Jung leads after Cross Country with Sam at Burghley
Michael Jung (GER) showed the mark of a true champion when bouncing back from a dramatic early mishap to take the Cross Country lead on his second horse, La Biosthetique Sam, at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR), sixth and final leg of the FEI Classics™ 2014/2015.
Jung only got as far as fence 4 on his joint Dressage leader, FischerRocana FST, where, to gasps from the crowd, the mare tripped and fell in the water. But he was masterful aboard his Olympic, world, and European champion Sam, finishing just two seconds over time to rise seven places to first.
“My first Cross Country ride at Burghley was pretty quick – about 40 seconds,” joked the world number one. “I got back to the stables and my brother said: ‘Never mind, you’ve already gone up a place on Sam!’
“I know the horse very well now, we’ve had many experiences together, and he was really fighting for me and jumping well. This event is such a great tradition, so it’s wonderful to be here.”
William Fox-Pitt (GBR), the joint Dressage leader on Fernhill Pimms, suffered a rare lapse of concentration. He had the misfortune to be held on course before fence 23, a big spread on a downhill slope, while it was being repaired. Then, when taking the long route at the next obstacle, the Discovery Valley complex, he galloped past the second element and had to retrace his steps.
“It’s been good and bad,” said Fox-Pitt, who is now 13th with 20.4 time penalties. “The horse was fantastic, but I’m sad to have let him down and had a mental blank.”
New Zealander Tim Price had by far his best Burghley in five attempts and is now in second place on Ringwood Sky Boy, just 1.5 penalties behind Jung. However, his day was not without drama either, as a wasp got inside his vest halfway round the course and stung him.
“I had this strange scratchy feeling, which I was trying to adjust,” said Price, laughing. “When I got back to the finish, I lifted my shirt up and out flew a wasp. He was pretty angry, too!”
Price had one of the fastest rounds of the day for 2.8 penalties, but there was an unnerving scramble over a fence in the water at the Trout Hatchery. “Sky Boy is not the most conventional jumper and he’s got a long stride for the technical elements. This was one of those courses where you have to change your plan and make decisions on the spot,” explained the rider.
It was a good day for family Price as Tim’s wife, Jonelle, is in third place, only 3.4 penalties behind him. Jonelle had a brilliant round on Classic Moet and was one of only two riders to finish inside the optimum time of 11 minutes 12 seconds. “My mare was pretty faultless from start to finish,” she said.
Australian Christopher Burton was the first to achieve the time, on second ride TS Jamaimo, and he has risen 17 places to fourth; he is also in fifth place on Haruzac, previously 11th after Dressage.
Australian and New Zealand riders are to the fore, with Bill Levett (AUS) up 13 places to sixth on Improvise and Sir Mark Todd (NZL) moving up five places to seventh on Leonidas ll, despite a scary moment when the horse dived at the corner fence at 15.
“I had a couple of hairy moments because the horse was drifting left, which made the fences seem even bigger,” said the five-time Burghley winner who revealed that the German-bred gelding has missed work with an infection. “But he was so brave and I’m thrilled with him as it’s the biggest track he’s jumped, a good old-fashioned four-star course.”
Frenchman Cedric Lyard is ninth after a good performance on Cadeau du Roi and Oliver Townend (GBR) is best of the British in ninth place, having been a brilliant trailblazer with his confident opening round on CCI4* first timer Dromgurrihy Blue.
Townend was also last on course with the experienced Armada, and had the competition at his mercy, but an uncharacteristic mistake, a run-out in the Trout Hatchery, left the rider slapping his head in frustration and dropped him from fifth after Dressage to 18th.
Kristina Cook is next best Briton, in 10th on Star Witness, having survived a near unseating at the Trout Hatchery when she was hanging right out of the saddle. “I’m really proud. It’s always great to have a ride like this with a horse you’ve produced from nothing,” she said. “He was so honest and he helped me out.”
Riders had been instructed at the competitor briefing to bear in mind the climb uphill to the huge Cottesmore Leap (fence 13) which came earlier than usual due to Course Designer Mark Phillips (GBR) reversing the direction of his track.
Pippa Funnell (GBR), 12th on the scopey Redesigned, admitted she was kicking herself after being too conservative early on. “If I have a frustration, it’s that I lost time in the first three minutes,” she said. “But this is some horse to sit on at big fences like the Cottesmore Leap and my ride was everything I hoped for. It’s why I come here!”
Seven of the top 10 riders after Dressage dropped from the reckoning. Sam Griffiths (AUS), third on Happy Times, and Rosalind Canter (GBR), 10th on Allstar B, had run-outs at the Discovery Valley; Andrew Hoy (AUS), fourth, was unseated when Rutherglen glanced off the corner at Capability’s Cutting, and Niklas Bschorer (GER) had a refusal with Tom Tom Go 3 at the right-handed bounce out of the Anniversary Splash and retired.
Overall, however, it was a highly successful day, with 42 clears from the 68 Cross Country starters and 55 completions. “This is a good ratio for a course of this size,” commented Mark Phillips. “I’m a relieved and happy man tonight!”
Results after Cross country
1 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam (GER) 39.2 + 0.8 = 40.0
2 Tim Price/Ringwood Sky Boy (NZL) 38.7 + 2.8 = 41.5
3 Jonelle Price/Classic Moet (NZL) 44.9 + 0 = 44.9
4 Christopher Burton/TS Jamaimo (AUS) 45.0 + 0 = 45.0
5 Christopher Burton/Haruzac (AUS) 41.2 + 6.4 = 47.6
6 Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 44.9 + 4.8 = 49.7
7 Sir Mark Todd/Leonidas ll (NZL) 41.7 + 8.8 = 50.5
8 Cedric Lyard/Cadeau du Roi (FRA) 39.6 + 11.2 = 50.8
9 Oliver Townend/Dromgurrihy Blue (GBR) 45.8 + 5.6 = 51.4
10 Kristina Cook/Star Witness (GBR) 47.4 + 5.2 = 52.6
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