Sharon Hunt (GBR) enjoyed the biggest thrill of her long partnership with Tankers Town when the fleet-footed gelding gave her a first CCI4* win, at Luhmühlen, presented by E.ON Avacon, the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™. “I’m shocked,” said the 32-year-old, “but I always knew he was a phenomenal horse.”
The optimum time of 90 seconds proved extremely difficult on the spacious Jumping track and only nine out of the 32 finishers avoided collecting time penalties.
Tankers Town lowered the third fence, but Hunt kept up a good speed and did not incur any other penalties, giving her the slimmest of leads – just 0.2 of a penalty – over Ingrid Klimke (GER), whose chances of a first CCI4* win disappeared when she had both parts of the double at five down. “The course really suited my horse because he is so good at jumping fast,” explained Hunt.
Andreas Dibowski (GER), also has to wait for his first CCI4* victory, but his excellent third place on the mare FRH Fantasia has handed him a seven-point advantage in the HSBC FEI Classics™, and he will be bidding to hold onto his lead in Pau (FRA).
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), who jumped a beautiful clear round – one of only two without time faults – on the elegant grey Mr Cruise Control, rose three places to fourth. He was also 10th on Armada, and has now gained a foothold on the HSBC FEI Classics™ rankings.
“I think they (the HSBC FEI Classics™) are a very good thing for the sport because they are encouraging more riders to go to these CCI4* events and that is good for the sport,” he said, signalling his intention to take horses to both Burghley and Pau.
Lucy Wiegersma (GBR) also had two horses in the top 10: Woodfalls Inigo Jones, sixth, and Granntevka Prince, ninth. There were five British horses in the final top 10, the others being Ashdale Cruise Master (Oliver Townend), who dropped two places after hitting fence three and incurring eight time faults, and Apache Sauce, who rose two places to seventh for Mary King.
The HSBC Training Bursary, worth US$1,000 to the highest-placed CCI4* first-timer, was awarded to French rider Regis Prud’hon (FRA), who finished 12th on Debiut with a clear Jumping round.
Sharon Hunt’s victory is the culmination of a 12-year partnership. Her parents bought Tankers Town, an Irish Sport Horse by Ceredigion, as a four-year-old and she broke him in herself.
Hunt gained her first Union flag competing as an individual at the 2006 World Equestrian Games on Tankers Town and was a member of Britain’s bronze medal team at the 2008 Olympics. Her previous best CCI4* result was fifth at Badminton in 2008. She has recently moved to a new base in Kent, England, and is now trained in Dressage by former British team rider Anna Ross-Davies.
When asked if she will be attending any more of the HSBC FEI Classics™, Hunt said: “Obviously, I now hope that I will be on an aeroplane to Kentucky, but if that doesn’t come off I shall certainly be at Burghley trying to win some money!”
1 Sharon Hunt/Tankers Town (GBR) 43.0 + 0 + 4 = 47.0
2 Ingrid Klimke/FRH Butts Abraxxas (GER) 39.2 + 0 4/4 = 47.2
3 Andreas Dibowski/FRH Fantasia (GER) 44.2 + 0 + 4 = 48.2
4 Andrew Nicholson/Mr Cruise Control (NZL) 48.2 + 0.8 + 0 = 49.0
5 Oliver Townend/Ashdale Cruise Master (GBR) 42.8 + 0.8 + 4/4 = 51.6
6 Lucy Wiegersma/Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GBR) 44.8 + 0 + 4/4 = 52.8
7 Mary King/Apache Sauce (GBR) 51.0 + 1.6 + 8 = 52.6
8 Andreas Ostholt/Franco Jeans (GER) 53.3 + 0 + 8 = 61.3
9 Lucy Wiegersma/Granntevka Prince (GBR) 48.2 + 2.8 + 8/5 = 64.0
10 Andrew Nicholson/Armada (NZL) 58.5 + 0 + 2/4 = 64.5
Follow the event on www.luhmuehlen.de
FEI TV: Luhmühlen will be shown on FEI TV; visit www.feitv.org
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 3 of 5 events)
1 Andreas Dibowski 22
2 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 15
3 Paul Tapner (AUS) 15
4 Sharon Hunt (GBR) 15
5 Ingrid Klimke (GER) 12
6 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
7 Mary King (GBR) 12
8 Becky Holder (USA) 10
9 Daisy Berkeley (GBR) 10
10 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 8
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)
Prize Money - HSBC will contribute US$ 1million to the series over the next three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
HSBC, the world's local bank, is a platinum partner of FEI and global sponsor of the eventing discipline.
As part of this partnership, HSBC is title sponsor of the HSBC FEI Classics™ and HSBC FEI World Cup™.
At the centre of all HSBC’s sponsorships is a commitment to youth, education and community. The Pony Club and HSBC have teamed up to create the HSBC Pony Club Eventing Training Programme.
Caption: Sharon Hunt (GBR) claimed her first-ever CCI4* victory when winning at Luhmühlen with the Irish Sport Horse Tankerstown to move into fourth place in the HSBC FEI Classics™ standings after three of five events. Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI