Last week, Germany’s Michael Jung triumphed in the American CCI4*, Rolex Kentucky, setting himself up to win the Rolex Grand Slam — the $350,000 (£240,000) bonus on offer to any eventer who can win the world’s three premier four-stars consecutively — if he can also take Badminton next week.
Michael had a winning margin of 13.3 penalties over the rest of the field, meaning he could have had three more showjumps down and still won the competition.
Watch these videos to find out why Michael is so dominant…
Michael and FischerRocana FST, an 11-year-old mare owned by his parents Brigitte and Joachim Jung, set the standard from the very first phase. Drawn to perform on the first day of dressage, their relaxed, soft test was rewarded with 34.4 penalties from the ground jury of Germany’s Ernst Topp (president), Britain’s Sandy Phillips and New Zealand’s Andrew Bennie.
Only one other pair, the home side’s Allison Springer and Arthur, managed to score less than 40 penalties. Her 39.7 meant that the German pair were already 5.3 penalties ahead of their nearest challengers.
Persistent rain increased the level of difficulty on Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course and meant the 11 minute 15 second optimum time became impossible, even for Michael. But he and “Roxie” came the closest to beating the clocking, finishing just two seconds over to add 0.8 of a penalty to their score. The next fastest competitors were seven seconds outside the target.
Allison Springer had a run-out and Michael increased his lead to 12.3 penalties, with the USA’s Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive holding second at this point.
Richard Jeffery’s final phase course proved a tough challenge for the horses, tired by the wet ground on the previous day’s cross-country. Only seven managed jumping clears and three of these had time-faults.
Michael couldn’t quite pull off a perfect end to his competition, with one rail falling in the double. But such was his supremacy that he had held 17.3 penalties in hand entering the ring, so it really didn’t matter.
Lauren Kieffer’s single time-fault elevated her from sixth overnight to second with Veronica, while her compatriot Phillip dropped to 13th with a cricket score on Fernhill Fugitive. He did have two top-10 finishes as he took fourth on Mighty Nice and fifth on Fernhill Cubalawn.
We look forward to seeing what Michael can do this week at Badminton with his reigning Olympic champion, La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.