CCI4* Dressage Day One
The Belgian rider Julien Despontin takes the lead at the conclusion of Luhmühlen’s first day of dressage, scoring 40.20 penalties on his chestnut Hanoverian, Waldano 36. In second and third are Australians Emma Dougall (-40.60) and William Levett (-45.50). Claas Hermann Romeike on Cato 60 is fourth on 46 with New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson in fifth position on a score of 46.3.
Julien Despontin led the class last year after the dressage phase on an even better score of 31.9, but time faults on the cross-country and two show jumping rails dropped him out of contention and he eventually finished 20th.
This year he had this to say about his horse’s performance: “He was a little tense at first, which is why I rode the canter section of the test a little more carefully than I would have liked. However, the trot and walk were much improved compared to last year’s test, and the extended trot was very strong. Waldano is a great horse with a big personality.” Julien, who trained with Jürgen Koschel a few years back says, he is particularly proud because he and Waldano started their international career together, when he took over the gelding from Andreas Ostholt many years ago: “We have come a long way. When I first had Waldano, we were both still a little green and we have grown in this sport as a team.”
For Emma Dougall’s ride, Belcam Bear, it is the first attempt at four-star level: “There were a few minor insecurities in our test today. But he is a real sweetheart and a saint. Even though the rein-back and a couple of the flying changes weren’t perfect, he was focused on his job throughout. Now I am looking forward to Saturday, as he is a brilliant, straight and bold cross-country horse.”
First impressions of the CCI4* cross-country course:
Tim Price: “It’s a good course but stronger and more demanding than last year. It puts pressure on the rider – you really need to know your lines and speed in the combinations. The time seems a little tight.”
Julien Despontin: “This year’s cross-country course is asking a variety of questions and I feel you need to be focused all the way. The jumps have been beautifully built and the ground is exceptional. This course is strong and tough but everything looks fair. If Waldano and I get round and past the Meßmer water complex, we should be able to finish on a decent score.”
CIC*** Meßmer Trophy
Australia’s Andrew Hoy takes the lead with a strong and expressive performance on Cheeky Calimbo with -35.30 penalties, ahead of Stephanie Böhe (Germany) on Haytom (-41.70) and Karin Donckers (Belgium) with Lamicell Unique (-45.30). One of the judges is New Zealander, Andrew Bennie.
Andrew Hoy was full of praise for Cheeky Calimbo: “He did a wonderful job today! 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.”
Stephanie Böhe, who is in second place after today’s CIC*** dressage, is over the moon with her gelding’s test: “Haytom behaved impeccably and didn’t put a foot wrong, I am super-proud. It’s our first time here in Luhmühlen – the arena and the atmosphere are amazing. All the work with Hans-Heinrich Meyer zu Strohen has really paid off today. Haytom was bred here by Tine Dietrich and he clearly wanted to present his owner Insa Horstmann a special birthday treat with such a brilliant performance. I have only been riding him since 2014, which was originally supposed to cover for maternity leave. Then things were going really well with us, and I was allowed to keep his ride until he eventually retires from eventing.”
First impressions of the CIC*** Meßmer Trophy cross-country course:
Ingrid Klimke: “The three-star course is brilliant. It’s certainly difficult enough; however, fair and beautifully built; especially the water jumps are inviting and encouraging even for less experienced horses. The corners and skinny jumps need accuracy and concentration from both riders and horses.”
Andreas Ostholt: “It is a true three-star course, which presents riders with technical questions but many options to solve them. However, I feel it will be a challenge to stay within the optimum time, as the course has twists and turns requiring horses to be quick on their feet.”
Here’s a gallery of images from the first day’s competition and we look forward to another day’s dressage where Andrew rides his second horse, Perfect Stranger, and Tim has his test to do on Ringwood Skyboy. There are some other well-performed competitors to come in the CCI4* too, including Andrew Hoy on Rutherglen, Oliver Townend on Black Tie, Boyd Martin on Cracker Jack and Bettina Hoy on Seigneur Medicott.