coming second twice is pretty amazing.”
Dressage leader Julia Krajewski and Samurai du Thot, finished the competition in third, saying of the horse: “He is simply amazing and I can’t stop smiling. I am so happy with how things went for us: he just got better and better. His dressage test was strong, but his cross-country was out of this world. He was confident and seemed to get better with every jump. In this morning’s vet inspection, he moved like we had been on a hack and not round a four-star-cross-country-course yesterday. The show jumping seemed so effortless for my little fighter, Sam really left me speechless with his performance.”
The highest placed British rider after the show jumping was Louise Harwood and Whitson who finished on a score of 57.0.
After an amazing performance from start to finish, Sandra Auffarth won not only the CIC*** Meßmer Trophy but also the German Championship title.
Australia’s Andrew Hoy took an early lead in the CIC*** Meßmer Trophy with Cheeky Calimbo, only to be topped by Germany’s Sandra Auffarth, who went on to lead from start to finish.
Hoy, who scored 35.3, was full of praise for his horse saying: “He did a wonderful job. We have a very special bond which allows me to bring out the best in him. His canter work is exceptional, and his presence makes him truly unique. He is just a fabulous ride and I am very happy with today’s performance.”
Riding Opgun Louvo, Auffarth was rewarded for her strong performance with a score of 32.7. She commented: “He was exceptional. He was concentrating throughout the test, working with me all the way. I think he feels at ease here in Luhmühlen and he enjoyed the test as much as I did.”
Horseware Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke’s rounded out the top three in the dressage with a score of 36.6. Ingrid said: “He was unbelievable! Especially his trot work was fantastic. He was very expressive and I was able to really go for it – he gave me all I asked of him. The whole test was so enjoyable.”
Auffarth held on to her lead with a faultless performance on the cross country with Opgun Louvo to remain on their dressage score. Ingrid Klimke moved up to second place with Horseware Hale Bob OLD after Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo picked up 20 penalties at fence 9d. Belgium’s Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’t Verahof moved into third.
The German was elated with her round – only two riders stayed without the optimum time, the other being compatriot Klimke – commenting: “Wolle really went for it. He was always looking ahead to the next jump, answering every question asked with ease. It was a very fluent and confident round, but then he is a very experienced horse and he really knows what he is doing.”
Klimke Maxime Livio’s performance with Horseware Hale Bob OLD, who is now her preferred horse for the Olympic Games, was equally as good. She commented: “Bobby galloped round the course with so much ease, he hardly had a hair out of place! His ears were pricked all the way; he was confident and forward throughout. He is very fit and we were always a little bit ahead of the time. I just let him choose his own pace.”
Donckers was very happy with Fletcha van’t Verahof‘s round saying: “He is a fabulous horse and he is very fit. I have had him since he was five, so I built him up all the way. He listened to me very well throughout our round and I rode exactly as I had planned after walking the course. This event was just the right preparation ahead of Rio. We had a positive and confident round, which felt just great.”
The show jumping course proved to be a challenge for many, mixing up the placings quite considerably. However, the final three competitors kept their nerve and stayed clear inside the time with allowing the current world champion to take the win.
Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob OLD also remained on their dressage score of 36.6 penalties to take second, whilst Dutch rider Tim Lips and Bayro N.O.P. finished third with 43.50.
Afterwards Auffarth commented: “We had a wonderful weekend with perfect conditions. The entire organisation could not have been better and I would like to thank Julia Otto and her team for making this event so special! Wolle was amazing all week – his dressage was very expressive and he was very motivated going round the cross-country. Today he was concentrated and really fit, making my job very easy.”
Tim Lips taking third place, only added 4.40 time penalties from his cross-country round to his dressage score of 39.10. He commented: “My horse is a brilliant jumper, he is bold and careful. We had a great cross-country round; Bayro was simply amazing. There is a little room for improvement in our dressage, but there is time yet until Rio. For me the most important thing was to have a positive experience here as Bayro is my first choice for the Olympics.”