After a dramatic cross-country day at Luhmühlen, Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo have moved to within a single penalty of the lead.
The Kiwi pair were 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. They are now just 0.9 behind American Boyd Martin, whose storming performance on Shamwari 4, five seconds under, catapulted him from eighth spot to take pole position.
“I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination,” says Jonelle. “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.
“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.”
Boyd has been preparing his 16-year-old horse specifically for this event, and is hoping to impress the US selectors for the World Equestrian Games.
“I think he is the best horse in the world and that was a fantastic round. We’ve been plotting this for about six months.
“He’s an older horse, so I tried not to run my race too early. 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 it’s true that Luhmühlen has been considered a softer four-star than Badminton or Burghley, Mike Etherington-Smith’s track didn’t ride easily this year, with only 19 of the 46 starters jumping clear, and only five pairs making the time.
None of the top five after dressage retained their places. Dressage leader Tim Lips were awarded 50 penalties for jumping the wrong side of a flag at the corner in the main arena. Second-placed Jesse Campbell was eliminated when Cleveland fell a stride after landing in the water at fence 17, and Australia’s Shane Rose was clear with CP Qualified, but had 21.2 time faults to drop right out of contention.
Jesse had a stop at the final water with his second horse, Amsterdam, and is now in 20th place, while Blyth Tait retired Havanna after the mare took a knock to her stifle early on the course.
British riders now have three of the top five places, with Laura Collett third on Mr Bass, Willa Newton fourth on Chance Remark, and Ros Canter fifth on Zenshera.
And with less than a rail between the top five, it’s going to make for a super-exciting show jumping day.