Germany’s Frank Ostholt rode to his first four-star victory, June 1-4, aboard the 11-year-old, chestnut gelding, Air Jordan. Ostholt, based at the German FN headquarters at Warendorf, entered show jumping at the Luhmï¿½hlen CCI (Germany) in the lead by the slim margin of 1.1 penalties (43.5) ahead of his compatriot Bettina Hoy on Ringwood Cockatoo (44.6), and both riders posted clear rounds to retain their placings.
Ostholt, the leading trainer of the German Olympic Committee for Equestrian Sports Center at Warendorf, had been runner-up after dressage (41.1) aboard his Hanoverian.
Hoy, who is based at Gatcombe, England, and her 15-year-old, gray gelding won the dressage with what appeared to be quite a comfortable margin (37.4). But the former European Champion lost this margin with 7.2 cross-country time penalties, while Ostholt had only 2.4 time penalties. With her clear show jumping round, Hoy put some pressure on Ostholt, but he stood up to the test and won not only the CCI****, but also the German Championships.
“It’s a wonderful, unbelievable feeling and gives me a great sense of confidence just before the World Championships. It did not surprise me that Bettina jumped clear in the show jumping, and I could deal pretty well with this [pressure],” said Ostholt.
Hoy expressed joy for Ostholt: “After the experience the team went through at Athens [when they lost the team gold to a technicality], it does not make any difference who is at the top. The main thing is that one of us is up there in the final placings,” she said.
Lucinda Fredericks of Australia claimed third place (49.9), moving up one spot with a clear show jumping round aboard her 13-year-old mare, Headly Britannia.
“After experiencing an elimination at the water last year, I’m more than satisfied. Both my husband, Clayton, and I will definitely be returning to Luhmï¿½hlen next year,” she said. “The atmosphere is so informal and people are so friendly. Even the weather, which wasn’t really as good as it could have been, didn’t seem to matter.”
Fourth-placed Linda Algotsson of Sweden, aboard My Fair Lady, moved up from seventh place with a clear show jumping round, while Germany’s Hinrich Romeike had 12 show jumping penalties aboard Marius Voigt-Logistik, dropping from third place after cross-country to seventh place (59.9) in the final standings.
Germany’s Dirk Schrade won the bronze medal in the German Championships, moving up with only one rail down in the show jumping aboard Sindy from sixth into fifth place (55.9). His fellow countryman Andreas Dibowski posted a clear show jumping round aboard Euroriding Butts Leon to advance from 10th place into sixth. With one of only four cross-country rides inside the time, he moved up from 23rd place out of 31 riders after dressage to sixth place after the first two legs.
Twenty-one horses advanced to the final day of show jumping, including British rider William Fox-Pitt, who had to present his horse Birthday Night a second time in the vet check Sunday morning. In spite of 8 penalties in show jumping, he moved up one place up to 11th (68.7).
Still in the purse in 12th place was Australia’s Olympic Champion Andrew Hoy, Bettina’s husband, with the 11-year-old gelding Classy Touch, for whom it was the first four-star.
Cindy Rawson of the United States and the 13-year-old gelding Ashdale David’s Way finished last in 21st position (126.4). In the dressage they started with a 14th place (52.8), but on cross-country they added a refusal at fence 15B, plus 29.6 time penalties and another 24 penalties in the show jumping.
The cross-country course, built by Capt. Mark Phillips, had been reduced by about 1,000 meters to 5,200 meters, because fences 3 through 9 were removed due to bad weather conditions and footing.
Ostholt’s win aboard Air Jordan came with a little bit of luck, since at fence 2, he almost fell. He had one foot out of the stirrup but found his balance again, and the rest of the course went without incident.
“At obstacle 2 I had a second of panic,” recalled Ostholt. “But, in general, it has been an unbelievably great experience to ride this course. The public was carrying me and Air Jordan forward.”
Bettina Hoy took more time in the demanding test. Aboard Ringwood Cockatoo, with whom she won the event in 2005, she finished 18 seconds over the optimum time. “From the footing it was just too risky for me to ride faster,” she said. “I made this decision together with my husband Andrew Hoy, that I would be careful. The highlight of this year is the World Championships.”
Romeike, who needed only 12 seconds more than the optimum time with his outstanding mount Marius, was thrilled. “This had been a cross-country round for me today, in which just everything went very well– from effort 1 through [fence] 35. But, Marius makes it very easy for me. He is a wonderful horse.”
Course designer Phillips said, “This was a good day for the German riders.” And with a twinkling of his eye he added, “Considering their form at the time being, I guess we almost must declare them to be favorites for the World Championships.”
A total of four of the 31 combinations stayed within the optimum time. Another 18 horses had only time penalties. Eight participants were eliminated before the final show jumping. Five riders retired on cross-country. Three more combinations were eliminated after falls.
Germany’s team coach Hans Melzer confirmed that Ostholt with Air Jordan and Hoy with Ringwood Cockatoo are at the top of the long list for the World Championships. The other names on this list are: Dibowski with Leonas Dancer; Ingrid Klimke with Sleep Late; Anna Warnecke with Twinckle Bee; and Hinrich Romeike with Marius.
Klimke Claims CIC**
Victory in the CIC** went to Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, who achieved a great second place at Badminton (England) in May. At Lu-hmï¿½hlen she rode the 9-year-old, Hanoverian gelding FRH Butts Abraxxas to victory.
Germany’s Insa-Kristina Weddige aboard Aram finished second, after clear show jumping and cross-country rounds. Third place went to Peter Thomsen aboard King Artus.
After dressage and show jumping, Klimke shared the lead with German rider Beeke Kaack, who had achieved exactly the same dressage score as Klimke and also had one rail down in the show jumping aboard her 11-year-old gelding Conti. But she withdrew before the final cross-country in agreement with the German coach Melzer. It was understood that her horse should be spared for an important qualifying competition in two weeks.