Lexington, Kentucky, USA – May 01, 2022 – It was a wire-to-wire win for Germany’s Michael Jung (GER) and fischerChipmunk FRH, who set a new record for a winning score in the Land Rover Kentucky Three–Day Event CCI5*-L presented by Mars Equestrian™.
The pair had been flawless all weekend, a trend that continued in the final phase when they went double clear in the show jumping to finish on an astounding score of 20.1 — the lowest winning score ever achieved in a CCI5*-L. Jung finished 11 points ahead of second placed Yasmin Ingham (GBR) and Banzai du Loir (31.7) and the USA’s Doug Payne and Quantum Leap (38.4). Payne, as the highest-placed American, also took home the Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L National Championship presented by Mars Equestrian™ in front of a crowd of 22,185 spectators.
“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),” Jung said. “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.”
This is Jung’s fourth win on the Kentucky bluegrass, making him second only to the legendary Bruce Davidson in wins here (Bruce has 5). It was his 11th CCI5*-L victory, which ties him with Mark Todd. Only renowned British eventer William Fox-Pitt (GBR) has more, with 14.
For this victory Jung was aboard the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sabine and Klaus Fischer, Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff and DOKR, who had come together to purchase the horse for Jung to ride, and to keep him available for the German team.
“Of course you always try to do your best, that’s why you wake up every morning and go to stables in minus 20 degrees, and in the rain, and in the heat,” Jung said. “It’s a very special moment for me, and I have to give thanks to 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.”
Clean rounds were few and far between, with time running tight and rails falling. Yasmin Ingham (GBR) added 0.8 time penalties, but it was good enough for second after USA’s Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg TSF lowered two rails to fall to fourth.
“If someone told me I’d be sitting here and in second place to (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 chestnut 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 said. 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 traveling, but I wouldn’t take it back for the world. We’ve been treated so well, so a huge thanks for all the volunteers that make this happen. I’m very thankful to be here.”
This was something of a bittersweet day for Doug Payne (USA), who experienced the highs and lows of sport all at once. He was thrilled with his result aboard Quantum Leap, a Holsteiner gelding he bought as a weanling, whose double clear round today moved him into third and into the National Championship. However, he also announced the retirement of his long-time partner and Tokyo Olympic mount Vandiver, who had a tough weekend and finished in 24th.
“This is a very tough day actually,” Payne admitted. “We bought (Quantum Leap) as a weanling from (breeder) Elizabeth Callahan, and we now have four horses she’s bred (including both of his CCI4*-S mounts Starr Witness and Camarillo). He was the start of the pipeline of horses coming in. For him to get here … he blew my expectations away and he just continues to get better and better. For an 11-year-old in only his third five-star, I couldn’t ask much more.
“I’m so thankful for the group that owns him with us (which includes, Payne, his wife Jessica and Susan Drillock),” continued Payne. “It’s incredible, to sit here and have the privilege to ride such wonderful horses and so many people come together to make that happen. I’d just like to thank them.”
While Payne is sad to see the end of his time with Vandiver, the excitement of good young horses coming along, and taking home the national championship helps ease the sting.
“It’s difficult today, how I’m feeling (about winning the national championship). It’ll sink in a few days,” Payne said. “It’s a lifetime of work, but I’m driven to always do better. Having (Vandiver) retire and having another horse step into his shoes (with) an incredibly bright future … I’d like to focus on that.”
The show jumping course, designed by Steve Stephens, garnered only six double-clear rounds, with an additional four pairs leaving the rails up and coming home with only time penalties.
Sunday awards also means a chance to recognize some additional winners. This year Ingham took home the highest-placed young rider, while Jung took highest-placed international rider. Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me took home the prize for the highest-placed sole owner. The grooms of the top three horses also got rewarded, with cash and prizes going to Lena Steger (fischerChipmunk FRH), Alison Bell (Banzai Du Loir) and Courtney Carson (Quantum Leap).
Source: Press Release by Marty Bauman / Classic Communications for the Land Rover Three Day Event
Photos: © Michelle Dunn Photo / redbayphoto.com