Germany’s Ingrid Klimke proved she’s back at the top of her game by producing a convincing display of dressage prowess to take the lead at the Luhmühlen CCI**** (Germany), presented by E.ON Avacon, which is the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
The Olympic and world team gold medallist, gave birth to her second daughter, Philippa, on March 8. This is the first time she’s competed in her home country’s four-star. Now she’s out to prove to the German selectors that she’s fit and should be a member of the team defending their title at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games in September.
Klimke, 42, was relieved at the calmness of the 13-year-old Butts Abraxxas. Apparently he had been over-excited on his arrival at the event.
“He was doing the flying changes without any help from me,” she joked. “Fortunately, in the arena he was so relaxed and was totally listening to me.”
The breezy weather may have come as a shock to horses after the gloriously sunny days previously. Christian Landolt of Switzerland, a member of the Ground Jury with Great Britain’s Judy Bradwell and Ireland’s David Lee, remarked that it seemed to be making some horses a little tense.
American visitor Allison Springer, who was also making her Luhmühlen debut, would probably agree. She is lying second, having produced her usual attractive test on her regular partner Arthur. She knows the Irish-bred gelding well, having produced him from a youngster, but she admitted that the beautiful chestnut does not get any easier to ride.
“He is spooky and difficult, and he felt a bit nervous today,” she said, “but I should be used to him by now, and perhaps I should go for it a little more. But I am very pleased.”
The experienced partnership of Italian Susanna Bordone and the Australian-bred mare Carrera are in third, ahead of the 2009 HSBC FEI Classics champion Oliver Townend of Great Britain, who had a highly satisfactory day—he is in fourth and sixth on his two greys, Carousel Quest and Ashdale Cruise Master.
The current joint-leader of the HSBC FEI Classics, Australian Paul Tapner, is lying ninth on the bold cross-country horse Kilfinnie ll and is well poised to extend his advantage in the series.
“Winning Badminton has certainly changed my perspective,” he said.
“What happens here will influence my decisions about Burghley and Pau. I was planning to take two horses to Burghley and miss Pau, but I may have to revise that if things get tight in the rankings.”
Tapner, who was seventh at Luhmühlen last year on Inonothing, his potential WEG horse, said he felt the cross-country had been softened from 2009 but would still be influential.
“There is a mix of very big spread fences and technical questions, and I think the mix may catch out some riders. I just hope it isn’t me!”
Mark Phillips’ track is certainly beautifully presented: the going is even, with good grass cover, and builder David Evans has his trademark carved animals—vultures, dragonflies, ducks, owls and squirrels—adorning many of the obstacles.
Springer said it’s tougher than her last two four-star runs, at Kentucky and Pau, and Great Britain’s Lucy Wiegersma, currently eighth on Woodfalls Inigo Jones, predicted that the angled brush-ditch-arrowhead combination at 13 will be influential.
Klimke described it as “a real four-star. I like the clean, friendly lines.”
Wiegersma will be first of the field of 43 to go out on the cross-country, riding Granntevka Prince, 14th, at 10:40 CET.
1. Ingrid Klimke/FRH Butts Abraxxas (GER) 39.2
2. Allison Springer/Arthur (USA) 40.0
3. Susanna Bordone/Carrera (ITA) 41.0
4. Oliver Townend/Ashdale Cruise Master (GBR) 42.8
5. Sharon Hunt/Tankers Town (GBR) 43.0
6. Oliver Townend/Carousel Quest (GBR) 43.5
7. Andreas Dibowski/FRH Fantasia (GER) 44.2
8. Lucy Wiegersma/Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GBR) 44.8
9. Paul Tapner/Kilfinnie ll (AUS) 46.2
10. Nick Gauntlett/Chilli Morning (GBR) 46.5
Follow the event on www.luhmuehlen.de