Three time Olympic gold medalist Michael Jung (GER) finished today’s cross-country course at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L without fault, maintaining his striding lead going into the final show jumping phase of competition.

The Derek di Grazia designed course put forward a long, galloping track that presented difficult questions from beginning to end. The tight time coupled with the elemental challenges saw even the most seasoned combinations struggle. More than half of the 45 member field collected jumping penalties on their path to the finish.

Jung demonstrated his mastery out of the start box, guiding the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding fischerChipmunk FRH effortlessly through his first five-star course.

“I’m just very proud of my horse. I’m absolutely happy—he is a great horse, he has a lot of talent and super quality to be a top horse. Today in cross county he was so powerful, fast running on the flat, great jumping everywhere and his brain was always with me. It was a great feeling just to enjoy the 11-minutes,” said Jung.

Of course, the pair’s ability to enjoy those 11-minutes is the fruit of a much longer journey of hard work and preparation. Jung, who usually brings up his own mounts, acquired the ride on fischerChipmunk in 2018 from Julia Krajewski. Under Krajewski’s saddle the gelding had already made World Championship and World Equestrian Games appearances. As valuable as prior experience is, developing a synchronistic relationship as a new pair doesn’t happen overnight.

“It takes a little bit of time, but we had a super connection from the beginning. For the top sport you have to build a very good partnership, you have to trust each other and gather a lot of information from everyone. Such as how they react (to elements), how you have to prepare certain fences, how to you prepare the dressage, how the horse is under traveling,” explained Jung.

“Every horse is a bit different, but I have a very good connection with him, I feel very safe, and I think we have a good partnership now.”

Boyd Martin (USA) jumped up the ranks by sporting one of the only three double clear rounds with the 15-year-old Trakehner gelding Tsetserleg TSF.

Allison Pezzack Photo

Martin rose from sixth place to second after his near foot-perfect gallop around the field.

“My guy was great. We’ve got a great partnership and it was smooth sailing for ‘Thomas’ today, and I couldn’t have been happier with him. He’s in a place in his career where he really knows his job, so it’s a just matter of guiding him,” said Martin.

But as they say, rough seas make for better sailors, and Martin explained smooth sailing wasn’t always the case while in the irons with “Thomas.”

“It’s been an interesting ride with ‘Thomas.’ I definitely didn’t think he was any good when he showed up. He’d sort of been through a couple of riders. He was very small and didn’t show much in his training. To be quite honest, he’s not the fanciest or most talented horse, but he’s got a heart of gold and his best attribute is how hard he tries. In cross-country he will do everything he can to please me,” said Martin.

“Today he was giving me a great trip but I really wanted to stay focused all the way to the finish because as we know with five-star eventing and with Derek di Grazia’s course there are tough jumps all the way around.”

Sired by Windfall 2, his exceeded adoration for the gelding is evidenced by his program today. Martin is currently training up a few more Windfall babies, hopeful for another like “Thomas” in the future.

In a successful first trip to the Kentucky Horse Park, 25-year-old Yasmin Ingham (GBR) is now sitting in third position overall with 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding Banzai Du Loir.

Allison Pezzack Photo

It was the gelding’s first five-star appearance, putting together a respectable performance collecting just 2.8 time penalties.

“I’m delighted with my horse’s first time at this level, he was brilliant at all the combinations. The coffin came up early and he was a bit green, but once it was behind him he powered on. He’s an incredible horse to ride, he has all of what it takes…it’s a dream come true to come here and pull that out of the bag,” said Ingham.

Two horses sustained injuries on course

Fleeceworks Royal, a 13-year-old mare ridden by Tamra Smith (USA), sustained an injury to the left, front foot while on course. The mare was bandaged on-site and transported to the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute where she is said to be comfortable while undergoing further evaluation.

Emporium, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding ridden Ashlynn Meuchel (USA), had an accident at the water complex of the Head of the Lake. “Theo” required anesthetization to be removed from the water. After receiving immediate veterinary attention the gelding was also transported to the Hagyard Equine Medical Insitute.

Meuchel has since posted a positive update on her facebook page:

“Massive thanks to everyone who has checked in. Theo is up and about this evening. Hoping just some faulty equiptment got his legs tangled up in the water.”

Tomorrow’s show jumping schedule:

  • 7:30 a.m. CCI4*-S and CCI5*-L Horse Inspection—High Hope Inspection Lane

Horse Inspections will be streamed live on the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event Facebok Page

  • 11:00 a.m.–12:45 p.m. CCI4*-S Jumping Test—Rolex Stadium
  • 2:30 p.m. CCI5*-L Jumping Test first group—Rolex Stadium
  • 3:30–3:45 p.m. Arena Drag
  • 3:45 p.m. CCI5*-L Jumping Test second group—Rolex Stadium
  • 4:45 p.m. Awards Presentation

Show jumping will be streamed for free on USEF Network

Feature Image Credit: Allison Pezzack Photo