Many of the world’s top riders are heading to Luhmühlen in Germany for the penultimate leg of the HSBC FEI Classics series, where they will be trying to reduce the significant lead established by William Fox-Pitt, winner of Pau last year and Kentucky in April.
Fox-Pitt misses Luhmühlen after a double of wins in Bramham last weekend. The Briton has as a 14-point lead over New Zealander Andrew Nicholson, the only rider that can overhaul Fox-Pitt this weekend before the 2012 series ends in a fiercely contested finale at Burghley (August 30-September 2).
The other rider who can come close at Luhmühlen is the highly successful American Boyd Martin, who is travelling over from the USA with Remington XXV, the 16-year-old Hanoverian. Martin is currently sixth in the HSBC FEI Classics rankings after a great Rolex Kentucky performance for third place on Otis Barbotiere.
Nicholson, who had his best result in the HSBC FEI Classics last year, finishing third, brings three horses to Luhmühlen. He rides the up-and-coming Calico Joe, Shady Grey, a first-timer at this level, and Mr Cruise Control, runner-up at Pau last year and fourth at Luhmühlen in 2010.
Following the cancellation of Badminton last month, many riders are still pinning their hopes on Luhmühlen as an opportunity to shine before final Olympic selection is made, and a total of 13 nations are represented.
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 Leaderboard (after 3 out of 6 events):
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 30
2 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 16
3 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 15
4 Alison Springer (USA) 12
5 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
6 Boyd Martin (USA) 10
7 Emma Mason (AUS) 10
8 Mary King (GBR) 8
9 Karen O’Connor (USA) 8
10 Natalie Blundell (AUS) 8