In a thrilling finale played out under glorious blue skies, Germany’s Michael Jung and his superstar partner, La Biosthetique Sam FBW, took the Land Rover Burghley title, and in doing so became the first German combination to have their names inscribed in this famous history book.
The reigning Olympic and European Champion could not afford a single mistake in the final phase as the rider before him, Tim Price, had piled on the pressure by jumping an immaculate clear. But Sam, now 16 and undisputedly the best event horse of the modern era, gave every fence feet to spare. The grin on his rider’s face, together with the accompanying air-pump as he crossed the finish line, told the story.
“To win Burghley is very special,” confirmed Michael, who had an eventful weekend having fallen from his other ride, Fischerrocana FST, on the cross-country. “I am lucky that I have two horses that have finished safe. Sam gave me a very good feeling warming up for the show jumping; he felt powerful and he was very concentrated. He is like a good friend to me; I have learnt a lot from him and hopefully he has learnt a little from me.”
New Zealander Tim Price, who also finished second behind Michael at Kentucky CCI4* earlier this year on his other horse, Wesko, had to settle for second place again with Varenna Allen and his own Ringwood Sky Boy.
“The horse has been improving in every way, so I knew I could be up there in the dressage and hoped I’d stay there after the cross-country, but to still be in this position today is very exciting,” he said. “Ringwood Sky Boy is not natural in the show jumping, but he tries very hard and he is learning to be careful at the right times.”
Tim’s wife, Jonelle, whose fast cross-country round yesterday with Trisha Rickard’s Classic Moet was many peoples’ performance of the day, dropped one rail to slide from third to fifth. Nevertheless it was a memorable Land Rover Burghley for the Antipodeans – second to sixth places were all claimed by riders from the southern hemisphere.
Australia’s Christopher Burton delivered two masterful performances on his two rides, TS Jamaimo, owned by Richard Ames, Alan Bell and Russ Withers, and Haruzac, owned by Alan Skinner, to finish third and fourth. With the former he was the only rider to finish on his dressage score.
“I’m delighted with both horses. In 2004 as a young rider I flew a horse here from Australia, but we only got as far as fence 3,” he smiled. Yesterday was the first time I’d seen the finish flags,” he said.
Sir Mark Todd completed the domination from Down Under by coming sixth on Diane Brunsden and Peter Cattell’s Leonidas II. In seventh was Frenchman Cydric Lyard (Cadeau Du Roi).
Tina Cook was the best-placed British rider in eighth place with Jim Chromiak, Shaun Lawson, Bridget Biddlecombe and Mr & Mrs Embricos’ smart 10-year-old Star Witness, while William Fox-Pitt finished just behind ninth-placed Australian Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) in tenth with Carol Gee and Catherine Witt’s four-star first-timer Fernhill Pimms.