Michael Jung retained the lead he forged early on Thursday morning to top the leaderboard at the end of the first day of dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
The German maestro, who is currently ranked number one in the world, proved once again why he is the dominant force in top level competition when he chalked up a score of 34.2 with the 11-year-old mare Fischerrocana FST to leave him more than three penalties ahead of the field.
“It was nearly the very best test we can do,” said Michael at the end of day press conference. “She is more used to doing dressage on a surface than on grass, but the ground here in the arena was very good and had a lot of give and grip, which allowed her to move well.”
Andrew Hoy, who won here in 2004 with Moon Fleet, produced his customary polished first phase performance to lie second overnight on a score of 37.8 on Rutherglen.
“The sport as a whole and the standard of dressage has moved on enormously in the past 11 years – the test I rode today was way ahead of what I did in 2004,” said Andrew, who went on to divulge that when he won his first ever Land Rover Burghley title in 1979 he was the same age – 20 – as the young German rider sat next to him in the media centre at the end of the day, Niklas Bschorer, who currently occupies third place.
Niklas, who is the youngest rider this year by six days, pulled an excellent test out of the bag with Tom Tom Go 3 to earn the only other sub-40 mark – 39.7.
Niklas, whose miraculous save and memorable acrobatics at the Badminton Lake earlier this year made the headlines is, like Michael, a first-timer.
“It is amazing to be here riding,” said Niklas. “Tom Tom Go also did a good test at Badminton, but we still made some mistakes and we will be trying to iron these out over the winter. Overall, though, I am very happy.”
Niklas is currently based with Catherine Burrell in Wiltshire while he mulls over his options, which will probably include going to university to study economics.
The best British rider at this stage is another first-timer, Rosalind Canter. The 29-year-old crafted a beautiful test from Caroline Moore’s Allstar B to score 40.2 and lie in fourth place.
The unanimous verdict on this year’s cross-country track, which runs in the opposite direction this year, that it is a “very tough test”.
Niklas Bchorer said: “There is plenty to jump out there, but there are also a lot of options, so it will be interesting to see which routes the early riders take.”
Tomorrow’s dressage begins at 9.30am when the first combination in the arena will be Beanie Sturgis and Lebowski.