“Tomorrow is another day and there’s a long night ahead, but I’m going to enjoy the moment”
Olympic and European Champion Michael Jung is on the brink of making history by winning Eventing’s richest purse – the Rolex Grand Slam, worth £240,000.
The German star leads the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials field by a country mile on his equally talented partner, La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, after today’s Cross Country phase. The pair finished clear and inside the time – one of only 10 combinations to do so.
There was drama aplenty from start to finish as Emily King and Brookleigh, lying in second place overnight and within striking distance of the leaders, crashed out in heart-breaking fashion at the penultimate fence, the Rolex Crossing. In an even more cruel twist, it was in the exact same place that her mother, Mary, exited the competition eight years ago after falling from Imperial Cavalier.
This leaves Michael with a cushion of two Show Jumping fences in hand going into the final phase.
“Tomorrow is another day and there’s a long night ahead, but I’m going to enjoy the moment,” said the German, who was asked whether he thought Sam was the best Event horse in the world.
“We have an amazing partnership, so for me he is the best horse in the world, but for other people I’m not so sure,” he smiled.
Germany also occupies second spot, with Andreas Ostholt and So It Et putting in an assured jumping performance to finish just over the time on a combined score of 43.4.
“I had one hairy moment at the KBIS Vicarage Vee when I was sitting on top thinking, ‘not today, not today’! But my horse kept going and I am the happiest man alive,” said an elated Andreas.
Gemma Tattersall has British hopes resting on her shoulders after a superb Cross Country clear round inside the time puts her in third place overnight with Arctic Soul.
“He left the start box and jumped the first three fences as if he was on the racecourse at Cheltenham,” laughed Gemma. “He skipped over the Vicarage Vee like it was nothing; I found I was laughing to myself when I landed because it seemed so easy.”
It’s tight at the top. Less than four penalties – one dislodged Show Jumping rail – separate second to 11th place, with New Zealanders Mark Todd (Leonidas II), Jonathan Paget (Clifton Lush) and Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation) packing into the top seven with good performances. This morning’s pathfinders Oliver Townend and Armada lie eighth, while Izzy Taylor earned plaudits for her sympathetic riding aboard the inexperienced Allercombe Ellie; their round, for six time penalties, leaves them currently in ninth.
The drama went right to the wire with the penultimate combination out on course, Christopher Burton (AUS) and Nobilis 18, lying fifth overnight, screwing over the first element of the Shogun Hollow (fence 23a) when on track to move into second place.
Problems were otherwise well spread around Giuseppe Della Chiesa’s 32-fence course. Three of the first five out on track fell foul of – or fell into – the KBIS Vicarage Vee, including Izzy Taylor on her first ride, KBIS Briarlands Matilda.
Tomorrow’s Show Jumping phase kicks off at 11.30am with the lower placed riders. The top 20 will jump at 2.55pm.
To view today’s full results, click here.