Michael Jung (GER) rode a copybook Cross Country round on Leopin FST at Luhmühlen (GER), the penultimate leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™, and is now in line for a third major victory at the venue which launched his stellar career.
He won here in 2009, his first attempt at CCI4* level, on La Biosthetique Sam, the horse he is likely to partner at the Olympics, and the pair went on to capture the FEI World Cup™ Eventing final and the European bronze medal that year, before becoming world champions in 2010 and European champions in 2011 at Luhmühlen.
“I had a little problem at the first water complex when Leopin landed steeply over the boat fence, but apart from that he was really good,” said Jung. “We are more together as a partnership than we used to be. I’ve been riding him across country in a double bridle and that has been much better.”
Another horseman who has a beautiful Cross Country style is in close contention in second place: triple Olympic gold medallist Andrew Hoy (AUS), staging an impressive comeback to the top level, is only two penalties in arrears, on Rutherglen. Hoy took Rutherglen to Kentucky in April where, near the end of the Cross Country, the horse mistook the question at a ditch and brush fence and jumped down into the ditch.
“He has come on a lot from that experience,” explained Hoy. “I never had to push him today which was a nice feeling.” Jung and Hoy both have a Jumping fence in hand over third-placed Oliver Townend (GBR), who brilliantly cemented his new partnership with the spectacular Cross Country horse Armada, previously ridden by Andrew Nicholson (NZL).
Townend was the only rider to have two horses round inside the optimum time, and rose 12 places to eighth after Cross Country on ODT Sonas Rovatio.
Dressage leader Lucinda Fredericks (AUS) correctly predicted she would have a few time penalties on the relative novice Flying Finish, but she is still in fourth place after a committed performance; she made a brilliant recovery to hold her line after the German-bred gelding tripped over the first element of the Jeep Water. “If Flying Finish was human, he would be a really nice, honest person,” Fredericks said.
Andrew Nicholson is in fifth place on Calico Joe, the least experienced of his trio of horses, but he did not achieve the results he would have liked on the other two. The only rider with the opportunity to overhaul HSBC FEI Classics™ leader William Fox-Pitt, he had run-outs on both Shady Grey and Mr Cruise Control, the latter at the influential narrow fence at the HSBC-sponsored complex at fence 19.
Peter Flarup (DEN) and Francis Whittington (GBR) also dropped out of the top 10. Flarup, riding Calista E, was unfortunate to go the wrong side of the roping and incurred time penalties correcting himself; Whittington retired Easy Target after two run-outs at fence 19.
Charlotte Agnew (GBR), who is just starting out on her senior Eventing career, produced an excellent performance to rise two places to sixth on Out Of Africa Two. She is on an equal score, though with a faster Cross Country time, with Andreas Dibowski (GER), now in seventh on FRH Butts Avedon.
There were 17 clear rounds and 29 completions from the 41 Cross Country starters. Among those who failed to complete were Anna Warnecke (GER), who flew over Twinkle Bee’s head when he missed his stride in front of the boat in the water at fence 5a, and Boyd Martin (USA), who retired Ying-Yang-Yo after a refusal at fence 19.
Selina Elliott (GBR), 14th after Dressage on Bodidily, suffered a rider fall and was taken to hospital with a broken pelvis.
Coverage of the Jumping phase, which promises to bring Luhmühlen 2012 to a thrilling finale, starts at 13.25 CEST on FEI TV (www.feitv.org).
Results after Cross Country
1 Michael Jung/Leopin FST (GER) 32.8 + 0 = 32.8
2 Andrew Hoy/Rutherglen (AUS) 34.8 + 0 = 34.8
3 Oliver Townend/Armada (GBR) 39.5 + 0 = 39.5
4 Lucinda Fredericks/Flying Finish (AUS) 31.8 + 9.2 = 41.0
5 Andrew Nicholson/Calico Joe (NZL) 41.7+ 0 = 41.7
6 Charlotte Agnew/Out Of Africa Two (GBR) 40.8 + 2.4 = 43.2
7 Andreas Dibowski/FRH Butts Avedon (GER) 35.2 + 8 = 43.2
8 Oliver Townend/ODT Sonas Rovatio (GBR) 49.8 + 0 = 49.8
9 Wendy Schaeffer/Koyuna Sun Dancer (AUS) 49.5 + 22.4 = 51.9
10 Harry Meade/Wild Lone (GBR) 50.8 + 1.2 = 52.0
Full results on www.luhmuehlen.de
HSBC’s Training Bursary
At the centre of HSBC’s sponsorship is a commitment to the development of Eventing at every level. As part of its support of the HSBC FEI Classics™, HSBC has introduced a Training Bursary. This is a unique award which is presented to the highest placed rider never to have completed a 4* event prior to 1 January 2011. The winning rider receives a training voucher to the value of US $1,000, which is spent on sessions with a trainer of the athlete’s choice approved by the FEI and the relevant National Federation. Further information can be found here: http://www.fei.org/hsbc/hsbc-training-bursary
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 Leaderboard (after 3 out of 5 events, due to cancellation of Badminton):
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 30
2 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 16
3 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 15
4 Alison Springer (USA) 12
5 Sonja Johnson (AUS) 12
6 Boyd Martin (USA) 10
7 Emma Mason (AUS) 10
8 Mary King (GBR) 8
9 Karen O’Connor (USA) 8
10 Natalie Blundell (AUS) 8
Full leaderboard can be viewed here.
Photo caption: Michael Jung (GER) secures Cross Country win on Leopin FST at HSBC FEI Clasiscs™ in Luhmühlen (Photo: Peter Nixon/FEI)