Australia’s Christopher Burton rode Underdiscussion to win Aachen’s DHL Prize for the CICO3*, with Germany’s Michael Jung in second place.
It was only the second time in Aachen for Burton, and he said it was thrilling to win.
“It is a wonderful course, everything went brilliantly for me today and I am very happy,” he said.
The 31-year-old has been living in Gillingham in Britain since 2011 to prepare for the Olympic Games. He made his international debut in 2010, and represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky the same year.
In 2008 he was awarded the Anna Savage Medal for “the best and fairest” Australian eventer.
Burton and Underdiscussion, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Lantham, finished the 4075 metre-long course clear in a time of 7.04 minutes which was within the allowed time of 7.07 minutes. His total score was 38.80 minus points.
The horse is part owned by New Zealand dressage rider Christine Weal, who was on hand to watch the combination sweep aside some quality combinations to take victory.
Before he was sold two years ago, Underdiscussion was on the New Zealand dressage squad with Weal and was also evented by former Kiwi representative Donna Smith.
“He was pretty useful but I knew he wasn’t going to be a grand prix dressage horse,” said Weal. “He’s done a lot of mileage on the flat and while he used to be difficult in big atmospheres, now he just loves it!”
Weal got a call from Burton last week and scrambled to find a ticket from New Zealand in time to see them go.
“It’s just amazing to have such belief in the horse and see it come through.”
Burton was also 10th with his second horse, the 10-year-old thoroughbred, Haruzac.
The best German rider was second-places Michael Jung with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. The pair galloped over the finish line in a time of 7.11 minutes, bringing their total score to 40.60 minus points.
“I was very satisfied with our performance here. No, I didn’t take any real risks, in fact I took plenty of time for certain obstacles. The course here in Aachen is super, you can always keep up a nice forward gallop. The crowd are 100 percent behind you, the conditions are excellent,” Jung said.
He said he felt he still had some work to do before the Olympic Games. “We have all seen that things don’t always go as planned in the dressage. We have got to improve our fitness. I think I have a good chance of being on the team in London, coming second in Aachen means you can take things a little more relaxed. We have a very strong team that is in great form and mentally very strong.”
Germany’s European team gold and individual silver medallist Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo finished fourth, win reigning world and European champion Michael Jung on his recent Luhmühlen winner Leopin, eighth, Dirk Schrade on Hop And Skip, seventh, and Ingrid Klimke with her 2008 Olympic gold medallist Butts Abraxxas, 18th.
Butt’s Abraxxas ran out at one of the water jumps in the Rolex Complex. “I drifted to the side slightly before the obstacle. It was simply bad luck,” Klimke said. “The rest was really easy.”
Britain’s Laura Collett finished third on Rayef, with William Fox-Pitt, who currently heads the HSBC Rider Rankings, was sixth on Neuf des Coeurs, and Francis Whittington was 12th on Sir Percival lll.
Germany won the Nations Cup with an overall score of 136.40 minus points, ahead of Great Britain (141.00) and Sweden (176.80).
Results – Individual CICO3*:
1 Christopher Burton (AUS) Underdiscussion 38.8 penalty points
2 Michael Jung (GER) La Biosthetique-Sam FBW 40.6
3 Laura Collett (GBR) Rayef 40.6
4 Sandra Auffarth (GER) Opgun Louvo 41.6
5 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) Nereo (owned by Deborah Sellar) 43.6