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Badminton Horse Trials
Olympic, World and European champion Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam take the lead after Dressage at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)
Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, leaders after the Cross Country at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics (Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)
Jock Paget (NZL) and Clifton Promise, winners of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics. (Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)
Jonathan Paget and Clifton promise take a victory gallop after winning the Badminton Horse Trials. (Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI)
After their first and second place wins at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day event, the scene was set for an expected show down between “Dream Team” Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and William Fox-Pitt (GBR) at the Badminton Horse Trials, fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics – a head-to-head for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing. Andrew Nicholson (NZL), going into Badminton was HSBC Rankings leader and holding a 10-point-lead in the HSBC FEI Classics standings, scored a stunning victory over William Fox-Pitt (GBR) at Kentucky.
However, Badminton received an exceptionally star-studded entry this year, and Michael Jung (GER), the reigning Olympic, World and European champion, was undoubtedly a favorite on his best horse, La Biosthetique Sam.
After the first day of Dressage, two members of Australia’s 2012 Olympic team headed the leaderboard: Christopher Burton (AUS) scored 43.0 in Badminton’s atmospheric arena to lie a fraction of a penalty ahead of his compatriot, Sam Griffiths on Happy Times.
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), was in third place with a score of 45.0 on his Burghley winner, the crowd-pleasing grey Avebury, with his Pau winner Nereo to be ridden the second day of Dressage.
Fox-Pitt was only 0.8 of a penalty adrift of Nicholson after Dressage, in equal fourth place with Ireland’s Aoife Clark on Master Crusoe.
Olympic champion Michael Jung (GER) made his Badminton debut on Leopin FST and was in sixth place with a score of 46.5 after a customarily well-ridden performance. The defending Badminton champion, Sir Mark Todd (NZL), was in 37th place after Dressage with a mark of 67.8 on his first ride, Major Milestone.
But the second day of Dressage upset the standings, with Michael Jung (GER) coming out the clear leader on La Biosthetique Sam with a score of 36.0. Italian army rider Stefano Brecciaroli (ITA) and his magnificent Belgian-bred horse, Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve, presented an elegant picture and were in lying second with only 36.8 penalties. Dirk Schrade (GER) and King Artus posted one of their best performances to slot into third with a score of 39.2 penalties. The rising New Zealand star Jonathan Paget and his Pau runner-up, Clifton Promise, were fourth with 39.7 penalties. William Fox-Pitt was in fifth place on Parklane Hawk with a score of 40.0 and Andrew Nicholson, the current HSBC FEI Classics leader, was sixth, a mere 0.2 of a penalty in arrears (40.2), on Nereo.
Cross Country day would finish with Olympic, World and European champion Michael Jung (GER) retaining his lead on La Biosthetique Sam FBW after the first two phases. In the Stadium course, he would not have a fence in hand over New Zealander Jock Paget, who was immaculate on Clifton Promise and was in second place after Cross Country.
The two Rolex Grand Slam contenders, William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Parklane Hawk and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) on Nereo, moved into closer contention in third and fourth places, still separated by just 0.2 of a penalty after faultless performances.
Jung, who had a refusal at the skinny brush at the top of the Savills’ Staircase (fence 22) on his first ride Leopin, also had a nervous moment on Sam. The 13-year-old gelding twisted over the imposing timber into Badminton’s famous Lake (fence 9) and landed facing in the wrong direction for the two small brush fences which came next, with Jung close to completely losing his reins.
The crowd gasped loudly, but somehow Jung, showing amazingly quick reactions, managed to set his horse back on track. “I gave him time to find his balance again and it was fine,” he said.
But all eventing fans know that it’s not over until after the Stadium course! New Zealander Jock Paget triumphed in an extraordinary climax to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), fourth leg of the HSBC FEI Classics. He and Frances Stead’s Clifton Promise jumped the Stadium course flawlessly, as they had been throughout the entire competition, finishing with only their dressage score and no other penalties (39.7).
In an almost unbelievable scenario, the usually faultless Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam, leaders after first two phases, hit the very last rail of the competition and dropped to second place.
The Rolex Grand Slam challenge evaporated in a split-second when William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Parklane Hawk hit the last part of the treble at fence 7 to drop from third to fifth place (44.0). Andrew Nicholson (NZL) had already jumped clear on Nereo to rise one place to third, but when Paget produced his foot-perfect round, Nicholson had to accept that the Grand Slam quest was over for him too.
Ten years ago, Paget, 29, had not even ridden at an international event. He was an apprentice bricklayer in Sydney, Australia, when he first started riding. “I knew when I came to Badminton that I had two great horses and that I could win, but didn’t actually think I was going to,” said the modest Paget, who was also 14th on Clifton Lush. “Until now, I’d made a few little mistakes at CCI4* level, but I kept knocking at the door. When I was a teenager, I watched Badminton on video, but the idea of winning it was certainly a distant dream.” The dream has now become a reality!
1 Jonathan Paget/Clifton Promise (NZL) 39.7 + 0 + 0 = 39.7
2 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER) 36.0 + 0 + 4 = 40.0
3 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 40.2 + 0 + 0 = 40.2
4 Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo (GER) 41.3 + 1.2 + 0 = 42.5
5 William Fox-Pitt/Parklane Hawk (GBR) 40.0 + 0 + 4 = 44.0
6 Stefano Brecciaroli/Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve (ITA) 36.8 + 6 + 4 = 46.8
7 Vittoria Panizzon/Borough Pennyz (ITA) 47.3 + 0 + 0 = 47.3
8 Aoife Clark/Master Crusoe (IRL) 45.8 + 0.8 + 1 = 47.6
9 Astier Nicolas/Piaf de B?Neville (FRA) 49.3 + 0 + 0 = 49.3
10 Christopher Burton/Holstein Park Leilani (AUS) 43.0 + 2.4 + 4 = 49.4
11 Andrew Nicholson/Avebury (NZL) 45.0 + 0 + 6 = 51.0
12 Rebecca Howard/Riddle Master (CAN) 51.3 + 0.8 + 0 = 52.1
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