Lausanne (SUI), 22 August 2011 – The hand of history will be resting heavily on some of the 71 riders heading for this week’s HSBC FEI European Eventing Championship in Luhmühlen (GER) on 25-28 August, as anticipation mounts for what promises to be an enthralling competition.
Host nation Germany, the reigning Olympic Champions, were World Champions in 2006, and their superstar rider Michael Jung (GER) is widely tipped for yet more individual honours. But they are making no secret of their longing to win European team gold on home ground for the first time – they had to settle for silver last time in Luhmühlen in 1999.
German team trainers Hans Melzer and Christopher Bartle have some of the world’s most talented and experienced riders from which to choose a dozen representatives – the home side is allowed 12 places.
Most notable among them are the World Champion Jung, riding his fabulous horse La Biosthetique Sam, and a quartet of Olympic gold medallists: Ingrid Klimke, Frank Ostholt, Peter Thomsen and dual CCI4* winner Andreas Dibowski.
Add to that mix former Pau CCI4* winner Dirk Schrade and Luhmühlen CCI4* runner-up Sandra Auffarth, who has been taking the circuit by storm, plus a host of other consistently successful competitors, and German supporters could well be celebrating by Sunday evening.
Lausanne (SUI), 18 June 2011 – Piggy French (GBR) galloped through pouring rain on her appropriately named 10-year-old Irish gelding Flying Machine to take the lead after Cross-Country at Luhmühlen, presented by E.ON Avacon (GER), the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
The leaderboard has changed substantially and now the cost of just one Jumping fence covers the top four riders, ensuring a thrilling day’s sport tomorrow. French is highly competent in this phase, but she has no margin for error if she is to score her longed-for first CCI4* victory.
“I have not managed to run the horse as often as you would like to before a four-star, but the shock treatment seems to have worked!” said French. “I am very excited about how he coped with it all. I am lucky to have many lovely horses to ride and when you have a day like this, it’s a bonus. The rain was unbelievable, and my gloves were heavy with water so I got rid of them, but it was no better without them!”
The home side’s Sandra Auffarth (GER) had the ride of her life to move up a place to second on the nine-year-old Selle Francais Opgun Louvo, the horse she rode into third place in the 2009 Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers (FRA). The German rider was making her four-star debut and it will be quite a story if she snatches victory tomorrow – and she says her horse is a good jumper.
19 June 2010 – Ingrid Klimke (GER) was deservedly jubilant after a superb Cross Country ride on Butts Abraxxas which kept her in the lead and still on her Dressage score at Luhmühlen (GER), presented by E.ON Avacon, the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
Klimke, who says her nerve has not been affected at all by the recent birth of her second child, said: “I’m really thrilled. My plan worked, my horse felt confident and fit and although I had thought I would take the long route at the corner in the arena (23), when I got there I decided I would like the challenge!”
Klimke declared herself “eager for tomorrow”, but she has no room for error in the final Jumping phase. Olympic team bronze medallists Sharon Hunt and the 16-year-old Tankers Town, who have proven ability over the coloured poles, have moved up three places to lie second and are just 3.8 penalties behind.
18 June 2010 – Ingrid Klimke (GER) proved that she is back at the top of her game when producing a typically convincing display to take the Dressage lead at Luhmühlen, presented by E.ON Avacon, which is the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
The Olympic and World team gold medallist, who gave birth to her second daughter, Philippa, on March 8, is, surprisingly, making her debut at her home nation’s CCI4*, and is out to convince the German selectors that she 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, which she said 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.”
16 June 2010 – Paul Tapner (AUS), the joint leader of the HSBC FEI Classics after two events, heads for Germany this weekend (June 17-20) with the prospect of extending his advantage at the series’ third leg, Luhmühlen (GER) presented by E.ON Avacon.
Tapner, who rides Kilfinnie, recent runner-up in the CIC3* at Bramham (GBR), has an exciting chance to slip ahead in the rankings, which carry a US$150,000 first prize to the most successful rider across the five CCI4* events; Kentucky winner William Fox-Pitt (GBR), with whom he shares the lead in the HSBC FEI Classics, does not have a ride here.
However, Tapner faces pressure from two other riders handily placed in the HSBC FEI Classics: last year’s Luhmühlen runner-up, Andreas Dibowski (GER), who is still chasing his first CCI4* victory, brings FRH Fantasia, and Mary King (GBR) rides her home-bred mare Kings Temptress, sixth here last year, and the experienced Apache Sauce, recent runner-up at Tattersalls CIC3-W (IRL).