WEG: Cross-Country Keeps Germany's Jung Atop Eventing World Championships

As the day's third-to-last starter, Germany's Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW made the cross-country course look easy at the Eventing World Championships, presented by Reem Acra. The pair added nothing to their dressage penalty score of 33.00, to keep the lead they took Friday (Oct. 1) in the dressage phase at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Creeping up behind Jung after equally impressive rounds were Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt on Cool Mountain, finishing on their dressage score of 42.00, and the United States' Becky Holder on Courageous Comet, finishing on 42.50. (Courageous Comet was withdrawn this morning; more details to come later today.)

Of the 79 horses that started Saturday's course, 60 finished (75.9%). Some 13 riders, including Jung and Fox-Pitt, finished faster than the ideal time of 11:14 and added nothing to their dressage penalties.

Jung, 28, said his warm-up didn't go as he'd planned, because of a hold on course. "I was on my horse almost double the time I normally would have been," said Jung. "The big problem was I just didn't know when I would start. There was also a really fresh wind that came up, and I didn't want my horse to get very cool. I wanted to keep him really warm."

Despite the less-than-ideal preparation, Jung was thrilled with the course and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, 10, whom he has ridden since the gelding was 5 years old.

"Thus was my first championship at the four-star level," he said. "I think it was a difficult course but a fair one for the horses. One of the big difficulties was there were demanding jumps all over the course, so at every jump you really had to concentrate, and every jump asked a very big effort from your horse, from the first jump until the end."

Fox-Pitt, 41, agreed that course designer Michael Etherington-Smith had created a proper championship track. "I think in reality no one would have guessed it would cause the trouble it did," he said. "It looked very imposing, but in many aspects it was a quite straightforward, big, attacking track. For it to cause enough trouble for me to have moved up from 12th to second--I am amazed. I think the last three horses of the day made it look like a canter around the park."

Holder, 41, said she was up on all her minute markers until she got near the end, but then she became a little conservative trying to make sure she got home "nice and tidy," adding 3.2 time penalties to her score. She added that she breathed more easily after putting certain parts of the course behind her. "It was certainly a relief to have the coffin and wishing well combination in my rear-view mirror," she said. "It felt like he went through them easily, and that gave me a great amount of confidence for the rest of the course."

After cross-country, and before this morning's jog, Fox-Pitt and his British teammates held a narrow lead in the team standings, with a total score of 139.4. The United States team held second place (143.7), and Canada held third (147.5).

Show jumping begins this afternoon.

Total attendance for Saturday was 50,818.

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