Michael Jung made the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials cross-country track look like a walk in the park and lead the way at the halfway point.
Riding La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, the German combination are the only ones to go inside the optimum time of 11min 34sec at this point, finishing with two seconds to spare.
“Sam is an amazing horse. I was nervous about how everything would work but he is so trusting in me,” said Michael. “He was strong at the start, but settled after The Lake at fence eight. He was a bit tired after fence 21, but I said ‘come on’ and at the end he felt as fresh as he did in the first minute of the course.”
Michael currently sits 17 penalties clear of his nearest rival.
Third out on course was Alex Bragg who was equal best Brit after the dressage, lying in 18th place. He put in a lovely round riding Zagreb to finish clear, with 12.4 time-faults, and they lie in second at the moment.
“It’s hard work out there, but halfway round I thought to myself ‘this is going well’. My horse helped me out and we know each other so well as I’ve had him since he was a youngster,” said Alex, who used to play professional rugby and is a farrier. “It’s mentally hard for the rider as there is so much to think about, but I’m thrilled and he finished well.”
Third place is currently held by Mark Todd and Leonidas II, who jumped clear but incurred 15.2 time-faults.
“It’s hard work out there and there’s so much going on for horses to look at,” said Mark.
So far, there have been 17 cross-country completions, with 12 clear rounds. 15 combinations have either retired or been eliminated on course.