Olympic champion Michael Jung was left to reflect on what he described as an “amazing” feeling after winning the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Jung became the event’s first German champion in its 54-year history after delivering an ice-cool showjumping clear round aboard his London 2012 gold-medal-winning ride La Biosthetique Sam.
Jung, leader after cross-country, knew he could not afford a mistake as New Zealander Tim Price left all the fences up with Ringwood Sky Boy to stand just 1.5 penalties behind the German master.
But Jung, as he has done so often during his stellar career, produced the goods when it really mattered as he captured Burghley’s £63,000 top prize two years after being denied victory at Badminton, when he had the final showjumping fence down.
The ultra-consistent Price had to settle for second, while Australian Christopher Burton completed a superb weekend’s work by finishing third on his recently crowned Gatcombe British Open champion TS Jamaimo — and fourth aboard Haruzac.
Price’s wife, Jonelle, riding Classic Moet, was fifth, meaning that that New Zealand’s most celebrated eventing couple left Lincolnshire boasting a combined prize fund of £61,000.
“It is amazing,” said Jung, whose attention will now turn to the FEI European Championships at Blair Castle in Scotland from next Thursday, when he will defend his individual title, and Germany the team crown.
“Burghley is a very big competition with a big tradition — it is a very famous event — and to win here is absolutely perfect.
“It was a very good showjumping round. The horse felt very powerful during the warm-up — he gave me a very good feeling — and that helps a lot when you go into the arena.
“To be at Burghley and ride two horses on the cross-country was amazing. It is a wonderful place, and to win this competition is one of the highlights in my career.”
The highly-fancied combination of Mark Todd and Leonidas II finished sixth, just in front of Frenchman Cedric Lynard and Cadeau du Roi, with 2009 European champion Tina Cook the leading British rider in eighth spot on Star Witness. Badminton 2014 winners Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh were ninth, and six-time Burghley winner William Fox-Pitt was 10th aboard Fernhill Pimms.
Fox-Pitt will now spearhead the British medal challenge at Blair Castle aboard Bay My Hero, but with Fernhill Pimms, his enviable string of horses now includes another four-star performer.
“I am delighted with him,” Fox-Pitt said. “Hopefully, he will come out next year a stronger horse, and I am really looking forward to it. He has been absolutely fantastic here.”
Cook, meanwhile, is likely to aim Star Witness at Badminton next year, and she added: “He is only a 10-year-old, and you never know when they go into an arena like that whether they might freeze or have an unlucky pole down, but he went in there and made it feel really easy.
“I wanted to bring him here to see if he could move up (the leaderboard) after dressage, and he did that.”
Burghley results: 1 – Michael Jung (La Biosthetique Sam) 40.0, 2 – Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy) 41.5, 3 – Christopher Burton (TS Jamaimo) 45.0), 4 – Christopher Burton (Haruzac) 47.6, 5 – Jonelle Price (Classic Moet) 48.9, 6 – Mark Todd (Leonidas II) 50.5, 7 – Cedric Lynard (Cadeau du Roi) 50.8, 8 – Tina Cook (Star Witness) 52.6, 9 – Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) 57.7, 10 – William Fox-Pitt (Fernhill Pimms) 58.6.
Image: Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam during the cross country at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, sixth and final leg of the FEI Classics, by Trevor Meeks, courtesy of the FEI