GERMANY’s Michael Jung set a new record at five-star level when delivering a flawless performance in all three phases with fischerChipmunk FRH to win the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event on 20.1, the lowest winning score ever achieved in a CCI5*-L.

It was his fourth time winning the event; only Bruce Davidson has won it more times (five), while the win brought his five-star tally to 11, which ties him with Mark Todd. Only legendary British event rider William Fox-Pitt has more, with 14.

There was very little pressure on Jung when he entered the show jumping arena as last to go as he had 11 points to spare over Britain’s Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir who were second on 31.7.

USA’s Doug Payne and Quantum Leap finished third on 38.4 and, as the highest-placed American, he also took home the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L National Championship presented by Mars Equestrian, in front of a crowd of 22,185. Ireland’s Joseph Murphy finished in ninth place on 45.2 with Calmaro.

A delighted Jung said afterwards: “I had a really great feeling in the warm-up, and it makes you a bit more relaxed, but the pressure is on and it was like a test for (the world championships later this year), so I tried to stay really concentrated and focused with this horse. He’s amazing…I was able to enjoy every phase through this competition.”

It was a welcome victory for the 14-year-old Hanoverian fischerChipmunk FRH who had bad luck at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games when a frangible pin ruled him out of medal contention. He was ridden at the 2018 World Equestrian Games by Jung’s compatriot Julia Krajewski before Sabine and Klaus Fischer, Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff and DOKR came together to purchase the horse for Jung to ride, and to keep him available for the German team.

“It’s a very special moment for me, and I have to give thanks for my whole team in the background - helping train the horses and bring the horses to this level. And big thanks to the fischer group so that we can keep this horse in Germany and make it so that I’m allowed to ride such an amazing horse.”

Yasmin Ingham (24) was the youngest competitor in the five-star and it was a debut at the level for the 11-year-old Banzai Du Loir. The pair were fourth after dressage (28.1) and picked up just 2.8 time penalties across the country plus 0.8 time in show jumping.

“If someone told me I’d be sitting here and in second place to (Michael Jung), I wouldn’t have believed it,” Ingham said. “I have to thank everyone involved with Banzai, he is so special and really deserves this result. Our whole team, we couldn’t do this without them.”

The chesnut Selle Francais gelding is owned by Janette Chinn and Sue Davies, and was contesting his first five-star. Ingham is also relatively new to the level, with only two under her belt prior to the weekend.

“He has exceeded all expectations,” Ingham added. “I have all the confidence in this horse. He was very professional all weekend, and it was amazing to pull it together for all three phases at such an incredible event. It was tough to get to the flights and with all the travelling, but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.”

Early lead

After the dressage phase concluded, Jung held the lead (20.1) over Britain’s Sarah Bullimore with her home-bred Corouet (25.7) in second and USA’s Bruce Davidson Jnr and Carlevo (27.4) in third.

Just three combinations managed to go clear inside the time around Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course, while only 24 of the 45 starters managed to finish without jumping penalties. The faults were spread around the course, but the coffin combination at number 7, the Park Question, was the most influential combination of the day.

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

USA’s Boyd Martin moved up to second place, from sixth, when he was clear inside the time with his long-time partner, the black Trakehner gelding Tsetserleg TSF who moved up to second from sixth after dressage.

The final pair to come home double clear was USA’s Phillip Dutton on Sea of Clouds, the thoroughbred gelding showing off his gallop to rocket up the standings from 31st to seventh place.

Ingham moved up one place to third and was relieved to finish with just 2.8 time penalties. “The coffin came up early and he was a bit green, but once it was behind him he powered on,” she said.

“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.”

Joseph Murphy rose from 17th to 11th when he crossed the finish line with 9.6 time penalties to set him up for a top-10 finish on the final day with Calmaro.

Change of podium

The show jumping course on the final day, designed by Steve Stephens, garnered only six clear rounds, with an additional four pairs leaving the rails up and coming home with only time penalties.

Murphy was one of the six with his own, Claire Mayne and Annette O’Callaghan’s 11-year-old Carpalano-sired grey gelding who joined his string in 2020 from Britain’s Laura Collett.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “It’s pretty amazing. To come all the way here to Kentucky and to produce a result like that was fantastic. I had to really dig deep in the cross-country [when they were held up for a period on course]. Things didn’t really go my way at the beginning of the course but it was a long way to come to have a problem so we just kept digging and we made it happen.

“The final show jumping was just outstanding, what a horse and what a bunch of owners I have and the support I had here from Horse Sport Ireland. Many thanks to everyone who supported me, all the messages on the phone – we got the result we came for.”

Boyd Martin dropped to fourth place when Tsetserleg lowered two fences which opened the door for Ingham to slot into second place when clear over the fences, adding just 0.8 for time. Doug Payne rose from fifth to third with a clear aboard Quantum Leap.

Also clear was Britain’s Pippa Funnell to finish sixth with Maybach, and USA’s William Coleman in seventh.

In the Dubarry of Ireland Team Challenge, the combined Germany/Ireland/New Zealand team of Michael Jung, Joseph Murphy and Jonelle Price won with a score of 133.5 over Britain’s team of Yasmin Ingham, Pippa Funnell, Sarah Bullimore and Leslie Law with a score of 141.2.0 and USA’s team of Boyd Martin, William Coleman, Doug Payne, and Tamra Smith with a score of 166.3.