Germany’s Michael Jung has claimed the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event after jumping clear in the showjumping round aboard Fischerrocana FST.
The combination were lying third after the cross country, but their fault-free showjumping round saw them finish the competition on 39.3 points, edging out New Zealand’s Tim Price and Wesko, who incurred a fault at the 10th fence to finish on 40.3.
Price was leading going into the showjumping round.
Fischerrocana, 10, showjumped first of the three top-placed horses, and she put the pressure on her rivals by completing a faultless round. When Jung returned 14 horses later on 15-year-old Sam, he lowered fences 8C and 10 to finish on 44.7.
Then Price and Wesko, the next out also lowered fence 10, and he settled for second place and $44,000. Jung also earned $36,000 for third place.
With 23,000 fans screaming and the difference between first and second places being $56,000, Price said he tried not to think about what was on the line as he cantered toward the start of the course designed by Richard Jeffery.
“You just kind of put that to one side and think of what you want to concentrate on in the ring. My horse is really good in the ring, and I think the crowd really did help me,” said Price, 36.
“I came down after the triple bar [fence 9] and rode a slightly bad line to fence 10, which I think was about the same as Michael did.”
Jung took third spot with his other mount, La Biosthetique – Sam FBW. The combination were lying second after the showjumping, but downed two fences to finish on 44.7.
Britain’s William Fox-Pitt on Bay My Hero finished fourth, on 46.9, with Americans filling the next three spot – Phillip Dutton on Fernhill Cubalawn, William Coleman on Obos O’Reilly, and Boyd Martin on Master Frisky.
Jung said that the he felt more pressure from himself than from the atmosphere. And he thought he was too relaxed on Sam.
“I think you always have pressure on yourself whenever you compete. This is why you train at home and why you’re always thinking about how you can do better,” he said.
“After my first round I was maybe a little bit more relaxed, but then I was a little bit too fast to the triple combination. Fischerrocana needs more gallop and more speed to the fences, and I didn’t concentrate enough on how to ride Sam, because he wasn’t the only horse I was riding here.”
Fischerrocana is a 10-year-old mare by Ituango XX owned by Jung’s parents, Joachim and Bridgitte.
Phillip Dutton had to withdraw Mighty Nice, seventh after cross-country, but a clear on Fernhill Cubalawn elevated him four places to fifth. Dutton was also ninth on Fernhill Fugitive.
His former pupil Boyd Martin was seventh on Master Frisky, having dropped a place with eight faults, and Britain’s Nicola Wilson on the Irish-bred mare Annie Clover moved up three places to eighth with a penalty-free round.The sole Australian in the field, Bill Levett, slipped five places to 10th on Improvise with an unfortunate 12 faults.
By placing fifth (54.1), Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Cubalawn won the 2015 US Equestrian Federation CCI4* Eventing Championship. It was Dutton’s fourth victory in this championship.
Dutton got there with a faultless show jumping round on Fernhill Cubalawn, passing William Coleman, on Obos O’Reiily, and Boyd Martin, on Master Frisky, after they lowered rails, to finish sixth and seventh. Dutton also finished ninth on Fernhill Fugitive.
“Yes, I’m excited about their future,” said Dutton of his two top-10 horses. “They’re both young-ish horses. They both improved and matured this weekend.”
Earlier in the day, Dutton withdrew Mighty Nice, who had been standing seventh after cross-country, because of a stifle injury.
Jung, 32, had only ridden at the Kentucky Horse Park once before, when he won the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Sam. He then won the Olympics on Sam two years later, but Sam suffered a slight injury before the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France, so he rode Fischerrocana to the individual silver medal and the team gold medal there. But he said that Fischerrocana hasn’t replaced Sam as his No. 1 horse.
“Sam is a good friend. I think no horse is better than him. Sam is my favorite. With Sam, I win every title. He’s a very special horse,” Jung said.
“But Fischerrocana is also a top horse. She will do everything great and correct. She knows the job she has to do. Every competition gets easier with her, and I think that’s really special,” he said.
Price had never competed at Rolex Kentucky before, and when he and Jung were asked if they would return, Price quickly answered that he certainly would and jokingly added that Jung would not.
Jung smiled at Price and said the prizemoney would encourage him to fly to Kentucky again. He added, “The flight is very expensive, and I think we are very nearly on zero right now. But I really enjoy the competition here in Kentucky and hope to return if we can arrange it.”
The combined team of Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland won the Dubarry Nations Team Challenge, scoring 145.6 penalties. The USA was second (250.2), with Great Britain third (1,103.7) and Canada fourth (2,131.9).
The paid attendance on the final day was 23,552, bringing the weekend total to 75,533.
There were nine clear rounds from the 40 finishers.
Jung, 32, was the first rider in history to hold Olympic, World and European titles simultaneously and the first to win four championship titles consecutively.
He first came to prominence in 2009, when he won the Luhmühlen CCI4*, the FEI World Cup Eventing final in Strzegom (POL) and an individual European bronze medal in Fontainebleau, all on La Biosthetique Sam FBW. The pair went on to win the world title in Kentucky in 2010, double European gold in Luhmühlen in 2011 and double Olympic gold in London in 2012 and, in 2013, they were second at Badminton CCI4*.
Jung won a second European title, at Malmö in Sweden in 2013 on Halunke, and last year finished second at Luhmühlen and won world team gold and individual silver medals on FisherRocana FST. He lives at Horb, Germany, where his family owns a riding establishment.
1 Michael Jung/FisherRocana FST (GER) 39.3 + 0 + 0 = 39.3
2 Tim Price/Wesko (NZL) 36.3 + 0 + 4 = 40.3
3 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER) 36.3 + 0.4 + 8 = 44.7
4 William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR) 38.5 + 8.4 + 0 = 46.9
5 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Cubalawn (USA) 50.9 + 3.2 + 4 = 54.1
6 Will Coleman/Obos O’Reilly (USA) 52.6 + 0 + 4 = 56.6
7 Boyd Martin/Master Frisky (USA) 47.0 + 1.6 + 8 = 56.6
8 Nicola Wilson/Annie Clover (GBR) 45.6 + 11.2 + 0 = 56.8
9 Phillip Dutton/Fernhill Fugitive (USA) 47.3 + 12 + 0 = 59.3
10 Bill Levett/Improvise (AUS) 48.6 + 0 + 12 = 60.6