With Mike Etherington-Smith upping the ante for his second year as course designer at Luhmühlen, we expected cross country day to shake-up the CCI4* leaderboard. After an influential day that saw only 20 of 46 starters (43.4% of the field) jump clear rounds, America tops the leaderboard thanks to Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 storming around to move from eighth up to lead on their dressage score of 27.4.
Five pairs (10.9% of the field) jumped clear rounds inside the optimum time of 11 minutes, 17 seconds, and Boyd was the first to make beat the clock with Shamwari 4, finishing 5 seconds inside with the 16-year-old Hanoverian (Star Regent xx X Donnice, by Der Clou) owned by the Shamwari 4 Syndicate.
Boyd and Shamwari have a history of strong results at this venue, having finished third in 2014 the last time they competed at Luhmühlen. After a cracking round today, the stage is set for them to improve on that result tomorrow.
“He wasn’t done much lately, and he fought the whole way around. I was a little bit rusty in the first couple of minutes, and then we got going in a nice rhythm, and he had plenty in the tank at the end,” Boyd said. “I think he’s the best horse in the world. He hasn’t been at this level in a couple of years, and we’ve been plotting for this event for about six months. We’ve really taken our time preparing him, and he came out and gave me a fantastic round.”
Shamwari last competed at a four-star at Kentucky in 2016, and Boyd said he has strategically saved the horse in the hopes of making a return trip to the World Equestrian Games, where they finished seventh individually to deliver the top American result in 2014.
“He’s an older horse, and I’ve been thinking about the WEG in the back of my mind, so I tried not to run my race too early,” Boyd said. “I picked Luhmühlen because it usually has really good ground and not too many hills — probably the friendliest four-star to hopefully get him ready for the WEG.”
While Luhmühlen has been considered a softer CCI4* in recent years — 77% of starters jumped clear rounds in 2017 — the course certainly didn’t ride soft today.
“To be honest when I walked the course I thought it was a little bit soft when compared to other years when I’ve been here with Capt. Mark Phillips (as the course designer), but it rode very, very difficult, which is credit to the new course designer Mike Etherington-Smith,” Boyd said.
“You really had to work on your time the whole way around. There were lots of corners and narrows. The problems were split throughout the course. I’m very thankful I have a real trier of a horse in Shamwari.”
Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo finished three seconds over the optimum time to add 1.2 penalties, which moved them from sixth after dressage up to second place on a score of 28.3.
“I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. To be up amongst the leaders — you don’t take it for granted. … Fairie Dianimo absolutely loves the cross country, and for all the reasons she gives me a bit of grief on a daily basis, she really comes to the fore on a day like this,” Jonelle said.
“She really demonstrates the athleticism and determination, and she kept galloping to the finish. I was a little bit angry with myself for adding a couple of seconds, but I’m very happy and hopefully have a happy healthy horse in the morning and we can jump a good round.”
Faerie Dianimo, a 13-year-old British-bred mare (Dimaggio X Faerie Dazzler VII, by Catherston Dazzler) Jonelle owns with Trisha Rickards and Jacky Green, are another pair with strong previous form at Luhmühlen, having finished second in 2015 on their dressage score.
Laura Collett piloted four-star first-timer Mr. Bass to an impressive clear round and one of the fastest of the day, finishing 8 seconds inside to move from 18th after dressage up to third on a score of 29.9.
Mr. Bass, a 10-year-old Holsteiner (Carrico X K-Jeunesse, by Exorbitant xx) Laura owns with Nick How and Keith Scott, is well known for his cross country jumping prowess, and he easily skipped around the beefy track today.
“He made it feel like a Pony Club event, which I know I’m very lucky because a four-star shouldn’t feel as easy as he made it. He’s a very special horse to me and I’ve had him since he was a 4 year old,” Laura said.
“I thought walking (the course) it was pretty tough … You got to fence 11, and I just thought, ‘You know you’re at a four-star.’ There is a big difference between three-star and four-star in the intensity, and that’s how it rode. You had to be on your game at every opportunity. I was just lucky that Mr Bass is totally on his A-game. I just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.”
Great Britain took four of the top six spots on the leaderboard after cross country. Willa Newton and Chance Remark, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Actinium X Cuildooish Lady, by Farney Clover) owned by Feenea Machin and Peter Thomas, added 1.2 time penalties to move from 14th up to fourth on 29.9.
Ros Canter and Zenshera, her own 14-year-old KWPN (Guidam X Telvera, by Matterhorn), were originally given 50 penalties for missing a flag, but the penalties were quickly overturned on review. They added 2.8 time penalties to move up one spot on the leaderboard to fifth place on 29.9.
(Mr. Bass, Chance Remark and Zenshera are all on the same score. Mr. Bass wins the tiebreaker because he made the optimum time, and Chance Remark is ahead of Zenshera due to being closer to the optimum time.)
Kitty King and Ceylor LAN delivered an impressive performance in his first CCI since Rio. The 11-year-old KWPN (Veron X Winanda LAN, by Ahorn) owned by Diane Bown, Jacqueline Owen and Samantha Wilson, added 5.6 time penalties to move up two spots on the leaderboard to sixth on 33.0.
Sam Watson and Horseware Ardagh Highlight, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Puissance X Gentle Servant, by Kings Servant) he owns with Belinda Keir, skipped around 6 seconds inside the time to climb from 29th after dressage to seventh on 33.6 as the best Irish pair.
Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Jack of Diamonds X Highland Destiny, by Flagmount King) owned by Frank and Margaret Kinsella, were another pair to initially receive 50 penalties for missing a flag. The ground jury ultimately elected to remove the penalties more than 4 hours after cross country had ended, which moves them up to eighth place on 33.6. (Sam Watson is on the same score and breaks the best-of-the-Irish tie by being closer to the optimum time.)
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z delivered a cracking clear round for the USA in the horse’s CCI4* debut, coming home with 4.4 time penalties to climb from 17th up to ninth place on 34.2. Three cheers for both of our American pairs sitting inside the top 10 after cross country!
“His first CCI2* was just last year, so it’s incredible to have him jump around the way he did. It was a hard track, and it rode tougher than it looked,” Liz said. “There was never a place where you could make time up. You were always doing something out there, and he was just a warrior. He looked for the flags and fought the whole way and made a lot of complexes look easy.”
Liz took all of the direct routes with Deniro Z, a 10-year-old KWPN (Zapatero VDL X Zonne-Trend, by French Buffet xx) owned by the Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties, and she said the course rode nearly exactly to her plan.
“I would have loved to have made the time, and we were on it all the way up until the main arena, but for a first four-star from a 10 year old who is green, he was perfect. He’s come away a happy horse. I think he learned a lot and will come away a stronger horse from the experience. I love him to pieces.”
Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon and Chequers Play the Game, a 14-year-old KWPN (Stravinsky X Mirakel, by Lancer II) owned by Amy and Patricia Lambert, added 10.8 time penalties to move up one spot to 10th on 38.9.
Sweden’s Anna Freskgård and Fly Away vd N.Ranch, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood Quidam’s Rubin X Retina Van de N. Ranch, by Voltaire) she owns with William Fryer, were the fourth pair to jump clear and inside the time, which moved them all the way from 42nd place after dressage to 11th on 39.3.
At the time of publication, final cross country results for the CCI4* have still not been finalized due to multiple instances of 50 penalties being awarded for missed flags. As a result, we are not including a detailed breakdown of the fence analysis. Click here to view the fence-by-fence report on live scoring.
We saw two horse falls today, one of which tragically resulted in an equine fatality. Axel Z, ridden by Chloe Raty of Belgium, was euthanized due to spinal injuries sustained in a rotational fall at fence 18b. While the rail was pinned with a MIM clip, the frangible technology did not deploy. Click here to read the full report. Chloe sustained no major injuries in the fall, and our thoughts are with her and her team during this terribly sad time.
No major injuries have been reported for Jesse Campbell and Cleveland, the other pair who fell on course when the horse stumbled between fences in the second water complex. Click here to view final scores after cross country.
Please note: The results of the top 10 could change pending the outcome of the ground jury’s review of footage for the 50 flag penalties. We will update this report with changes if any are made.