Germany’s Michael Jung produced a typically brilliant performance to take the lead in the cross-country phase at the four-star Luhmühlen International Horse Trials.
But celebrations will be far from his and other riders’ minds following the tragic death of talented young German rider Benjamin Winter at the event.
Michael Jung, who won the Luhmühlen CCI4* at his first attempt five years ago and again in 2012, was the last rider out on the cross-country and was held at the start while doctors were attending to Benjamin Winter. Unaware of the tragic events and despite the hold on course, he rode with tremendous flair and accuracy, all the while giving confidence to his relatively inexperienced mare, fischerRocana FST.
Winter, 25, had fallen with Ispo at fence 20. He was taken by helicopter to Borberg Hospital in Hamburg but was pronounced dead on arrival from his head injuries.
Following a meeting between the event organisers and competitors, and at the request of Benjamin Winter’s family, it was agreed that the competition should continue. Riders will wear black armbands for the jumping phase and a short memorial ceremony will be held.
On Sunday Jung, the Olympic, World and European Champion, will have to keep the cool head for which he is well known as he does not have a Jumping fence in hand over the next three placed riders.
New Zealander Tim Price has risen from seventh place after dressage to second on the smart jumping-bred Wesko. Bettina Hoy (GER), who was visibly elated at the end of her brilliant round on Designer 10 has moved up two places to third, and Britain’s Oliver Townend, has moved up five places to be fourth on Black Tie.
There was some debate over whether Price had missed a flag on a brush arrowhead in the main arena, but by the end of the day his 20 penalties had been removed.
The next three riders are all within a jumping fence of Price. Phillip Dutton (USA) riding the stunning 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse Mighty Nice, Bill Levett (AUS) on Improvise and Boyd Martin (USA) with the former Ludwig Svennerstal (SWE) ride Shamwari 4 have moved up from 10th, 11th and 12th after dressage to fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively.
CCI4* first-timer Elaine Pen (NED) has dropped four places to eighth on Vira after collecting 4.8 time penalties in an otherwise excellent round but she is still in close contention. New Zealand’s Jonelle Price moved both of her horses up through the ranks. Aboard The Deputy she rose from 15th to ninth, after going clear and inside time to sit on 48.5. Classic Moet added just four time faults to rise from 22nd to 15th on 50.5. Not far behind them are Mark Todd and Oloa, whose clear cross country, with 7.6 time saw them move from 46th to 22nd with 73.4.
Dressage leader Lucinda Fredericks (AUS) suffered an unlucky mishap when Flying Finish jumped into the middle of a brush oxer (fence 22) and Christopher Burton (AUS), who is third in the FEI Classics, had a fall with Tempranillo in the Jeep water complex at 19.
Ingrid Klimke (GER), third after Dressage on Horseware Hale Bob, plummeted to 29th place after a run-out at the influential brush arrowhead in the arena (fence 10) and a second refusal when the 10-year-old gelding took a dislike to the cascading water at the log in the Jeep water complex (18b).
Five horses were withdrawn before cross-country, including FEI Classics leader William Fox-Pitt’s (GBR) Cool Mountain, sixth after dressage.
Seven competitors retired on course, and that number included Tom Crisp (GBR), whose horse Liberal died after collapsing near fence eight.
The Luhmühlen event, presented by DHL Paket, is the fifth and penultimate leg of the FEI Classics series.
Thirty-two of the 47 Cross Country starters completed, with 23 clear rounds, 10 of which were inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 24 seconds.
Results after Cross Country
1 Michael Jung/fischerRocana FST (GER) 41.5 + 0.0 = 41.5
2 Tim Price/Wesko (NZL) 43.8 + 0.0 = 43.8
3 Bettina Hoy/Designer 10 (GER) 43.3 + 1.2 = 44.5
4 Oliver Townend/Black Tie (GBR) 45.0 + 0.0 = 45.0
5 Phillip Dutton/Mighty Nice (USA) 46.0 + 0.0 = 46.0
6 Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 47.7 + 0.0 = 47.7
7 Boyd Martin/Shamwari 4 (USA) 47.8 + 0.0 = 47.8
8 Elaine Pen/Vira (NED) 43.2 + 4.8 = 48.0
9 Jonelle Price/The Deputy (NZL) 48.5 + 0.0 = 48.5
10 Lara de Liedekerke/Quella Langonnaise (BEL) 50.2 + 0.0 = 50.2