In the afternoon session of the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, plenty of combinations have gone into the top 10, but none could topple Michael Jung from top spot.
The German sits 4.1 penalties clear of the rest of the field, riding La Biosthetique – Sam FBW, who won here in 2015.
“When Sam was younger he was hard work and not always easy on the flat — and we’ve learnt together how to make it easier for us in the atmosphere,” said the German. “Now I know how to prepare him — for example travelling him in a big space of the horse box — to help keep him relaxed. The very little things are important.”
Best of the British contingent is Gemma Tattersall who scored a personal best at four-star level, 43, riding her faithful four-star campaigner Arctic Soul.
“I’m beyond chuffed,” beamed Gemma. “He stayed relaxed, trusted me, let me place him and ride him — it was such a lovely feeling. We’ve been gunning for this score for a while, and it has been a case of replicating the good work he does at home to the competition arena — he’s very shy of the crowds.”
American first-timer, Mackenna Shea, holds third place on 46.1 with the flashy Landioso. The pair came over to the UK earlier in the season, but Landioso suffered from shipping fever (similar to pneumonia) after his trip. Mackenna has still managed to squeeze in a handful of events in her preparation for Burghley.
“I was really happy with most of my trot work, but flying-changes are something that haunt me,” said the 24-year-old, referring to some lost marks in mistakes in this movement. “Burghley feels like a big step up from Kentucky and you never know how fit your horse is until you’re out there, but fingers crossed.”
Australia’s Paul Tapner is fourth on Bonza King Of Rouges (46.2), Georgie Spence is the next best-placed Brit in fifth with Wii Limbo on 46.4, and Tim Price is sixth with Xavier Faer on 46.5.
The dressage continues tomorrow (Friday 1 September) at 10am.