A sell-out crowd watched Michael Jung seal victory after a clear round at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials on La Biosthetique Sam FBW, while also nailing the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam.
Jung is the first German to win the 67-year-old event and, in the process, has become only the second winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, after Pippa Funnell in 2003. Having won both the 2015 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials and the 2016 Rolex Kentucky, Jung is now the new Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing Champion, receiving a Rolex watch, the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing trophy and the USD$350,000 Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing prize.
The top four riders after cross-country all went clear in a tense final jumping phase, but Jung was the clear winner by a huge nine-penalty margin, and his final score of 34.4 was the lowest in Badminton history.
Jung is now also the clear leader in the FEI Classics series, with Badminton the fourth leg.
Fellow German rider Andreas Ostholt scored a career best in second place on the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding So Is Et and said: “It’s like a win for me. My only expectation after two unlucky times at Badminton was to finish in a good way, so this is much more than I could have wished for.”
Britain’s Gemma Tattersall thrilled the home crowd in third place on the fabulous cross-country horse Arctic Soul and looks to have a good chance of securing a place on the British team at the Olympics.
The New Zealanders showed what a force they will be in Rio. Mark Todd was a popular fourth on Leonidas ll and Badminton first-timer Clarke Johnstone’s journey from New Zealand paid off with fifth place on Balmoral Sensation – he is now second, behind Jung, in the FEI Classics 2015/2016.
Jock Paget was sixth on Clifton Lush, Jonelle Price 10th on Classic Moet and Blyth Tait, riding at his first Badminton for 13 years, 13th with a double clear on Bear Necessity V.
The British selectors also have interesting choices to make. Kristina Cook (GBR), a medalist in Beijing and London, has three horses qualified for Rio and, although Star Witness, on whom she finished eventual seventh at Badminton, is considered the weakest in the dressage phase, he rose 35 places as the fastest horse across country and jumped a double clear. Ireland’s Camilla Spiers and Portersize Just A Jiff also rose dramatically from their dressage place of 45th into ninth overall.
Izzy Taylor, a great-niece of the 1962 Badminton winner Anneli Drummond-Hay, could also be going to her first Olympics after finishing eighth on the CCI4* first-timer Allercombe Ellie, the highest-placed mare.
The French, who had such a good day on the cross-country, fared less well in the Jumping. Astier Nicolas (Quickly du Buguet), Gwendolen Fer (Romantic Love) and Jean Teulere (Matelot du Grand Val) each hit two fences to drop to 14th, 16th and 17th places respectively.
Libby Head was the only US rider to complete the weekend, aboard her own Sir Rockstar. They finished in 31st place after they leapt 40 slots up the leaderboard after the cross-country Saturday. At 18, thoroughbred gelding “Rocky” was the oldest and smallest equine competitor of the weekend. They finished the weekend as the highest placed Under-25 combination.
Worryingly for everyone, Michael Jung joked that he was not ready to retire Sam yet. “He was like a three-year-old this morning and I like to think that Tokyo (the 2020 Olympics) might be his retirement event!”
Jung, 33, is the first rider in history to hold Olympic, World and European titles simultaneously and was the first to win four championship titles consecutively. He 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 (FRA), all on La Biosthetique Sam FBW.
The pair went on to win the world title in Kentucky (USA) in 2010, double European gold in Luhmühlen in 2011 and double Olympic gold in London (GBR) in 2012. In 2013, they were second at Badminton CCI4*; last year they finished third at Kentucky (USA) and now they have added the Burghley and Badminton CCI4* titles to their collection. Jung has also won Kentucky twice in succession on FischerRocana FST.
Jung has equaled Ginny Elliot’s record of three European titles on three different horses: in 2011 on La Biosthetique Sam FBW, in 2013 on Halunke and in 2015 on FischerTakinou. He also won world team gold and individual silver medals on FischerRocana FST in 2014. He lives in Horb, Germany, where his parents, Joachim and Bridgette, own a riding establishment.
La Biosthetique Sam FBW is a 16-year-old by Stan The Man out of a Heraldik mare. He is owned by the Jung family, Erich Single and DOKR.
• The Glentrool Trophy – awarded to the combination who make the most improvement on their dressage position – was presented to Beanie Sturgis, who climbed 48 places from equal 59th to 11th with the talented, but often notorious Lebowski.
‘Rotter’, as Lebowski is known at home, is a prolific bucker, and has dispatched some notable scalps in his time, including Pippa Funnell (three times) and Daisy Berkeley.
“But he has managed to keep a lid on it this week,” Sturgis said. “He just loves coming to Badminton; he’s been on springs.”
Sturgis also collected the Cotswold Life trophy for the best local rider.
Images below © Mike Bain
1 Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER) 34.4 + 0 + 0 = 34.4 penalties
2 Andreas Ostholt/So Is Et (GER) 38.2 + 5.2 + 0 = 43.4
3 Gemma Tattersall/Arctic Soul (GBR) 44.6 + 0 + 0 = 44.6
4 Sir Mark Todd/Leonidas ll (NZL) 44.8 + 0 + 0 = 44.8
5 Clarke Johnstone/Balmoral Sensation (NZL) 40.8 + 4.8 + 0 = 45.6
6 Jock Paget/Clifton Lush (NZL) 45.2 + 0 + 4 = 49.2
7 Kristina Cook/Star Witness (GBR) 49.7 + 0 + 0 = 49.7
8 Izzy Taylor/Allercombe Ellie (GBR) 40.4 + 6.0 + 4 = 50.4
9 Camilla Speirs/Portersize Just A Jiff (IRL) 49.9 + 0.8 + 0 = 50.7
10 Jonelle Price/Classic Moet (NZL) 47.3 + 0 + 4 = 51.3
FEI Classics 2015/2016 Leaderboard (after 4 of 6 events)
1 Michael Jung (GER) 42 points
2 Clarke Johnstone (NZL) 16
3 Astier Nicolas (FRA) 15
4 Shane Rose (AUS) 15
5 Sir Mark Todd (NZL) 13
6 Andreas Ostholt (GER) 12
7 Lauren Kieffer (USA) 12
8 Gemma Tattersall (GBR) 10
9 Maya Black (USA) 10
10 Tim Price (NZL) 10