Michael Jung and his own, Bridgitte, and Joachim Jung’s FischerRocana FST (Ituango XX x Rose II) emerged at the top of the leaderboard following cross-country at the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. The three-time winner added just a single time penalty to his dressage score to take back the lead on an overnight score of 27.5.
“I’m very happy about FischerRocana, but first I have to say also that we had a really good course, a really nice course – I liked it,” said Jung. “Also, the gallop track changed from the last year, and my feeling was much better. For FischerRocana, she was really wonderful to ride, nice galloping. She gave me a really good feeling around [the course.]”
Watch Michael Jung and FischerRocana's leading cross-country round, courtesy of the USEF Network.
“I had a really fantastic ride,” Jung said of his trip aboard the 13-year-old German Sport Horse mare. “FischerRocana was really powerful, I had a great feeling from the start. From the first fence, after the other fence, she galloped nice. She was in a very good condition. On jump 18, on the water, I would like to do four strides and I then I missed this. In the end, I trust what she’s doing. I just tried to keep her straight in front of the fence and she tried to not really jump but go over. I think in the end this is what you need in a partnership, that the other one is also fighting for you, and she was really fighting for me in this situation, and that makes me proud. She also never gave up, she had every chance to do a stop or a runout, but she fights for me, and it was perfect. We lost a few seconds there. We were always good in the time up to there, but then we have to go really fast after that. It’s nice to feel when the horse really fights for you, gallops fast, and jumps well. [It’s] just also good when you feel that the horse had such great fun in a top course like this.”
Although Jung and FischerRocana seem poised to take an unprecedented fourth title at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, they still have to show jump clean tomorrow to bring home the win. “I think we have a lot to do. I have also another friend with me which I have to help. We have to take care of the horses, we have to prepare the vet check, we have to do the vet check. Then I think I will ride my horse a little bit. Also we have to look that we prepare the horse as good as we can, that the horse feel very well and have no muscle pain for example. We have to try to do our best job and see how it works.”
Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 (Nobre XX x Lilli), his own, Sue Lawson and Carolyn Townsend’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, have given Jung and FischerRocana no breathing room tomorrow. The pair galloped fast and clear across the country today to stay on their dressage score of 27.9 overnight, which is good enough for second place just 0.4 points behind the leaders.
“Of course, it’s easy to be happy when you’ve had a good run, isn’t it?” said Burton. “The team and I are delighted; there wouldn’t be anyone in the field today I think that doesn’t think it was a great day of sport. The course designer I think has a lot of feel and it’s a great track.”
“Because we had such good conditions I think we all were able to enjoy it,” Burton commented. “[Nobilis 18] has gotten a bit stiff as he’s gotten older and it’s taking a lot of work to manage him and I was delighted that he came home as well as he did. He’s all heart and he looks for the flags really nicely. I really had a great time out there, I have to say.”
“It’s a lovely park and I was curious when I got here and it was raining, the guys Phillip and Boyd told me it soaks well into the ground, and that’s really good,” Burton remarked when asked about the quality of the footing on course today. “The tough thing about our sport is we can’t control the weather conditions, can we? So, it’s nice when you have a place like this.”
Oliver Townend sits third and tied for fourth respectively with Angela Hislop’s Cooley Master Class (Ramiro B x The Swallow) and Tom Joule’s MHS King Joules (Ghareeb x Gowran Lady). Both 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse geldings jumped clean and inside the time around Derek di Grazia’s course this afternoon to remain on their dressage scores of 28.7 and 31.3.
“[It’s] an unbelievable track,” commented Townend of the day’s course. “The man Derek is one of the best course designers in the world, if not the best, at the moment. The ground was fantastic and the course was fantastic but with a huge amount of feel and empathy for the horses. But [it was] still a serious four-star and a proper test.”
“I had two very different rides with my horses. King Joules is notoriously strong, which is possibly why I’ve got the ride. Andrew Nicholson rode him before and Mary King before that and then Andrew obviously had his injury and he was sadly the first one to get turfed out. But there’s no question that [King Joules has] got a huge amount of talent and a huge amount of gallop and ability’s definitely no problem. Trying to stop him, or trying even to slow him down sometimes is quite a problem. I got basically run off with for 11 minutes on the first one but he was exceptionally honest and put himself between the flags and basically I muddled around saying, ‘woah, woah,’ and just steering.”
“The second ride was completely different,” continued Townend, speaking of his second ride of the day aboard Cooley Master Class. “It’s his first time at this level and I couldn’t be happier with him. Not quite as confident, not quite so used to the grounds and was holding his breath a little bit. I was basically being run away with on the first one and squeezing all the way on the second one, but he grew in confidence as he went and I think that is a very good sign from a course designing point of view. He felt sticky and you thought to yourself, ‘My god, he doesn’t feel like he’s going great at the minute,’ he’s looking about, he had his ears pricked all the way and as the round progressed his confidence grew and he started to get better and better as he went. [He] never didn’t prick his ears so I thought that was a good sign. Again, he’s had very little preparation due to the horrifically crap spring that we’ve had in England, so I couldn’t be happier with both horses.”
Townend acknowledged that there is still work to be done tomorrow. “[This is] one of the biggest three-day events in the world. It’s like trying to jump a round of show jumps after taking a horse around the Grand National. Good jumpers can have fences down and bad jumpers can scrape clears. Obviously I think all three of us will probably be trying to jump a clear round tomorrow. We shall see!”
Lynn Symansky and The Donner Syndicate’s 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Donner (Gorky Park x Smart Jane) are the top-placed pair representing the United States after clocking a double-clean round to sit tied for fourth place with Townend and MHS King Joules on their dressage score of 31.3.
“I don’t have many complaints on my horse today,” said Symansky. “He takes a little bit to get into the groove of a course, especially with a crowd, so I would say probably his hairiest moment was at the corner after the coffin at 6. After that, honestly you don’t say that a lot, going around a track like this, but it was pretty boring. It was like clockwork and I think that’s just a tribute to knowing the horse so well and having such a great partnership with him. I mean, he tried his heart out. He was very efficient and at the end [I was] really able to let up because I was ahead of the minutes. I thought it was a great track, it rode according to plan and I was really happy with how he came home. This is his ninth four-star and he’s a little bit older, he’s 15 [years old] this year so I think it’s actually a little bit easier on him, knowing the horse so well and not having to ride quite as hard as we did a few years ago. I was really happy.”
As to the pressure of being the top-ranked American rider on the leaderboard? Symansky said she’s just going to go out and do the job like it’s a normal day at the office. “I think we’ve been battling for years to try and defend our home turf. I think these boys all have a very good chance of taking the throne once again. But it’s nice, as much as we don’t like losing on our home turf, we really welcome the international contingent and it’s really nice to have more competition come over here.”
“[Donner] was very late in the day and he came home well so we’ll take care of him tonight and give him a good go tomorrow,” Symansky concluded. “I’m actually more nervous about surviving the jog than I am about than I am about show jumping!”
The final horse inspection will take place tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. on the High Hope Inspection Lane. Show jumping will take place in reverse order of standing beginning at 1:00 p.m.
The USEA Event College is in Session
The USEA Event College was created by the USEA and the Professional Horseman’s Council to generate awareness of the sport of eventing. The Event College aims to educate spectators, interested parties and the general public on the goals and function of each phase (dressage, cross-country and show jumping) and the complexity and value of the sport. The Event College also aims to educate young riders, adult amateurs, and all those interested in the sport on horsemanship and different skill sets needed to be involved with eventing. High-profile eventing experts will act as “professors” and host casual, interactive dialogue with “students” of the Event College. Anyone interested in the sport of eventing can be a student, and “tuition” is free!
Miss any of the videos? Catch up with them here:
Lynn Symansky on Fitness Routines for a CCI4* Horse
Caroline Martin Discusses Bits
Elinor MacPhail O'Neal on Fighting Nerves at a CCI4*
Tamra Smith Previews the Head of the Lake
EquiRatings Predictions for Cross-Country Day
Phillip Dutton Explains How to Make the Optimum Time on Cross-Country
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