The packed crowds at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA), third leg of the FEI Classics™ 2015/2016, roared their approval of Michael Jung’s (GER) back-to-back victory on FischerRocana, realising they were in the presence of greatness.
The world number one has an unbeaten record at America’s premier venue, having won on all his three visits, which includes the world title back in 2010.
“I like this place a lot,” said Jung, smilingly acknowledging the crowd. “The people are very friendly and my horse, Roxie, likes it as well. She is getting better and better. I’m learning all the time from her.”
Richard Jeffrey’s Jumping track proved influential and any hopes of applying pressure on Jung evaporated when he was left with four fences in hand to win. He did use up one, when the 11-year-old mare just clipped the second part of the double, but his winning margin of 13.3 penalties is thought to be the biggest in Kentucky’s CCI4* history.
Lauren Kieffer (USA) will surely have done her Olympic selection chances no harm with second place – a repeat of her 2014 result - on another mare, Veronica. This was a rise of four places thanks to achieving the only clear round, albeit with one time penalty, in the top 14.
Kieffer won the Land Rover Ride of the Day prize as the US rider nearest the optimum Cross Country time on Landmark’s Monte Carlo but a disastrous five rails down dropped that partnership from seventh to 18th.
Phillip Dutton (USA) also plummeted, from second to 13th, with 20 Jumping penalties on Fernhill Fugitive, but he still finished fourth and fifth on Mighty Nice and Fernhill Cubalawn.
Maya Black (USA) enjoyed a career best in third place on the spring-heeled Doesn’t Play Fair.
The scarcity of clear rounds at the top of the leaderboard meant that four faults was good enough to elevate Boyd Martin (USA) from 10th to sixth on Blackfoot Mystery, Sir Mark Todd from 12th to seventh on NZB Campino and Elisa Wallace from 14th to eighth on Simply Priceless.
As attention turns to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this weekend, Jung has now risen to taken the lead in the FEI Classics™ as well as setting himself up for the Rolex Grand Slam. His great horse La Biosthetique Sam is already en route for the famous English venue.
“My dream is to win Badminton, of course, but we will have to see what happens,” he said. The rest of the world has been warned.
About the winner
Michael Jung (GER), 33, is the first rider in history to hold Olympic, World and European titles simultaneously and the first to win five championship titles consecutively, culminating in the European title at Blair Castle (GBR) last year on FischerTakinou.
He first came to prominence in 2009, when he won the Luhmühlen CCI4*, the FEI World Cup™ Eventing series final in Strzegom (POL) and an individual European bronze medal in Fontainebleau (FRA), all on La Biosthetique Sam.
The pair went on to win the world title in Kentucky (USA) in 2010, double European gold in Luhmühlen in 2011 and double Olympic gold in London (GBR) in 2012.
In 2013, they were second at Badminton CCI4*, last year they finished third at Kentucky (USA) and then added the Burghley CCI4* title to their collection.
Jung won a second European title, at Malmö (SWE) in 2013 on Halunke, and in 2014 finished second at Luhmühlen and won world team gold and individual silver medals on FisherRocana FST, also the winner of Kentucky in 2015.
He lives in Horb, Germany, where his parents, Joachim and Bridgette, own a riding establishment.
FischerRocana FST is an 11-year-old mare by Ituango XX out of a Carismo mare, owned by Joachim and Bridgette Jung.
1 Michael Jung/FischerRocana FST (GER) 34.4 + 0.8 + 4 = 39.2
2 Lauren Kieffer/Veronica (USA) 43.9 + 7.6 + 1 = 52.5
3 Maya Black/Doesn’t Play Fair (USA) 45.5 + 4.4 + 4 = 53.9
4 Phillip Dutton/Mighty Nice (USA) 45.0 + 4.8 + 8 = 57.8
5 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Cubalawn (USA) 48.2 + 7.2 + 4 + 59.4
6 Boyd Martin/Blackfoot Mystery (USA) 52.0 + 3.6 + 4= 59.6
7 Sir Mark Todd/NZB Campino (NZL) 43.2 + 13.2 + 4 = 60.4
8 Elisa Wallace/Simply Priceless (USA) 49.8 + 6.8 + 4 = 60.6
9 Buck Davidson/Petite Flower (USA) 46.7 + 7.2 + 8 = 61.9
10 Sinead Halpin/Manoir de Carneville (USA) 47.6 + 8.8 + 8 = 64.4
Full results on www.rk3de.org
FEI Classics™ 2015/2016 Leaderboard (after 3 of 6 events)
1 Michael Jung (GER) 27 points
2 Astier Nicolas (FRA) 15
3 Shane Rose (AUS) 15
4 Lauren Kieffer (USA) 12
5 Maya Black (USA) 10
6 Tim Price (NZL) 10
7 Clarke Johnstone (NZL) 10
8 Phillip Dutton (USA) 8
9 Emily King (GBR) 8
10 Sonja Johnston (AUS) 8
See full standings www.fei.org/fei/events/fei-classics
Use hashtags #FEIClassics #Eventing
FEI Classics™ 2015/2016 calendar
1 Les 4 Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 22-25 October 2015
2 Adelaide International 3 Day Event (AUS) - 19-22 November 2015
3 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) - 28 April-1 May 2016
4 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 5-8 May 2016
5 Luhmühlen CCI 4* presented by DHL (GER) - 16-19 June 2016
6 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 1-4 September 2016
See FEI Classics™ hub: www.fei.org/fei/events/fei-classics