Sarah Carless reports ….
Reigning Olympic champion Michael Jung claimed victory in the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge
at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 94th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
Jung, who won individual gold and team silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, thrilled a full house in the Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday night by guiding Cruising Guy home in the fastest time to win the $20,000 prize.
Held over two rounds, riders came into Saturday’s competition carrying forward their opening phase scores from Friday night. Ranked second behind Karl Slezakcoming into the final phase of competition, Jung shot to the top of the leaderboard with a penalty-free, two-night cumulative time of 152.13 seconds when Slezak had two refusals riding Fernhill Wishes.
Jung’s win was especially remarkable, considering he had only ridden his winning mount, Cruising Guy, for the first time 24 hours earlier.
“I really felt more of a partnership with the horse tonight,” said Jung following his victory. “He was really concentrated, and nearly in every moment he was super to ride. He’s an experienced horse and very well prepared. I just had a good ride with a good horse. I have to say thank you to the team and to the horse.”
While Jung claimed victory, Rachel McDonough placed second riding Irish Rhythm with a two-round time of 160.59 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix riding Abbey GS, owned by Charlotte Schickedanz.
Jung made his first trip to Toronto a winning one over the 18-obstacle track set by course designer Captain Mark Phillips of Great Britain, himself an Olympic team gold medalist from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
“I really liked the show,” said Jung, 34. “It’s very beautiful, and the course designer is very experienced. I’ve ridden many of his courses outside. It’s totally different inside, but he did a good job. It’s good competition.”
SOURCE Royal Agricultural Winter Fair