The experienced German rider Andreas Dibowski has leapt to the top of the leaderboard with a typically fast and determined Cross Country round at Luhmühlen CCI4* (GER), presented by DHL, penultimate leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016.
Dibowski, winner of Germany’s premier event in 2011, has risen from fourth place after Dressage on the 12-year-old It’s Me XX, formerly an English racehorse by Kahyasi. In a brilliantly accurate performance, he finished just one second over the optimum time of 11 minutes 10 seconds.
“I am super happy,” said Dibowski, who turned 50 in March this year. “My horse did a wonderful job. He may be small, but he has the biggest heart.”
However, the 2008 Olympic team gold medallist has no margin for error in tomorrow’s Jumping phase as the speedy Frenchman Maxime Livio, lying second on Qalao des Mers, New Zealander Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy), third, and Britain’s Oliver Townend, fourth on the New Zealand Thoroughbred Black Tie, are all within a Jumping fence of the leader. “My horse is a very good jumper,” warned Livio of his 12-year-old Selle Francais.
“If he has poles down it will be my fault, not the horse’s, because he always gives his best.” Of the Cross Country track, Livio commented: “The ground was very good and it was a nice course. There were more twists and turns that I am used to.” Price reported that the course was tight for his long-striding horse. “He answered every question though,” added the rider. “It was a matter of keeping the rhythm.”
Julia Krajewski (GER), the Dressage leader, rode a beautiful neat round on the athletic Samourai du Thot, but she got behind the clock and 10 time penalties dropped her to fifth place. However, it was a stylish CCI4* debut.
“I wanted to give my horse a good experience so I didn’t push for the time too much,” she explained. “I am very proud of him.”
Emma Dougall (AUS), third after Dressage on Belcam Bear, also accrued 10 time penalties and is now in seventh place behind Andrew Hoy (AUS) and Rutherglen, who have moved up six places to sixth after finishing just two seconds over time.
Andrew Nicholson (NZL) survived an investigation into whether his first ride Qwanza had glanced-off the Ariat Horses fence near the end of the course, but he was judged to have jumped it clear and has moved up a place to eighth at this stage of the competition.
At the end of the day, the veteran Kiwi rider also produced a masterful performance of balance and accuracy on CCI4* first-timer Perfect Stranger and moved up 12 places to 11th.
Julian Despontin (BEL), the Dressage runner-up, is now in 18th place on Waldano 36 with 34 time penalties.
Course Designer Mark Phillips (GBR) played a major part in bringing a CCI4* to Luhmühlen for the first time in 2005 and he should be proud of this year’s track, his last after 12 years, which exerted exactly the right influence.
There were no falls and 26 of the 28 Cross Country starters completed with 18 clear rounds, four of which were inside the optimum time. Six nations are represented in the top 10.
“I owe Mark big thanks,” said Event Director Julia Otto. “We have worked together for many years now and I owe him so much.”
The drop into the DHL water at 28 caught a few riders off balance and Class Hermann Romeike (GER) on Cato 60, eighth after Dressage, had no chance of negotiating the next narrow fence after pitching on landing.
Townend retired his first ride, Dromgurrihy Blue, after a run-out at the skinny fence out of the water at the Meisner Teich (fence 19) and Arnaud Boiteau (FRA) pulled up Quoriano ‘ENE HN’ after an early refusal at fence 5, a house into water. Levett had a run-out at the third element of this complex with his first ride, Improvise, seventh after Dressage and Sarah Bullimore (GBR), 10th after Dressage, had a run-out on Reve du Rouet at the bounce of beer barrels at fence 15.
The home crowd will be hoping to see their local rider take the trophy tomorrow, but he will have a fight on his hands with riders of the calibre of Livio, Price and Townend breathing down his neck.
Results after Cross Country
1 Andreas Dibowski/It’s Me XX (GER) 43.4 + 0.4 = 43.8
2 Maxime Livio/Qalao des Mers (FRA) 44.9 + 0 = 44.9
3 Tim Price/Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL) 44.6 + 1.6 = 46.2
4 Oliver Townend/Black Tie (GBR) 47.6 + 0 = 47.6
5 Julia Krajewski/Samourai du Thot (GER) 39.0 + 10 = 49.0
6 Andrew Hoy/Rutherglen (AUS) 48.5 + 0.8 = 49.3
7 Emma Dougall/Belcam Bear (AUS) 40.6 + 10 = 50.6
8 Andrew Nicholson/Qwanza (NZL) 46.3 + 5.6 = 51.9
9 Bill Levett/Alexander NJ (AUS) 52.6 + 0 = 52.6
10 Joseph Murphy/Sportsfield Othello (IRL) 50.7 + 2.4 = 53.1