As the day’s third-last starter, Germany’s Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW made the cross-country course look easy at the Eventing World Championships, presented by Reem Acra. The pair added nothing to their dressage penalty score of 33.00, to keep the lead they took yesterday in the dressage phase at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Creeping up behind Jung after equally impressive rounds are Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt on Cool Mountain, finishing on their dressage score of 42.00, and USA’s Becky Holder on Courageous Comet, finishing on 42.50.
Of the 79 horses that started today’s course, 60 finished (75.9%). Some 13 riders, including Jung and Fox-Pitt, finished faster than the ideal time of 11:14 and added nothing to their dressage penalties.
Jung, 28, said his warm-up didn’t go as he’d planned, because of a hold on course. “I was on my horse almost double the time I normally would have been,” said Jung. “The big problem was I just didn’t know when I would start. There was also a really fresh wind that came up, and I didn’t want my horse to get very cool. I wanted to keep him really warm.”
Despite the less-than-ideal preparation, Jung was thrilled with the course and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, 10, whom he has ridden since the gelding was 5 years old.
“Thus was my first championship at the four-star level,” he said. “I think it was a difficult course but a fair one for the horses. One of the big difficulties was there were demanding jumps all over the course, so at every jump you really had to concentrate, and every jump asked a very big effort from your horse, from the first jump until the end.”
Fox-Pitt, 41, agreed that course designer Michael Etherington-Smith had created a proper championship track. “I think in reality no one would have guessed it would cause the trouble it did,” he said. “It looked very imposing, but in many aspects it was a quite straightforward, big, attacking track. For it to cause enough trouble for me to have moved up from 12th to second—I am amazed. I think the last three horses of the day made it look like a canter around the park.”
Holder, 41, said she was up on all her minute markers until she got near the end, but then she became a little conservative trying to make sure she got home “nice and tidy,” adding 3.2 time penalties to her score. She added that she breathed more easily after putting certain parts of the course behind her. “It was certainly a relief to have the coffin and wishing well combination in my rear-view mirror,” she said. “It felt like he went through them easily, and that gave me a great amount of confidence for the rest of the course.”
Jung said that his plan for tonight was to have a drink, enjoy the being in the lead, and go to bed early. He praised his experience at the World Games thus far.
“For me it was always a dream to participate in the world championships, so now being in the lead is more than a dream,” he said. “I would put the saddle on him and ride it again now. I loved it very much.”
Fox-Pitt he said that he too planned to l live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. “I think enjoying the moment is very important,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. In a way I don’t want tomorrow to come. I am quite enjoying the moment now.”
Fox-Pitt and his British teammates hold a narrow lead in the team standings, with a total score of 139.4. The United States team holds second place (143.7), and Canada holds third (147.5).
Holder is riding as an individual, not as a member of the U.S. team. She’s rooting hard for the team, though. “I think all of us are kind of glad that the British team is feeling our breath down their necks a little bit,” she said with a smile. “We’ve been working really hard on our show jumping with Katie Prudent, and we’re hoping to put a good show on tomorrow.”
Fox-Pitt said they are definitely feeling the pressure. “The pressure is going to be on even more,” he said. “To be going into show jumping with such little space between the top two teams is going to be terrifying. We’re going to need to jump very, very well.”
The remaining 60 horses will be presented to the ground jury in Sunday morning’s final horse inspection, and show jumping will begin at 12:45 p.m.
Iman du Golfe, ridden by Juan Carlos Garcia (ITA), was injured in a fall at fence 20. He was treated at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for a deep laceration over the left elbow region. X-rays showed no major fracture, although there is a small bone chip near the elbow.
The laceration has been sutured, and the horse is resting comfortably. The Rood & Riddle attending veterinarians are optimistic that the horse will make a full recovery.
Total attendance for Saturday was 50,818.
About the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.
The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which marks the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $167 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc., Meydan, Kentucky Ale, and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games please visit, www.alltechfeigames.com.
About Alltech Founded by Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech is a global animal health and nutrition company with 30 years’ experience in developing natural products that are scientifically proven to enhance animal health and performance. With more than 2300 employees in 120 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. For downloadable press resources and information, visit http://vip.alltech.com/pressbox.