Michael Jung retains Badminton Horse Trials lead after cross-country

Michael Jung retains his lead at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials after a fantastic day of cross-country riding.

Germany’s Olympic, world and European champion had just one worrying moment on the course. La Biosthetique-Sam FBW didn’t jump cleanly into the Lake and Michael look a moment to gather his reins and direct him towards the skinny brushes. But while some notable others — including Zara Phillips’ High Kingdom — ran past, Sam simply locked on and popped over.

“It was a really good round today,” said Michael. “We had a little bad situation in the first water, but Sam managed this situation perfectly, concentrating on the next fence directly.

“It is amazing when you are galloping on the course. There are so many people there they almost lift you over the fences.”

Staying on his dressage score of 36pen, Michael leads New Zealand’s Jock Paget by 3.7pen going into tomorrow’s showjumping. Jock was one of 23 riders to go clear inside the optimum time of 11min 13sec.

Clifton Promise always starts up a little bit strong, a little bit nervous,” he explained. “I try to keep a lid on him, but he did get tired in the last couple of minutes.”

As predicted by Dirk Schrade after the dressage, problems were shared around the course, and Clifton Promise was one of a number of horses to jump too boldly up the first step at the Savills’ Staircase, making the distance to the second difficult, but other than that the pair looked to be on rails throughout.

William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk at Badminton Horse Trials 2013William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson remain close enough to leap in and claim themselves a Rolex Grand Slam title, should the top two make a mistake. Parklane Hawk (pictured right) is just four penalties behind Michael Jung, with Nereo 0.2pen further in arrears. Should Sam have a fence down in the showjumping and Parklane Hawk jump clear, William could win courtesy of his cross-country time being closer to the optimum.

When asked if his decision to take the long route at HSBC Market Square on his second ride, after his first horse Oslo glanced off the final element, was to ensure he came in as close as possible to the optimum and improve his chances of a Grand Slam win, William gave a wry smile.

“I’d like to claim I did, but no. I’ve got to rely on these two guys to make mistakes tomorrow – this guy doesn’t make many of those [pointing at Michael].”

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Badminton Horse Trials cross-country eliminations

Seven riders were eliminated on the cross-country: six for falls plus Mary King, who was pulled up on Kings Temptress for jumping the wrong side of the flag at the corner in the Rodney Powell Products Farmyard and carrying on round the course without rectifying her mistake.

Ben Hobday fell at the same corner, when Gun A B Good jumped to the left, running into the back rail, while Peter Hannigan’s First Mate landed hard on the back rail of the World Horse Welfare Footbridge.

Bettina Hoy and Jaroslav Hatla both fell at the final element of Huntsman’s Close, when their horses caught a leg. Lanfranco TSF lost his footing, landing on Bettina, but both were back on their feet shortly after.

Susanna Bordone of Italy fell jumping into the Shogun Hollow and was briefly knocked out, but is understood to be fine. Her horse Blue Moss did not fall. And Jamie Atkinson had a difference of opinion with Celtic Fortune at the Mirage Pond, where they parted company.

  •  For full fence-by-fence analysis of the Badminton course, including discussion on whether the course was too soft, as claimed by Mark Todd, see next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine (on sale 9 May)