Jun 17, 2023

Collett and London 52 Stay Strong Over a Tough Longines Luhmühlen CCI5*-L Track

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Laura Collett and London 52. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Luhmühlen, Germany—June 17—Laura Collett had a few seconds in hand as she headed out onto Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course at the Longines Luhmühlen CCI5*-L this morning with London 52.

After a disappointing run on her first horse Dacapo, where she retired on course, Collett was determined to give London 52, or “Dan” as he’s known in the barn, a good ride around the twisty, mentally-taxing track.

Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett’s 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Landos x Quinar Z) answered all the questions and cruised around inside the optimum time of 11 minutes to stay in the lead.

“London 52 was foot-perfect from start to finish,” said Collett. “He went out, and he just gave me the most amazing feel, and he felt totally switched on to all the fences. It kind of felt like he'd already walked the course and knew what was coming. He was really honest. Jumping into the first water, which in the past has been sticky for him, and he felt phenomenal the whole way round and galloped the whole way to the end so I can’t fault him.”

Laura Collett and London 52.

The pair is usually a one- or none- in the show jumping, and Collett’s feeling good about Sunday.

“As long as the jockey doesn't mess up!” she said. “He's my horse of a lifetime, and to be honest, he owes me absolutely nothing, and I just feel very privileged to be in this position again, and fingers crossed we can pull it out of the bag tomorrow, but honestly if it doesn't come off then it wasn't meant to be. He's been insane all week and hopefully we can finish it off with another performance tomorrow, but we'll enjoy today first.”

Kitty King and Vendredi Biats.

Kitty King put in a classy clear round on Diana Brown, Sally Lloyd Baker, Sally Eyre, and Samantha Wilson’s Vendredi Biats to move from third to second overnight, adding nothing to their score. With their 26.8, Collett has 6.5 penalties in hand tomorrow, which is a rail and some time.

“‘Froggy’ was absolutely fantastic,” said King of the 14-year-old Selle Français gelding (Winningmood x Liane Normande). “He was brilliant, and to be honest, it was a big relief to finish because we've had a few kind of mishaps in our last couple of five-stars. He was very well placed at Burghley [England] after dressage, and the he broke a pin. So that was very disappointing, and then he was just a bit too fresh at Badminton [England] and jumped a log pile early on very big and stumbled on landing, and we had a very frustrating fall, so to put those to bed and come round to Luhmühlen and have such a fantastic ride was absolutely brilliant. He just felt back to his best, and was really on song and looking for all the flags. He was just brilliant.”

2022 FEI World Eventing champion Yasmin Ingham moved into third on The Sue Davies Fund’s Rehy DJ, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tinarana’s Inspector x Rehy Misty). They’ll head into show jumping on a score of 27.5.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF.

The U.S. riders had a mixed bag of results today. Boyd Martin was first out on Christine Turner, Thomas Turner, and Tommie Turner’s Tsetserleg TSF (Windfall 2 x Thabana), and the pair picked up a stop at the second part of fence 13, a corner in the water after a huge drop. They picked up some time as well and now sit 25th.

“He was traveling like a champion, and I really screwed up,” he admitted. “I was flying around the course, and he was giving me a fantastic ride to every fence, and I turned up really tight to the jump and got a very holding, backwards, deep distance to part A, which in hindsight I wished I’d took my time and placed him better. I got him underneath the rail into the water, and then I landed steep and it was a forward three strides, and I tried to do four strides. I don’t know why I did it. It was a horrendous mistake on my part, so apologies to ‘Thomas’ and his connections, because he really didn’t deserve that ride. He made easy work of the course.”

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B.

Martin rode the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s Fedarman B, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Eurocommerce Washington x Paulien B), next in the gelding’s five-star debut, and they came home clear and inside the time to move into ninth place. He also rode five-star first-timer Luke 140, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Landos x Omega VI) owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate. They were also double-clear to move into fourth place.

“I didn’t know quite what to expect from ‘Bruno’ and Luke just because it’s their first crack at it, but they’re fantastic jumpers and brave, keen, enthusiastic cross-country horses. I’ve been with them both for a long time now, so we know each other through and through.”

Martin said Bruno was affected by the crowds at the beginning of the course, but once they got settled in, “he’s got a heart of gold. He started to tire three-quarters of the way around, but he just pinned his ears back and kept chugging along. He’s a high-quality jumper, so even as the course goes on I feel like I can see a stride to the fences a long way out, and I don’t have to change him to the jumps.”

Martin’s been riding Bruno since 2021 after the gelding’s rider Annie Goodwin died in a cross-country schooling accident.

“He’s got a huge group of Annie’s family and friends cheering him on,” said Martin. “Some are in the syndicate and some are just always around patting me on the back and giving Bruno a carrot. It’s a fantastic privilege riding a horse feeling like you’re representing Annie’s work. It’s a huge feeling of happiness crossing the finish line today for Annie’s friends.”

Boyd Martin and Luke 140.

Martin was thrilled with Luke’s finish, although he admits the gelding was “a raving lunatic” at the beginning of the course. “I’ve specifically run him slow and relaxed at all the lead-up events, but it didn’t do me much good when I came out the box because he was flying! Luckily for me he started to get a little bit tired about halfway around, and then he was luxurious to ride. I’ve never had a horse that’s so keen to get through the flags. As soon as he locks on to the jump, he’s like, ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!’ and I’m trying to balance him and steady him up. He’s a wild man, but I love him to bits. He’s a true fighter. He did it quite easily in the end.”

Sydney Elliott had a strong ride on Carol Stephens’ 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Diarado x Lantana) QC Diamantaire. They were held after the water at fence 13 while Imogen Murray’s Roheryn Ruby was vanned off course when she took a bad step partway through the course.

But Elliott and the gelding carried on and finished inside the time to move into 14th place.

Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire.

“To say the least, we had some pressure on us today, which is good,” said Elliott. “I love having the pressure. In the warmup he felt really good from the first fence, so I was like, I think we’ve got it. If I can do my job, he’s ready. I think I walked the course almost five times just to know my minutes and my lines and where I could really get tight to the ropes. He was pretty good. The course really felt like Aachen [Germany] in long format. It was great. It suited him. The ground and the weather couldn’t have been better.”

Matt Flynn fell from Wizzerd at the second fence but was up and walking quickly. Hallie Coon retired Global EX after a runout at a skinny brush at 5c. Katherine Coleman and RLE Limbo Kaiser completed the course with 40 jumping penalties.

Tamie Smith and Solaguayre California were jumping well in the mare's first five-star, but Smith retired at fence 15 when the horse didn't feel right. She was transported back to the stables and was found to have punctured her knee while jumping the C element of the water at 13. She was then transported to a local equine hospital to be monitored, and Smith said her prognosis is optimistic.

In the CCI4*-S, Dan Kreitl retired in the arena with Carmango after three refusals, and Coon retired Cute Girl at 10a.

Overall, 12 pairs made the time, and 29 of 38 starters completed. Seven pairs retired and two were eliminated.

Etherington-Smith reversed the course this year, and said he enjoys the challenge of designing at Luhmühlen, which is very flat with only one small uphill climb and a few man-made mounds.

"I'm very conscious of the exposure of the sport in this country and very mindful of that, which is creeping towards the U.K., and everywhere, isn't it?" he said. "We all bear a responsibility to look after horses, so what I try to do with any course I produce is if a rider makes a mistake or an error, the horse has a way to get out of it, rather than have horses falling.

"While there are quite a lot of skinnies and angles, we shouldn't compare Luhmühlen [with the other five-stars] because they've all got their own personalities and their own characteristics.," he added. "Here it's very flat, so you're trying to find anything that's got a little bit of a hill. I also try and keep riders slower for longer on the course so that time becomes influential. That's really hard here because there isn't any terrain to help in that regard.

Etherington-Smith was a bit surprised at how many run outs there were on the five-star course, but he was pleased with the number of riders who made the time.

“I was pleased with the way it rode, and it's really important to try and avoid horse falls. I think we were lucky in that respect. We always need a little bit of luck in that regard," he said. "The time, it's always going to be, when you've got some really, really top horses here, pretty achievable for the real class horses, and we've got many of the best horses and riders in the world here. Well done them.”

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