Can Jonelle Price make it two four-star wins in a row? The darling of the Kiwi eventing scene is in the form of her life, and has a superb opportunity to add the Luhmuhlen crown to her Badminton one this weekend, when she lines up on Faerie Dianimo.
The much-admired grey ‘Maggie May’, who was Jonelle’s Rio Olympics mount, was second at the German four-star in 2015, finishing on her impressive dressage score. It was the little mare’s best international result to date, only 0.1pen behind the winner, Ingrid Klimke, and ahead of third-placed Michael Jung on his legendary La Biosethique Sam.
While the track will no doubt be as challenging as ever, this year the field is not nearly as formidable – most of Germany’s top combinations are entered in the CIC3* class instead, including reining European champs Ingrid and SAP Hale Bob, as it is one of the selection trials for the German team for the World Equestrian Games,
Jonelle is one of just three New Zealand riders competing at Luhmuhlen this year; Blyth Tait will be aiming for a top finish on the former Lizzie Green ride, Havanna, at the mare’s first four-star, while Jesse Campbell is stepping up his two, Amsterdam and Cleveland, to four-star level as well.
Jonelle’s stiffest competition looks likely to come from the experienced Brits and Australians – Shane Rose is competing on CP Qualified, Emma McNab on Fernhill Tabasco, Katja Weimann on BP Escapade, and Kevin McNab on Willunga.
The British riders are peaking just at the right time as they build towards WEG, with UK riders holding the first three spots in the latest FEI rankings, plus two more in the top 10.
Current world number three Ros Canter has Zenshera at Luhmuhlen, and she is joined by fellow Team GB hopefuls Laura Collett on Mr Bass, Nicola Wilson on Bulana (who was also produced by Lizzie Green), Kristina Cook with Billy the Red and Star Witness, Pippa Funnell with Billy Beware, Piggy French with Quarrycrest Echo and Kitty King with Ceylon LAN.
Sadly, leading Irish rider Jonty Evans is in the neuro intensive care unit at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, following a fall from Cooley Rorkes Drift at the Tattersalls Horse Trials on June 3. His condition is currently described as stable, but clearly he won’t be competing any time soon.
Ireland is well represented at Luhmuhlen, however, by riders including Aoife Clark on Master Rory, Cathal Daniels on Rioghan Rua, and Sarah Ennis, on Horseware Stellor Rebound and Woodcourt Garrison.
There is a really international feel to Luhmuhlen this year, with many riders from a number of nations hoping to impress their selectors ahead of WEG. There are competitors from Belgium, Ecuador, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands and the USA in the four-star – but our pick of one to watch is Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa, on the Duke of Cavan, who was 20th individually at Rio and since then has had a couple of good three-star wins, plus a top-10 finish at Badminton last year.
We’ll be bringing you all the action from Luhmuhlen this year right here on our website, including Libby Law’s unmissable photographs.