The Little Luhmühlen That Could: Your Guide to the CCI5* Competitors, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products

This Form Guide and EN’s coverage of Luhmühlen is brought to you in part by Kentucky Performance Products. Click here to learn more about Kentucky Performance Products and its wide array of supplements available for your horse.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce,” wrote Willy Shakespeare, probably while working on a 17th century version of a form guide for an event affected by the bubonic plague. It’s perfectly apt for Luhmühlen, too; though the original 70+ strong entry list is down to a petite 24 due to Germany’s ban on UK travellers, it’s still a high-class field that’ll put up one heck of a fight for the top honours this week. Across those 24 combinations, ten nations are represented, and a number of the entrants are Olympians and seasoned team riders. Oh, and did we mention those three five-star winning horses, including the 2018 and 2019 winners of this class?

Gird your bratwurst, dear reader, and let’s meet the Luhmühlen CCI5* class of 2021.

Editor’s note: It was announced on Saturday, 12 June that the local government had changed its mind and decided to grant an exemption for British-based riders to travel to Luhmühlen. Though many of those withdrawn had rerouted to Bicton, there are a small handful of competitors who may be able to make the journey today. We’ll update the form guide with any further entrants as soon as they’re confirmed. 

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois (USA)

Thirteen-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred mare (Satisfaction I x Comtess, by Contender). Owned by the Stella Artois Syndicate.

This will be a second CCI5* for ‘Toddie’, who made her debut at Kentucky earlier this season but ended her week early with an unfortunate horse fall about two-thirds of the way home. Otherwise, this pair have enjoyed some super form, with a win at Rebecca Farm’s CCI4*-L in 2019 and 7th at Tryon CCI4*-L last season.

‘Toddie’ is also a seasoned traveller: after winning the CCI3*-L National Championship at Fair Hill in 2016, she and Jennie were awarded the Connaught Grant by the USET Foundation and used it to travel to Millstreet, Ireland for the CCI4*-L, where they finished fourth. They’ve also made the trip to Boekelo in the Netherlands, where they were part of the US team at the Nations Cup finale in 2019. Though they didn’t complete cross-country, they were able to continue on to showjumping as the event was run under the new Olympic format.

Though Toddie probably won’t eclipse the likely dressage frontrunners on Friday, her marks in this phase are getting better and better: she’s consistently throwing sub-30 scores on the board and posted a 29.6 at Kentucky. Luhmühlen tends to be an easier time question than some of the other five-stars, which could work in her favour — and Sunday’s tough, up-to-height showjumping challenge will give this pair the biggest chance to climb. Their showjumping performances are reliably excellent.

Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Emilie Chandler and Gortfadda Diamond (GREAT BRITAIN)

Twelve-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Water Valley Cool Diamond x Panda, by Glacial Storm). Owned by Maria Doel.

Emilie brings her 2019 Blair Castle CCI4*-L winner Gortfadda Diamond forward for his second five-star after an impressive debut at Pau last year, wherein they scored a 28.6 on the flat and then jumped around with 9.6 time penalties. Unfortunately, they withdrew before the final horse inspection, but there’s much to like about their form over the last couple of years. They were ninth in the CCI4*-S at Aston le Walls last month, finishing on their dressage score of 29.1, and fifth at Burgham CCI4*-S last year, where they added just 0.4 time penalties to their 25.2 score.

Their journey to Luhmühlen has been plagued by travel bans, and they initially opted to reroute to Bicton CCI4*-L last week. After a couple of issues on course, though, Emilie decided to save the horse for another day and, when she heard news of the announcement that British riders could now travel to Luhmühlen, reverted to her original plan. Of course, those uncharacteristic issues last week leave a bit of a question mark hanging over them as they step back up a level, but ordinarily, this horse is a consistent competitor. If they can go sub-30 again this week, they’ll put themselves in a competitive position – but then Emilie will need to put Bicton behind her and ride for the bold, rhythmic round these two are so capable of producing. On the last day, they’ve got a 50/50 chance of producing a clear – and they did so when winning Blair after that tough cross-country course.

Luc Chateau and Troubadour Camphoux. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Luc Chateau and Troubadour Camphoux (FRANCE)

Fourteen-year-old Selle Français gelding (Idem de b’Neville x Gold In Blue, by Veganum). Owned by S.C.E.A. Ecurie d’Albigny.

Luc Chateau must not be confused with the Chateau de Luc, a twelfth-century ruin in Occitanie, nor with the wine and vineyard of the same name in the foothills of Mount Alaric. No, stay on topic — it’s horses and the people who ride them that we’re chatting about now, not refreshing and delicious beverages.

You probably know Luc best for his partnership with Propriano de l’Ebat, the excellent stallion who’s the crown jewel of the family breeding enterprise — not too shabby an undertaking, when you consider that Luc wasn’t born into a horsey family at all. His sophomore five-star run comes, though, with Troubadour Camphoux, originally produced by Spain’s Alexis Gomez and then brought through to CCI4*-L by fellow Frenchman Didier Dhennin. Luc took the reins in early 2018, and though the pair have had some little whoopsies — 20s at Belton and Bramham, plus a broken frangible at Blenheim last year — they’ve also shown some of the sparkle they’ll be able to hone and refine in future.

They made their five-star debut at Pau last year, where the ‘Frenchness’ of the course design worked in their favour — they fly around home courses, which tend to be built on much more open stride patterns than the British courses that have been their downfall so far. They added just 2.4 time penalties across the country and a solitary rail to their 38.9 first-phase score to finish 19th in world-class company. This will be their first FEI run since Pau, and we’ll be looking for Luc to aim for a mid-30s score – and then to stay on it.

(Oh, and if small kiddos on fluffy ponies is your jam, we highly recommend giving him a follow on Instagram.)

Cathal Daniels and LEB Lias Jewel at Blenheim 2019. Photo by William Carey.

Cathal Daniels and LEB Lias Jewel (IRELAND)

Eleven-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Limmerick x LEB Liath, by Colin Diamond). Owned by Jo Breheny.

Cathal is one of just two Irish entries still standing in this year’s competition – though Ireland isn’t subject to the same German travel ban as the UK, that ban does wholly complicate things for riders trying to come over from the Emerald Isle. Rather than crossing the Irish Sea to the UK, driving down to the southern ports and then crossing over to Europe, Irish-based riders need to either take a considerably longer 18-hour ferry direct to Europe or find themselves subject to the same travel regulations as other riders entering Europe from the UK. Complicated, eh?

Still, it’s not hard to see why Cathal might have thought the journey well worth the effort with five-star debutant LEB Lias Jewel – even though it’s meant withdrawing his entries from Bicton. In 20 FEI starts, she’s finished in the top ten 15 times, added time penalties just six times, and knocked only four poles across her career. But she’s only started at CCI4*-L twice, retiring on course in her debut at Millstreet in 2019 but then finishing eighth at Blenheim CCI4*-L just a month later, so she’ll fly somewhat under the radar, particularly with her mid-30s first-phase score – but she couldn’t have a better jockey than Cathal on board for her first five-star cross-country round. Consider this your dark horse one to watch.

David Doel and Carneyhaugh Rua. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

David Doel and Carneyhaugh Rua (GREAT BRITAIN)

Eleven-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Harlequin du Carel x Carneyhaugh Bella, by Cavalier Royale). Owned by Ian and Jane James. 

Originally produced to CCI2*-S by Reserve World Champion Padraig McCarthy, Carneyhaugh Rua made his five-star debut at Pau last year after a string of solid results at four-star. He’s jumped clear around Saumur CCI4*-L and CCI4*-S sections at Ballindenisk, Haras du Pin and Barocca d’Alva, although his trip down to Portugal in early March was his last international run before that first five-star. At Pau, he had an excellent educational first run, jumping a steady clear on Saturday and a faultless round on Sunday to finish in the top thirty. This time, David will hope to bring down that 42 dressage and step on the gas a bit more across the country, now that he knows his horse can handle it. This could be the week for Carneyhaugh Rua to step up from a boy to a man.

David Doel and Dunges Don Perignon (GREAT BRITAIN) 

Eleven-year-old British-bred Sport Horse gelding (Jaguar Mail x Dunges Laurent Rose, by Almushmmir). Owned by Tim and Alice Page.

David’s sole debutant this week is young Dunges Don Perignon, who stepped up to four-star in 2018 at Haras du Pin. He’s produced plenty of clear rounds at the level, finishing seventh at Barroca d’Alva CCI4*-S in 2019 and 12th in his first CCI4*-L at Saumur that spring. This year, we’ve seen him grow in maturity, with quick clears at Aston le Walls and Burnham Market’s CCI4*-S classes; he added 3.2 time penalties in the latter but romped home inside the time at the former. David won’t be intended this as a competitive run, but rather, as a useful building block for this classy horse’s future: his aims will be to go sub-40 in the first phase and establish an economical, confident rhythm around Saturday’s course. On recent form, he could lodge an impressive round, which will give David lots to think about as he plans out the next 12 months. They’re prone to a rail on Sunday, and as a green horse jumping a tough showjumping course after the biggest challenge of his short career, this — or more — is to be expected. Regardless, it’s all a fact-finding mission, and it’ll be great fun to watch this up-and-comer learn lots through the week.

(Oh, and if you’re a bit of a breeding nerd, here’s a fun fact for you: Dunges Don Perignon’s dam, Dunges Laurent Rose, went to CCI5* with Australia’s Clayton Fredericks, finishing ninth at Pau and fifth at Luhmühlen in 2011.)

David Doel and Shannondale Quest (GREAT BRITAIN)

Sixteen-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cascaletto St Ghyvan Z x Shannon Dales Clover, by Clover Hill). Owned by Gillian Jonas.

In a pretty great effort, Britain’s David Doel has managed to get three horses to Luhmühlen, using the Netherlands’ Renswoude Horse Trials as an initial stopover point and then going on to Dutch eventer Jos Houben’s base to wait out the rest of his ten days out of the UK. The eldest horse in his three-pronged attack is Shannondale Quest, who was produced to CCI4*-L by Britain’s Louisa Lockwood before David took the reins in 2017.

Since then, they’ve become a familiar sight in international classes all over the UK and Europe, clocking up top ten finishes in CCI4*-S sections at Barbury and Renswoude in 2019, and the latter in 2018, too. In 2019, Shannondale Quest tackled his first five-star at Burghley — a particularly tough year for a debut — and jumped a stylish but steady clear for 31.2 time penalties. They ultimately finished just outside the top twenty after tipping three poles on Sunday, but the experience will have allowed David the extra intel to refine this big horse’s fitness plan ahead of his second run at this level.

Though their sole international run in 2020 ended early with a tip-up across the country, they ran well and quickly across the country in the CCI4*-S at Aston le Walls last month. This course should suit the gelding well; we’ll be looking for a mid-to-high 30s dressage and then the chance for Shannondale Quest to nail down a swifter run across the country, which should come more easily here than at Burghley. They’ll likely tip a couple of rails, but David is no slouch and it’ll be interesting to see how he’s developed the horse since that first five-star.

Anna Freskgård and Techno (SWEDEN)

Twelve-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Hip Hop x Tatti, by Zwift). Owned by Sophia Ericsson.

Experienced competitor and coach Anna brings Techno forward for his second five-star. He ran at Pau last season, deputising for original entrant Fly Away V.D N.Ranch, and did an exciting two-phase performance, putting a 32.1 on the board and then running a classy clear with 9.2 time penalties, though he was then withdrawn before the final horse inspection.

There’s a lot to like about their form, not least the fact that the horse was one of those child prodigies who managed to win his first-ever international back in just 2016. In his past eight runs, he’s finished in the top twenty in six. They’re fairly swift — and this is a course that’ll allow them a bit more room to play with than Pau — and that’ll help give them a big boost up the leaderboard after their low-to-mid-30s dressage. Showjumping could be a heartbreaker for them, though — they’ll likely pull a rail, and two wouldn’t be a surprise.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan (USA)

Twelve-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp xx x Ardragh Bash, by Cavalier Royale). Owned by Anne Eldridge.

You might remember Ariel Grald as The Great Flag Thief of Kentucky 2019:

Despite this, and as you can see in the video, both horse and rider remained cool, calm, and focused, totally belying the fact that it was their first five-star. In fact, they went on to finish 12th, and looked incredibly impressive in each phase. This came as no surprise to the good folks at US Equestrian, who had named Ariel to their 2019 Developing Potential Training List over the winter. Then, they headed across the pond to tackle one of the toughest Burghleys in recent memory, where they finished tenth and highest-ranked Burghley rookies.

Since then, they’ve notched up top twenty finishes in CCI4*-S classes at Unionville and Great Meadows, as well as in the CCI4*-L at Tryon at the tail end of last season. We haven’t seen them in an FEI event this year, but they won their sole national run of this year in the Advanced at Chattahoochee Hills. Their dressage mark was a very exciting 24.6 – a huge improvement on their usual high-20s to low-30s marks. They should give us another masterclass across the country, but there’s something of a question mark over Sunday – they can go clear, and certainly have done plenty of times, but they could also have a frustrating pole, as they did at both Kentucky and Burghley.

Malin Hotopp-Hansen and Monsieur Schnabel (GERMANY)

Thirteen-year-old Trakehner gelding (Birkhof’s Grafenstolz x Milka, by Heraldik xx). Owned by the rider.

The EN prize for the best horse name of the week goes, without a shadow of a doubt, to the charming Monsieur Schnabel. We challenge you to try to say that without putting on the most ludicrous combination of accents. It simply can’t be done.

This will be a five-star debut for both horse and rider, who stepped up to four-star in 2017 with a number of exciting performances since. They were ninth in a CCI4*-S at Strzegom on their debut, eighth at the same level at Sopot in 2019, and 17th in the German National Championship CCI4*-S at Luhmühlen last year.

Malin represented Germany in the Rural Riders European Championship in 2017, held at the three-star level, and she runs a busy teaching business with a focus on young riders – a passion developed from her early experiences jumping home-made cross-country courses built by her father Klaus, himself a former event rider. She’s built up a great relationship with her top horse, and could certainly impress this week: their scores fluctuate between the high 20s and low-to-mid 30s, and will likely err on the latter end in this tougher test, and they can be reasonably quick across the country, though may opt to take a couple of long routes. They reliably drop a pole in the final phase, and that’s one of the biggest challenges at Luhmühlen – but they have all the right stuff to enjoy a great, educational debut at this level at their home five-star.

Germany’s Michael Jung with Fischerwild Wave at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Michael Jung and fischerWild Wave (GERMANY)

Nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Water Dance xx x Uquina, by Acobat 2). Owned by Klaus and Sabine Fischer, Brigitte, Joachim, and Philip Jung and the rider.

fischerWho? fischerFifteen top tens in 22 international runs, that’s who. You might not have spotted Magic Mike’s exciting young five-star debutant yet, but we expect he might give you a reason to remember the name, Fort Minor style, this week. The gelding is already making waves — eh? Eh? — in Germany: he’s been named to the German Olympic longlist alongside Michael’s top horse fischerChipmunk FRH. Though Chipmunk will be Michael’s top choice for the Games, this could well be his Europeans mount later in the summer.

It’s a bit of a treat anyway to see Michi in the five-star here, as most of the Germans tend to run the four-star — as he is on Chipmunk, to the great chagrin of everyone who has to compete against him. But Wild Wave is ready to tackle the big stuff: he was second in the CCI4*-S at Baborowko last month (to Chipmunk, for what it’s worth), sixth in the CCI4*-L at Pratoni at the tail end of last year, and fourth in his CCI4*-S debut at Avenches last season. He does have a couple of technical eliminations on his record — Michi missed a fence at Marbach and was technically eliminated at Strzegom, where he’d also picked up a 20. But that was then, this is now, and it’s hard to imagine the horse having any major issues around this track. Expect a high 20s dressage, a swift clear — assuming he doesn’t opt for an educational long routes — and a possible rail on Sunday, though he tends to jump well on the final day. This could sneak into the top ten.

Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui (NEW ZEALAND)

Thirteen-year-old New Zealand Sport Horse (by Littorio; dam unknown). Owned by Christine Quigley and the rider.

Samantha – nee Felton – is one of the new wave of Kiwi talent in the UK, and like fellow expat (and bridesmaid) Ginny Thompson, she based herself at the former yard of Blyth Tait with her husband, indoor football player Brayden, and a handful of her former string of horses. Like Ginny she, too, had to sell the rest to make the move, but with one eye on Tokyo, it was an inevitability.

Samantha is one of two riders to benefit from the exemption granted on Saturday for UK-based travellers to go to Luhmühlen, and she packed her bags and withdrew from Bicton’s CCI4*-S with this horse to make the long trip. There, they’d posted a 31.4 and tipped three rails, which is on the high end for them. Ordinarily, we can expect one or two to fall, and at the horse’s CCI5* debut at Burghley in 2019, it was just the one. They picked up a 20 across the country on that occasion, but this is a very different track to the long, galloping test of Burghley – here, the ability to shift gears easily and make up time while navigating twisty tracks through the woods is key. This duo scarcely ever left the top ten while competing at home in New Zealand, and are looking as though they’re on the cusp of really finding their groove on the European circuit – a 12th place finish in a huge CCI4*-S class at Aston le Walls is an exciting snippet of what could be to come. Sam is no slouch, and she knows that a good result here could secure her a plane ride to Tokyo – so keep an eye on her in the CCI4*-S, too, with Ricker Ridge Sooty.

Maxime Livio and Vegas des Boursons (FRANCE)

Eleven-year-old Selle Français gelding (Allegreto x Clio des Boursons, by Tin Soldier). Owned by SC Soixante Seize et Compagnie, Camille Letourneaux and the rider. 

Maxime’s five-star debutant is relatively inexperienced, though his CCI4*-L form is exciting: he’s competed twice at the level and finished in the top ten on both occasions. His debut was at Bramham, where he finished tenth with just 3.6 time penalties across the country, followed up by third at Strzegom with four time penalties. Oh, and did we mention he only stepped up to four-star in 2019, after running just once — in a CCI2*-S, no less — in 2018?

It’s easy to see how Vegas could go on to be Maxime’s next big star, but his 2020 season was a bit underwhelming; he didn’t run cross-country at Jardy in July and then went on to Haras du Pin in August, where he delivered a personal best at the level in dressage, a clear across the country with six time… and knocked five rails in showjumping. Then he was aimed at a five-star debut at Pau, but didn’t start. Maxime, whose own record includes top-ten finishes at Luhmühlen, Kentucky and, over and over again, at Pau, will be looking to educate his young horse for future world domination – and in this small field, he could end up vying for an exciting result.

Clara Loiseau and Ultramaille. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Clara Loiseau and Ultramaille (FRANCE)

Thirteen-year-old Selle Français mare (Maille Pistol x La Lorelai). Owned by Isabelle Peters.

Clara made her five-star debut at Pau in 2018 aboard the exciting Thoroughbred Wont Wait, and in doing so, strode straight into the international spotlight. They added just a solitary rail to their 31.7 dressage, finishing third and demonstrating the serious strength in depth that the French federation boasts — and adding Ultramaille to her top-level string gave her another great boost.

Ultramaille produced a very good 30.9 in the CCI4*-L at Boekelo in 2018, but her scores tend to sit more in the mid-to-high 30s bracket. She made her five-star debut here the following year, finishing fifteenth after scoring a 36.5 and adding 8.8 time penalties across the country and a rail and 1.2 time in the final phase. A rider fall followed at Haras du Pin CCI4*-S later that summer, but clear rounds at Jardy and Avenches followed the next summer. They haven’t run internationally this year, but the goal now will likely be to solidify that form and push for a quicker finish across the country. A couple of poles will preclude a truly competitive placing, but this could be the moment for Ultramaille to step up from second string to serious contender.

Clara Loiseau and Wont Wait. Photo Tilly Berendt.

Clara Loiseau and Wont Wait (FRANCE)

Seventeen-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Starborough xx x Impatience xx). Owned by the rider.

Pau 2018 was a seriously happy hunting ground for French young guns, and Clara and her beloved gelding were right up there with the very best of them. They finished third, delivering one of only four double-clears on Saturday – in the end, a solitary rail kept them from finishing on their dressage score at their debut five-star.

Clara is a stylish, positive, very French sort of rider, and a perfect match for her elegant Thoroughbred, who cruises down to forward distances seamlessly. They’ve never had more than 13.6 time penalties at the four-star level and above, and in fact, they finished a stonking 22 seconds inside the time at Pau. They added 13.6 time penalties when delivering a classy clear at Badminton in 2019, though they ran into trouble at Burghley the same year and retired after some problems on course. Last year, we saw them clock up penalties and a subsequent retirement at Haras du Pin CCI4*-S, but there final run of the year at Avenches was a confident clear inside the time.

Clara and Wont Wait were one of our standout pairs at Pau, but the course was made for them – it rewarded the forward riding they find so natural. Luhmühlen is a different kind of course, but should be well within their wheelhouse – though they’ll have to work hard over Sunday’s big showjumping course, as this is something of a weak phase for them. We’ll be expecting a mid-to-high 30s score — though they’ve proven at four-star that they can dip down to the low 30s — a quick, gutsy clear round, and then one or two rails that could prove expensive in this small but classy field.

Philippa Magnusson and Cesar (SWEDEN)

Eleven-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Crelido x Coco Chanell TH, by San Quintero). Owned by the rider.

Philippa, who works as an elite sporting member of the Swedish Armed Forces, made her championship debut at the Europeans here in 2019 with Cesar, riding as an individual. Though they picked up a 20 around the tough track, they’ll certainly have learned plenty in the process – a point that’s been in the six international runs they’ve had since, which have all been clear across the country. One of those was a fifth place finish in the CCI4*-L at Barroca d’Alva.

They won’t threaten the obvious frontrunners here, but that’s rarely the goal in a first five-star for both horse and rider. They’ll likely post a high-30s score and will then focus their full attention on Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course, armed with the knowledge they picked up at that Championships – and though they can be a reasonably quick combination, we’ll expect them to favour accuracy and confidence-building over blind speed. Showjumping is a tricky phase for them, and they’ll likely topple a couple of rails – but for Philippa, who runs two young horses alongside Cesar, her first-ever FEI mount, it’ll all be great further education for the future.

Nadine Marzahl and Valentine. Photo by M&R Photo courtesy of Baborówko Horse Sale Show.

Nadine Marzahl and Valentine FRH (GERMANY)

Fourteen-year-old Hanoverian mare (Valentino x Vienna, by Varus). Owned by Heike Kikuth. 

It’s a happy homecoming for Nadine, who started her professional career based at Luhmühlen after a successful Junior and Young Rider career, which saw her win team gold at the 2002 Young Rider European Championships. Though she gained upper-level experience with her string of horses prior to Valentine, it’s this former Vice Bundeschampionat-winning mare who has been her most high-profile partner: together, they made their debut Senior Championship here in 2019 and flew around the track in fine style, but were sadly technically eliminated for missing a fence.

Still, a technical elimination isn’t a sign of bad form, and Nadine swiftly proved her point by winning their next two outings, in a CCI4*-S at Baborowko and, the following year, a CCI3*-S at Westerstede. In the seven internationals they’ve run since those wins, they’ve finished in the top twenty six times and haven’t had a cross-country jumping penalty in 15 consecutive internationals.

Their last run saw them post a 35.2 in last CCI4*-S, at Baborowko, but they’re more likely to sit around the 30 mark or just below it. Then, they’re likely to go quick and clear across the country at this familiar venue – although it’s a first-time five-star for both, so Nadine could opt for some slower, educational long routes. Their real time shine comes on Sunday: this is a seriously good showjumping combination, and Luhmühlen’s course always breaks a few hearts.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo (NEW ZEALAND)

Sixteen-year-old British-Bred Sport Horse (Dimaggio x Faerie Dazzler, by Catherston Dazzler). Owned by Jacky Green, Trisha Rickards, and the rider.

Jonelle returns with a fierce entry this year: 2018 Luhmühlen winner Faerie Dianimo, the ultimate pas de deux partner with Tim’s Ascona M. Well, she would be, but we expect that this spicy little mare doesn’t want any other horses in her space, muscling in on her thunder.

Here’s how Jacky Green describes the vivacious mare:

Homebred by Trisha Rickards, Maggie May is the princess of the yard. She is small, feisty, funny and has scope which belies her tiny frame. Her supermodel status means she does have food issues and she despairs at her friend Classic Moet’s attitude to eating which is to pig out at any opportunity.  Maggie May’s one weakness is that she gets bullied in the paddock by nearly everything which is probably due to the abuse she doles out to them on the arena.  Like Marilyn Monroe she is at her best in front of a crowd and despises doing dressage on grass in a 20 by 40 at a one day with no cameras in attendance.

Though Maggie May – a maternal half-brother of Tim’s horse Xavier Faer, who was second at Kentucky this spring — is an extravagant, powerful mover and very capable of a competitive first-phase result, but her marks tend to fluctuate and she can tip into the low-30s. She put a surprising 36.9 on the board at Pau last year, where she didn’t run cross-country, and earned a 28.4 at Burghley in 2019, where Jonelle opted to pull her up after activating a frangible pin. In 2018, when she won Luhmühlen, she started with a 27.1 and added just 1.2 time penalties to that score over the weekend. If she can get that kind of mark again, you can expect this plucky mare and her extraordinarily experienced rider to stay on it – they have four five-star top ten finishes and a top twenty at the Rio Olympics under their belt, and this mare hasn’t had a rail in an FEI event since 2018, owing in part to the Prices’ annual winter exodus to showjump in Spain.

2019 CCI5* victors Tim Price and Ascona M at Luhmühlen. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Tim Price and Ascona M (NEW ZEALAND)

Thirteen-year-old Holsteiner mare (Cassaro Z x Naomi IV). Owned by Suzanne Houchin, Sir Peter Vela, and Ben and Lucy Sangster.

She’s extremely talented but sometimes, she’s also just extreme – and that’s per Tim himself, who is the reigning champion here with the extravagant and opinionated ‘Ava.’ If she was a human, she’d be Maggie Thatcher — “although she wasn’t very beautiful, was she?” muses Tim, “so perhaps she’d be Helen Mirren or whats-her-name from The X-Files instead.”

Though you can occasionally spot her throwing down some serious shapes in the dressage warm-up, she’s an exceptional performer in the ring and will vie for the lead on dressage day: though we’ll be expecting a score around 25, like her 25.8 here in 2019, her preparatory test at Millstreet CCI4*-S two weeks ago saw her put a 20.1 on the board and Tim tells us she’s been incredibly professional in her work over the last few weeks. This could be her moment to put out a personal best and make herself even more formidable to her competitors.

She’s not always the fastest mare – she clocked up 16.4 time penalties at Pau last year, where she finished 6th – but she only added 2 time penalties at Luhmühlen, which tends to have an easier time than twisty, tight Pau. Her final phase performances err towards a pole, though she’s jumped clear on the final day in both her five-stars.

Ava used to be one of Jonelle’s rides, but she opted to let Tim take the reins while she was busy brewing up baby Otis back in 2017. Some serious negotiation obviously ensued because Jonelle, who had been very firm about the fact that her horses would all go back to her, relented and let Tim keep the ride on this serious talent. Now, the two matching grey mares go head to head for the title – don’t take your eyes off either of them.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy (NEW ZEALAND)

Eighteen-year-old gelding (Courage II x Sky Lassie, by Sky Boy). Owned by Verenna Allen and the rider.

The Prices’ horses aren’t short of talent – nor are they short of character, and ‘Ozzie’ is certainly one of the sport’s biggest personalities. The 2018 Burghley winner was never bought to be a superstar — instead, he was picked up on the cheap as a rogue young horse with a penchant for bolting. The plan was to put some miles on him and resell him, but Tim couldn’t persuade anyone to buy him – though we’re sure he’s not rueing that these days. This will be an extraordinary sixteenth CCI5* for the gelding, and he’s finished in the top ten seven times at the level.

He’s had his odd spots of bad luck, too. At the Olympics in 2016, he slipped and fell on the flat on cross-country day, and at Burghley in 2019 he did the same in the final water. Still, blips like that are easy to overlook, because they’re not really down to form – and Ozzie will certainly put up a strong fight for a win at Luhmühlen in what will likely be his final year at the top level. Expect to see a dressage score between 25 and 28, and a masterclass across the country. He’s not always one of the fastest horses, but Luhmühlen’s course tends to be less of a time question than the other five-stars. The final day could prove influential: he tends towards a rail on the final day at five-star, but has been known to topple more than that.

Anyway, we’ll shut up now and give you what you’re actually here for…the infamous Jacky Green bio.

Oz or Ozzie is without doubt one of the favourites on the yard despite his quirky personality. His relationship with Tim is legendary and when he rocked up to Rio Olympics bearing a team flag there was not a dry eye in the house.  He hates to be alone ( even when he is not alone he sometimes worries that he may be on his own) and he is best buddies with Wesko which shows his generous personality as he has often played second fiddle to him.  He is built like a long distance runner which is pretty appropriate as his youth saw him ‘bolt’ on many an occasion! Ozzie is like a fine wine that just gets better with age….

Kenki Sato and Shanaclough Contadora. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Kenki Sato and Shanaclough Contadora (JAPAN)

Eleven-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Contador x Shanaclough Diamond Queen). Owned by Shodo Sato.

If you’re a keen follower of #JapanWatch (and if not, you probably ought to be), you’ll be as excited as we are to see Kenki Sato back on the main stage. Kenki competed at the London 2012 Olympics, taking a short leave of absence from his normal life to take part. That normal life? Training to be a Buddhist priest at the Myōshō-ji temple in the mountain village of Ogawa. His father, Shodo, is the master of the temple, and was an accomplished equestrian himself, just missing out on an Olympic appearance because of the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Shanaclough Contadora made the step up to CCI5* here in 2019, though she didn’t complete – Kenki opted to retire her after picking up a 20 on course. Since then, they’ve picked up plenty more experience with 15 further international runs, including a ninth place finish at the Tokyo test event that same summer and top ten finishes in four-stars at Barroca d’Alva, Strzegom, Pratoni, and Haras du Pin.

Shanaclough Contadora’s first-phase performances can fluctuate between the high 20s and mid-to-high 30s; we saw her post a 32.4 here in 2019, and she could easily go better with her extra experience now. She’s had fourteen consecutive international clears, so will be aiming for a tidy completion this time – but her usually excellent showjumping record has recently been slightly marred by three one- or two-pole rounds in a row.

Michael Ryan and Barnahown Corn Hill (IRELAND)

Ten-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Chinook Eclipse xx x Mats Lady). Owned by Carol and Tom Henry.

Experienced Irish stalwart Michael is one of just two Irish riders still in the hunt for Luhmühlen glory, but even a 19-hour ferry and a bit of extra admin isn’t putting him off – such is his faith in this exciting young horse. Since stepping up to four-star in 2019, he’s had two top ten finishes at long format — at Barroca d’Alva and Ballindenisk — and one at short format, again at Ballindenisk. Though he won’t come here to try to fight for the win, he could well be looking at notching up the requisite experience and result to think about an appearance at this autumn’s European Championships. We’ll be expecting a mid-to-high 30s dressage mark, a steady cross-country run, and a rail on Sunday — though he’s jumped clear once at CCI4*-L on the final day, he’s also had three rails on another occasion. An early technical elimination in his final prep run at Millstreet CCI4*-S does leave a question mark hanging over this pair, but likely isn’t indicative of form.

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Mollie Summerland and Charly van ter Heiden (GREAT BRITAIN)

Twelve-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendros Bube x Espanja, by Escudo II). Owned by the rider.

23-year-old Mollie and her self-produced 12-year-old gelding head to their second five-star, having made their debut at Pau a roaringly successful one with a tenth place finish. Mollie bought Charly when she was a teenager: she’d looked at over 200 young horses on various European dealers’ yards before she spotted the striking gelding almost entirely by chance in a crowded stable. When you know, you know, and she certainly did – and in the last few seasons, this exciting pair have proven themselves a force to be reckoned with against the stiffest of competition. They’ve notched up 17 top-ten finishes in 27 competitions, most recently finishing eighth and best of the British team in the CCIO4*-S Nations Cup at Houghton, despite a highly uncharacteristic 32.4. We can chalk that up to a bit of bad luck: Mollie found herself with just ten minutes to warm up for dressage, and Charly’s a horse who likes to spend the better part of twenty minutes just stretching in the walk before he even thinks about the proper stuff.

In fact, the first phase is this pair’s piece de resistance: Mollie is one of those rare eventers who’d be just as happy doing pure dressage, and she trains with top riders Olivia Oakeley and Carl Hester to refine her performances as much as possible, and Carl has often said that the horse could make the discipline swap with ease, too. They put a 25.5 on the board at Pau to lead through much of the first day of competition, and they’ve dipped down to 23.8 at Barbury in 2019, where they finished second to Andrew Nicholson. Expect them to be near — or at — the top of the leaderboard after this phase. They came home inside the time at Pau with some gritty, determined riding, and with that experience under their belts they’ll aim to do the same again – Charly’s bold, quick and clever, and this duo trust one another wholeheartedly. Their only weaker phase tends to be showjumping, where they’re prone to a rail or two — but help from showjumping coach Jay Halim has refined their performances and given them a new, tailor-made warm-up regime, which she’s put to the test over 1.30m tracks in the Netherlands.

You can also follow Mollie and Charly’s adventures abroad via EN – check out the tour diaries here.

Aistis Vitkauskas and Commander VG. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Aistis Vitkauskas and Commander VG (LITHUANIA)

Ten-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Viegaard’s Come Back II x Nione Fortuna, by Abantos NRA STB 83 4). Owned by Mr and Mrs Kloeve-Mogensen and the rider. 

It’s a second five-star since 2013 for Aistis, who contested the level several times with former top for Ak’s Galopper. This horse, who jumped clear around the Seven-Year-Old World Championship at Le Lion d’Angers just three years ago, made his five-star debut at Pau last season, where he produced a confident, quick clear across the country with just 2.8 time penalties.

Unfortunately, it was the showjumping that was to be his downfall, and like Pau, Luhmühlen makes the most of its capacious arena to deliver one of the sport’s toughest showjumping challenges. Commander VG is ordinarily a two to four rail horse, but at Pau, he took nine poles. Hopefully, both horse and rider will have learned a huge amount from the experience and they’ll come to Luhmühlen fitter, stronger, and prepared to fight for all three phases.

Though the horse isn’t likely to be competitive — his low-40s dressage will preclude a big climb in this company, no matter how well he does in the other phases — this will be a great learning experience for him and a welcome return to the level for Lithuania’s top rider, who has represented his country at three European Championships. This pair are reasonably quick and consistent across the country, picking up a top ten finish in a CCI4*-L at Sopot in 2019 and finishing 14th in exceptionally strong company — and over a course that saw big names such as SAP Hale Bob make mistakes — at Luhmühlen CCI4*-S last year. Another strong performance here will be a great rung on the ladder for both horse and rider, and will help their cause of furthering Lithuania’s admittedly almost nonexistent place on the global eventing map, too.

Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S take top honours in Houghton’s CCIO4*-S class in 2019. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S (GERMANY)

Twelve-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clearway x Kajenna, by Galant Vert). Owned by the rider. 

Christoph has been quietly making a name for himself as one of Team Germany’s next string of superstars, winning the Nations Cup team and individual competition at Houghton International with Carjatan S in 2019, and following this up with a super top-twenty performance at the European Championships. Their 2020 was very exciting, too: they’ve notched up three top-ten finishes at Luhmühlen, Strzegom, and Arville, and although their trip to the German National Championships was thwarted by an uncharacteristic drive-by at a tough and influential line, there was plenty to be excited about. Their 22.4 was a personal best at the level and their showjumping round was typically classy, as was the rest of their cross-country round.

Christoph has worked hard to overcome some minor blips in the horse’s early education at the level, which saw them take a swim in CCI4*-S sections at Chatsworth and Luhmühlen in 2019. Since then, the young horse has visibly grown in confidence, and Christoph — whose family stud specialises in producing dressage horses — has continued to hone the other two phases, too. This pair are well on their way to being seriously formidable on the world stage, and so their CCI5* debut at Pau last year was one that was particularly hotly anticipated. They made great strides in this first phase, putting a highly competitive 25.6 on the board, but Christoph opted to withdraw before the cross-country as he didn’t feel that the horse was quite right. Since then, they’ve come back strong with a tenth-place finish in the CCI4*-S at Marbach, though the 38.9 they earned in a tune-up CCI3*-S at Strzegom is something of an eyebrow-raiser.

There’s another good reason to tune in, too, of course — and it would be remiss of us as the most determined flirts that ever made the equestrian media industry ridiculous not to give credit where credit is due here. Every event needs a bit of eye-candy — look, we all need a little something to get us through two days of dressage — and Christoph is certainly one of the poster boys of Luhmühlen this year. We’ve not even minded seeing him get a good dunking in the past, though we’re sure he probably feels differently. Lest we be accused of cursing them, we hasten to add that he works a podium well, too.

Jordy Wilken and Burry Spirit. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Jordy Wilken and Burry Spirit (THE NETHERLANDS)

Fifteen-year-old KWPN gelding (Casco 4 x Retina H.H., by VDL Indoctro). Owned by the rider.

It’s a five-star debut for 27-year-old Jordy, who’s a hugely popular figure in Dutch eventing with his active YouTube and social media presence, as well as the By Jordy Academy, his busy teaching programme for aspiring eventers. He’s the current reserve Dutch national champion, a title he earned at Boekelo in 2019, and he’s represented the Netherlands on Nations Cup teams.

Though Jordy and Burry’s high-30s dressage will put them near the bottom of the pack on Friday, they’ve become a reliable pair across the country and have clocked up 10 consecutive FEI clear rounds in this phase. They’re generally quick, too. Their showjumping performances, on the other hand, can fluctuate: they’ve had two clears in a row at CCI4*-S, but they tend to topple a couple of poles in long formats. After the biggest test of their partnership so far on Saturday, we’ll expect to see this again on Sunday – but making the step up to this level will be an incredible moment for hard-working and much-loved Jordy and his legions of fans and friends.

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