Has anyone else ever been as dominant in eventing as Michael Jung is now? Thus far, he’s won 3 individual gold medals and he looks almost certain to gather in a 4th today at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships in Malmö, Sweden.
The only person I can think of through history whose strength was similar was Ginny Elliot, who was European champion in 1985 (Priceless), 1987 (Night Cap) and 1989 (Master Craftsman). She also won the Gawler World Championships in 1986 (Priceless) and the alternative worlds laid on at Bialy Bor because many nations couldn’t travel to Australia (Night Cap). As an aside, she proved her incredible horsepower by winning Burghley that autumn too on Murphy Himself.
Ginny is the only other person in the history of the sport who has won 3 individual golds in a row — the fact no one else has held the world, European and Olympic titles simultaneously until Michael speaks for itself. If Michael wins tomorrow, he becomes the first eventer to extend that run of individual golds to 4.
William Fox-Pitt’s missing honour
Championships are funny things, sport is a funny thing. So while some riders win individual gold after gold, others are fantastically successful without winning one at all.
More than any other rider in the decade I’ve been an equestrian journalist (today’s the anniversary), William Fox-Pitt has consistently had a fabulous team of horses and shown unrelenting good form. He’s won more than 50 three-day events, a record which no one else comes close to equalling.
Missing from William’s amazing record is, of course, an individual gold medal. How I’d love him to fill that gap before he retires, whenever that might be — to set the record straight, if you like. If he never puts his name on the European, world or Olympic roll of honour it will be an omission that just feels wrong.
I don’t think he’s going to pick up that shiniest of gongs today. Michael Jung has to have 3 fences down to give William victory — assuming he and Chilli Morning go clear — and I don’t see that happening. But that’s a prediction I’d be more than happy to have proved wrong.
Log back on later for a final update from the European Championships and don’t miss next week’s H&H for our full 10-page special report, including full analysis and comments from ground jury member Christian Landolt, British team rider Tina Cook and former European champion Ian Stark.