Great Britian’s Laura Collett has five star hopes for Hester—and she’s out to prove them in Luhmühlen.

The pair took the lead on the first dressage day of the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials CCI5*-L in Germany on a score of 30.6.

The Olympic gold medalist has a 0.2 penalty advantage over her Tokyo 2020 teammate Tom McEwen and CHF Cooliser (30.8), followed by Lara de Liedekerke-Meier (BEL) with Hooney d’Arville (31.6).

“She’s just getting better and better. I think she’s really starting to trust me and realize it’s not the end of the world when she goes into the dressage arena. Each time she goes in and doesn’t lose her mind it’s a step in the right direction,” said Collett.

First developed by New Zealand’s Jonelle Prize up to the 4* level and taken over by Collett in 2021, the 13-year-old British Hanoverian mare contested her first CCI5*-L at Badminton in May but retired on cross country.

Their looking for redemption this week in Germany.

“I’ve had her for nearly three years and it’s been a process of figuring out her brain,” continued Collett.

“She can do all of the moves apart from the changes when she’s relaxed. She only makes mistakes from wanting to do it right. Her trot work is stunning, the next step is to get the canter just as secure. I’m absolutely over the moon with her.”

The proof in the pudding will be Mike Etherington-Smith’s “proper five-star” cross country course come Saturday.

“The track should suit her, it’s a great. It’s a five-star course and she’s not a proven five-star horse yet but hopefully at the end of the weekend we can say that she is. The first water is serious. It comes very much up in your face. But I think they’ve been very kind in that there’s a get out of jail card. If things go wrong in the first part you can take a long route. There are questions all the way round, so you’ve got to be on your game all the way round.”

McEwen agreed with that assessment: “It’s a proper five star: lots of width on the tables, lots of skinnies and a great use of the ground. There’s plenty to do throughout the course so you have to make sure you’ll find a good rhythm.”

The Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials continues Friday with the second day of dressage and is streaming on Horse & Country TV.