All change but Jung stays in pole position

It was all change at the top of the leaderboard at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, but Germany’s Michael Jung remains at the top of the leaderboard.

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Michael Jung

With Fischerrocana FST, Michael set off as joint overnight leader. But the combination made an early exit when they fell at the Lion Bridge (Fence Four). He made amends with his second horse later in the day, La Biosthetique Sam FBW, showcasing why he is one of the world’s best riders with a fantastic clear round. Adding only 0.8 time penalties to their dressage score they finished on 40 penalties.

Of his leading horse Michael said: “I came back to the stable (after my fall) and my brother said now you have to start fighting. Sam is a really strong horse in the cross country. I was a little bit slow in the beginning and slow up the hill to Cottesmore Leap but after this I wanted to catch the time and he was jumping very well and gave me a good feeling. It was a tough four star competition but we had very good conditions. It’s very nice for me to be here for the first time.”

New Zealand’s power couple Tim and Jonelle Price ended the day is second and third places respectively with Jonelle being one of two riders to make the optimum time with Classic Moet.

On Ringwood Sky Boy Tim is just 1.5 penalties behind Michael, but he had an unwelcome guest travel round the cross country course with him having been stung by a wasp, a fact he only discovered when he finished the course.

Tim Price
Tim Price

Tim said: “I’m so happy for Skyboy, he is such a trier and he is one of a kind. I have to manage him a bit and it was a bit untidy in places but we know each other really well. It’s one of those courses where you would like to have a proper plan but you have to throw that to one side and feel your way round. Many decisions were made on the spot and that’s part of riding a good round. The same honesty Skyboy brings to cross country he brings to show jumping. Hopefully he feels strong enough – I’m looking forward to it, I know what I’ve got and I think he will be good tomorrow.”

Jonelle was equally as happy with her horses performance, saying: “She was class all the way round. I set

Jonelle Price
Jonelle Price

out confidently and I feel lucky to be sitting on her on cross country day. She is such a little athlete – she is fast and does it so effortlessly and that installs confidence in you as a rider. I had a smoother round than a lot today and that is a sign of a good cross country horse.”

Looking forward to the show jumping Jonelle added: “She is a good show jumper and she looks to have pulled up really well now – that’s half the battle. She’ll certainly come out and give it her best.”

Australia’s Christopher Burton had an exceptional day across the country. He pulled up from 21st position after the dressage with TS Jamaimo to finish in fourth – being the only other combination to go under the time. Chris is also in fifth going into the show jumping with Haruzac.

He commented: “I’m delighted to have such a good day. Haruzac was a bit scrappy early on – he was a bit short of a run – and didn’t want to take me forward. Half way round he got thinking and I had a good ride so I was very happy with him. If I was to ever ride a four star course it would be on that one and I am very lucky. I was asked whether the ground was getting better – it was faster but full credit to TS Jamaimo. He was very light across the ground so I was delighted he came inside the time. From fence one he was on the job. It was a lot of fun. It’s a tough old sport and when it does go well it’s great to enjoy it.”

The first combination out on course, Oliver Townend and Dromgurrihy Blue, put in a brilliant pathfinding round to come home with 5.6 time penalties. It was to be the best of Oliver’s three rides and makes him the highest placed British rider in ninth place going into the show jumping. Oliver said: “The course rode as I expected it to and the distances came up well – surprisingly well in places. From fence four on everything was a serious question, but Dromgurrihy Blue is a very genuine horse and what he lacks in blood and a slimline figure he makes up for in heart and jump. He’s not a quick horse in any shape or form, so I would expect you’ll see a few make the time.”

William Fox-Pitt, who was a joint leader with Michael Jung overnight, was held on course with Fernhill Pimms, and on re-starting almost missed an element of a fence, only remember at the last moment and therefore incurred time penalties. However the came home with no jumping penalties and currently lie in 13th. He said: “I am delighted with how he went – this is a big deal for him. It’s his first four star and this is a serious track. The whole error of course is my fault. My brain let me down. But I’m very happy with him and he tried all the way.”

There were a number of high profile casualties including Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover and  Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen, both of whom suffered falls on the course.

Following the cross country Captain Mark Phillips commented: “Obviously it was a big track. So I was pretty nervous. I have to say the riders rode the fences differently to what I thought. Most people rode Capability’s Cutting on the left and I was quite happy about that. I didn’t see the four strides coming at Cottesmore Leap to the brush, the gate at the Land Rover Dairy Mound frightened me to death but half jumped that and I didn’t see riders taking three strides at the Rolex Combination.What really pleased me of all the ones who started was that only 12 walked home – I was expecting more than that over a track of this size. There were 38 clear rounds which is a good percentage out of this size of course.When you change direction, particularly at a place like Burghley where there is no flat ground, it’s an expensive exercise to turn it around. I will be under pressure to keep it this way for a year or two. But what is going to happen is the riders will learn how to do this. What they have learnt today is that it was very difficult to make the time. So next year riders are going to be closer to the clock.”

Going into the final day’s show jumping, the top ten are as follows:

1; Michael Jung, La Biosthetique Sam FBW, 40.0

2; Tim Price (NZL), Ringwood Sky Boy, 41.5

3; Jonelle Price (NZL), Classic Moet, 44.9

4; Christopher Burton, TS Jamaimo, 45.0

5; Christopher Burton, Haruzac, 47.6

6; Bill Levett (AUS), Improvise, 49.7

7; Mark Todd (NZL), Leonardis II, 50.5

8; Cedric Lyard (FRA), Cadeau Du Roi, 50.8

9; Oliver Townend, Dromgurrihy Boy, 51.4

10; Kristina Cook, Star Witness, 52.6

Sarah Carless

Photography by HR

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