Michael Jung underlined his domination of world eventing by completing a remarkable double success on the final day of this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam led a German one-two, beating countryman Andreas Ostholt into second spot by nine penalties, while Britain’s Gemma Tattersall was third aboard Arctic Soul, enhancing strong Rio Olympics selection claims.
In addition to winning Badminton’s £80,000 top prize, Jung also became the first rider in 13 years to complete the £240,000 Rolex Grand Slam, which is awarded to any rider that completes consecutive victories at Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton — the only other rider to pull the feat was Pippa Funnell in 2003.
At the age of just 33, Jung can now reflect on Olympic, World and European gold medals, Badminton and Burghley titles, plus the Grand Slam.
He also claimed a record Badminton winning score, finishing on 34.4 penalties to eclipse Australian Andrew Hoy’s 36.5 aboard Moonfleet in 2006. Not since Lucinda Fredericks and Headley Britannia nine years ago had a rider won Badminton after leading in the dressage phase.
Jung said: “I am so happy, so proud of my horse. He felt very good in the warm-up today, and I really can’t believe it at the moment.
“He is a really good friend to me. We are a really special team – a very good partnership. I know him very well in every situation, and he jumped amazingly.
“We will celebrate and enjoy the moment. This is a really special thing. We need a bit of time to understand everything of what we have achieved.
“I am very happy to ride horses. I like to bring the young horses to the top level, and that is not just my job, it is my hobby as well.”
Germany once again showcased enviable strength and depth, finishing first and second despite another star rider, Ingrid Klimke, not being at Badminton this year. However, there were also impressive collective displays from Britain, with three riders in the top eight, New Zealand, with four in the top 10, and France claiming four top-20 finishers.
In terms of the British challengers, beyond Tattersall, Tina Cook was seventh aboard Star Witness, Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) eighth, Francis Whittington (Hasty Imp) 21st, Laura Collett (Grand Manouevre) 22nd and Zara Tindall (High Kingdom) 23rd.
Reflecting on her podium finish, Tattersall said: “I cannot even describe how this feels.
“He went in there, rose to the occasion and was absolutely phenomenal. I pretended that I was at my local place – jumping at Pyecombe (in Sussex) – just so we could get it into perspective. We did the job today, and I cannot tell you how pleased I am.
“It (showjumping) is not his strongest phase, but he is starting to prove that he can jump clear rounds on the last day now. He can jump clear rounds, and he was so calm today.
“I don’t know whether he even touched a fence. I am so proud of him. I feel absolutely fabulous, and this means more than you can possibly imagine.”
Final Badminton leaderboard: 1 – Michael Jung (La Biosthetique-Sam) 34.4, 2 – Andreas Ostholt (So Is Et) 43.4, 3 – Gemma Tattersall (Arctic Soul) 44.6, 4 – Mark Todd (Leonidas II) 44.8, 5 – Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation) 45.6, 6 – Jonathan Paget (Clifton Lush) 49.2, 7 – Tina Cook (Star Witness) 49.7, 8 – Izzy Taylor (Allercombe Ellie) 50.4, 9 – Camilla Speirs (Portersize Just A Jiff ) 50.7, 10 – Jonelle Price (Classic Moet) 51.3, 11 – Beanie Sturgis (Lebowski) 52.8, 12 – Ben Way (Galley Light) 52.9, 13 – Blyth Tait (Bear Necessity V) 53.3, 14 – Astier Nicolas (Quickly Du Buguet) 53.9, 15 – Andreas Dibowski (FRH Butts Avedon) 54.1.
Image: Michael Jug during the showjumping phase of the Badminton horse trials, by Kit Houghton, courtesy of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials