A day of 4 seasons at Luhmuhlen with the 5* Long XC starting early in a cool grey morning that saw the weather throw everything at us including  torrential rain, gale force winds, sunshine and showers. During one tornado style episode Tom McEwen was held on course as everything in the main arena fell apart, over or broke loose, a tree came down in one of the car parks and any of the awnings that were still out in the truck park promptly flipped themselves over.  It was quite bizarre and yet when the 4 star started the sun was out again and it felt like a different world.

Viscount Viktor and Tim managed to escape the worst of the weather as they were early out in the 5L and Viktor gave a dazzling display of scope and stride as he manoeuvred through each and every combination with consummate ease.  Tim kept him in a lovely rhythm and didn’t chase the clock and they came home with a clean jumping sheet, 27 time and a place in the top 20 which is impressive work indeed for a 10 year old.  Tim was delighted with him and pleased that his faith in him had paid dividends galore and it was a happy pair that crossed the finish line.

Having ticked that box Tim now had the immense pressure of riding two of his best horses, both five star winners, around a testing 4 star track without incurring any jumping faults in order to finalise both of their qualifications for Paris Olympics.  It is a quirk of the sport that horses and riders such as this should even have to jump through such hoops but never the less, it was a big task to face within such a short space of time as once either horse started the cross country there were no more chances to gain the MER required.

Tim and Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker) were one of the early starters and Joker’s power and enthusiasm was plainly evident as Tim had to anchor him into the combinations which Joker boldly attacked.  It was a superb round with all the hallmarks of a great partnership and they finished with 9.6 time and everyone breathed a big sigh of relief.

It seemed a long wait until Jonelle and Hiarado ( Jools) went out but her decision to hack Jools early in the morning before the rain had been a good one and now she was blessed with weak sunshine.  Jools is brave and careful and as Jonelle says, she heads out “at war with the course” as she summarises each challenge and meets it head on.  They really are a duo made for each other and they looked simply brilliant as they skipped around with 7.2 time and confirmed they are more than ready for a Championship track that will await them in Paris.

Tim and Falco were near the end of the class and whilst the Germans and Brits had dominated the scoreboard with their experienced top rides there had been plenty of other casualties along the way.  Falco was delighted to be allowed to run free for the first time since Aachen last year and he looked awesome as he used his scope and technique to look on his best form this year and Tim couldn’t have been happier with him.  They crossed the finish line with just 3.2 time and a big grin of relief from Tim as his day of reckoning was finally over and all three horses had been magnificent.

It was a happy band of Kiwis that gathered at the truck for a drink in the evening sunshine as the entire team out here had all gone well.  For sure there is plenty of work to be done in the few short weeks we have left before the summer Olympics but as long as the jog and the jumping go smoothly tomorrow then both Tim and Jonelle should be heading into selection with three horses qualified each and that was always the plan.  What was not the plan was for it to happen quite so late in Tim’s case!

NZL-Tim Price rides Viscount Viktor during the Cross Country for the CCI5*-L. 2024 Longines Luhmuehlen Horse Trials. Saturday 15 June. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography
NZL-Jonelle Price rides Hiarado during the Cross Country for the CCI4*-S – Meßmer Trophy. 2024 Longines Luhmuehlen Horse Trials. Saturday 15 June. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography