Can Michael Jung set a new world record? German superstar on track for historic Kentucky victory

  • Michael Jung retains his lead after the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country and could set a new five-star record finishing score tomorrow if he showjumps clear.

    The German multi-medal winner enjoyed a virtually foot-perfect round today over Derek di Grazia’s course, cruising in 11sec under the 11min 4sec optimum time.

    It was a first five-star for FischerChipmunk FRH – who belongs to Klaus and Sabine Fischer, Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff and the Germany Olympic committee for equestrian sport – but the 14-year-old has plenty of experience, including European individual silver and team gold in 2019 and a top-10 finish at the Tokyo Olympics, where a broken frangible device put paid to individual gold hopes.

    After his round today, Michael said: “Chipmunk was amazing. He was so powerful, galloping like a machine, jumping everything. It was 11 minutes of fun.

    “I had a great rhythm and although I respected every fence because it was his first five-star, and took a bit of time at the last combination and in the last water, he’s fast enough on the gallop tracks that I could take that time at the fences.”

    Michael also paid tribute to the Fischer Group for helping to keep the horse in Germany when it looked like he’d be sold abroad. Chipmunk was produced by Michael’s team-mate Julia Krajewski, who rode him at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, before Michael took over in 2019.

    Michael sits on a score of 20.1, which, if he can stay on it tomorrow, would best Laura Collett’s score of 21.3 from Pau 2020 as the best ever five-star finishing score.

    He has two fences in hand over second-placed Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg and only once since 2008 has a leader with such a margin not gone on to win at five-star.

    “My fellow was a champ,” said Boyd after his fault-free round. “He’s not the fanciest or most talented horse, but he’s got a heart of gold. His best attribute is how hard he tries and across country he’ll do everything he can to please me.

    “Last year I tipped him over right at end of course. It was my mistake – I felt I was home and hosed and all of a sudden I was looking up at stars. Today he was giving me a great trip, but I wanted to stay focused right to the finish.”

    Britain’s Yasmin Ingham holds third on Banzai Du Loir.

    Kentucky Three-Day Event cross-country course analysis

    Twenty-four of the 43 starters (55.8%) put in jumping clears, but there were only three clears in the time, which came from Michael, Boyd and Phillip Dutton, who moved up from equal 31st after dressage to seventh on Sea Of Clouds.

    Two fences proved particularly influential, catching out five combinations apiece. The first of these was the Park Question at fence 7abc – the sort of fence which used to be described as a coffin – where horses jumped a set of rails, ran down a steep slope, popped a ditch and then powered back up to an angled hedge.

    Jonelle Price was among those who fell foul of this combination, saying she knew this might be the “coffin of doom” for McClaren as he doesn’t like open ditches. She had 20 penalties at element b, but aside from that was pleased with McClaren, who finished with 13.2 time-penalties.

    “It’s a step up from the five-star at Pau which he did last year and I wasn’t sure how genuine he’d be so I had to make sure of the fences, but he ticked a lot of boxes,” she said.

    The last water, the Cosequin Cove (fence 23abc), also caused faults for five pairs. Here horses jumped a hedge into the water, then on exiting the pond made a sharp left-handed turn to two angled skinny brushes, which most tackled on a one-stride distance though a few horses chipped in two.

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