While the Badminton cross-country course sorted out the men from the boys today at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials one rider remained in a league of his own.
Dressage leader Michael Jung skipped round the tricky track to finish clear within the time with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. With few managing to emulate his feat he has a clear 9pen lead over his nearest rival.
Michael and Sam are pretty formidable in the showjumping phase and with two showjumps in hand tomorrow he can almost be certain of taking home the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing bonus cheque.
The pair have already claimed European, Olympic and World titles and today their experience showed round Giuseppe Della Chiesa’s course. “I know Sam from many years from many tough competitions together ” said Michael. “He’s experienced he always trusts me and he gave me a good feeling.”
Only one third of today’s field posted clear rounds with just 10 going within the time. But Michael made it look positively straightforward. “For me and my horse it was easy going ” he said. “We were lucky with the weather and the ground felt great. The course designer did a very good job.”
Germany on target
With Michael poised to lift the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy for the first time – which would make him the first ever German winner of Badminton – his compatriot Andreas Ostholt has moved back up to second place.
Time penalties added 5.2pen to Andreas’ dressage score but a good clear with So Is Et secured his place behind Michael Jung.
“I had a scary moment at Vicarage Vee and I was thinking ‘Not today not today!’ But I managed to stay on even though I’m getting older!” he joked afterwards.
Gemma is best Brit
Gemma Tattersall leapt from 16th place to third after a super clear cross-country round on the ex-racehorse Arctic Soul.
“He is a full Thoroughbred and a complete machine ” said Gemma. “We went out the start box like a shotgun and for the first three fences it was like being at Cheltenham. He flew up the hill at the end and finished really full of himself.”
The KBIS Vicarage Vee became the bogey fence of the day but Gemma made it look like a cross-pole. “Everyone kept asking if I’d go straight at the Vicarage Vee and I kept asking why? He’s jumped it before and he never looks down.”
Gemma was the 12th to last rider to tackle the track but managed to maintain her nerve during the long wait. “I watched Michael Jung go round and thought that’s how I want to do it ” she added. “I kept trying to focus on the cross-country and got the job done.
New Zealand challenge
Mark Todd (Leonidas II) Jock Paget (Clifton Lush) and Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation) hold fourth fifth and sixth place respectively.
France’s Astier Nicolas is sixth with Oliver Townend (Armada) and Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) the only other Brits in the top 10.
With less than one showjump separating the second placed rider from the 11th it’s incredibly tight at the top end of the leaderboard and plenty could change after tomorrow’s showjumping phase. But at the very top surely only disaster could prevent Michael Jung from taking the top prize at Badminton.
For full results click here.