Sharon Hunt enjoyed the biggest thrill of her long partnership with Tankers Town when the fleet-footed gelding gave her a first CCI**** win, at Luhmühlen (Germany), presented by E.ON Avacon, the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
“I’m shocked,” said the 32-year-old from Great Britain, “but I always knew he was a phenomenal horse.”
The optimum time of 90 seconds proved extremely difficult on the spacious show jumping track, and only nine out of the 32 finishers avoided collecting time penalties.
Tankers Town lowered the third fence, but Hunt kept up a good speed and did not incur any other penalties, giving her the slimmest of leads—just 0.2 of a penalty—over Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, whose chances of a first CCI**** win disappeared when she had both parts of the double at 5 down.
“The course really suited my horse because he is so good at jumping fast,” explained Hunt.
Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe placed 18th for the United States aboard The Good Witch—the only U.S. finisher. She added only time faults throughout the weekend to her dressage score of 55.2 to finish on 71.2.
Allison Springer withdrew Arthur after a slow but clean cross-country round. He sustained a hematoma on his right forearm according to Springer’s blog. The third U.S. rider, Michael Pollard, withdrew Wonderful Will after dressage.
Germany’s Andreas Dibowski placed third on the mare FRH Fantasia, which puts him atop the leaderboard in the HSBC FEI Classics for now.
Andrew Nicholson of New Zealand jumped a beautiful show jumping round—one of only two without time faults—on the elegant grey Mr. Cruise Control and rose three places to fourth. He was also 10th on Armada.
“I think they (the HSBC FEI Classics) are a very good thing for the sport because they are encouraging more riders to go to these CCI**** events, and that is good for the sport,” he said, signaling his intention to take horses to both Burghley (England) and Pau (France).
Great Britain’s Lucy Wiegersma also had two horses in the top 10: Woodfalls Inigo Jones, sixth, and Granntevka Prince, ninth. There were five British horses in the final top 10, the others being Ashdale Cruise Master (Oliver Townend), who dropped two places after hitting fence 3 and incurring 8 time faults, and Apache Sauce, who rose two places to seventh for Mary King.
The HSBC Training Bursary, worth $1,000 to the highest-placed CCI**** first-timer, was awarded to French rider Regis Prud’hon, who finished 12th on Debiut with a clear show jumping round.
Sharon Hunt’s victory is the culmination of a 12-year partnership. Her parents bought Tankers Town, an Irish Sport Horse by Ceredigion, as a 4-year-old, and she broke him herself.
Hunt gained her first Union flag competing as an individual at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, on Tankers Town and was a member of Britain’s bronze medal team at the 2008 Olympic Games. Her previous best CCI**** result was fifth at Badminton (England) in 2008. She has recently moved to a new base in Kent, England, and is now trained in dressage by former British team rider Anna Ross-Davies.
1. Sharon Hunt/Tankers Town (GBR) 43.0 + 0 + 4 = 47.0
2. Ingrid Klimke/FRH Butts Abraxxas (GER) 39.2 + 0 4/4 = 47.2
3. Andreas Dibowski/FRH Fantasia (GER) 44.2 + 0 + 4 = 48.2
4. Andrew Nicholson/Mr Cruise Control (NZL) 48.2 + 0.8 + 0 = 49.0
5. Oliver Townend/Ashdale Cruise Master (GBR) 42.8 + 0.8 + 4/4 = 51.6
6. Lucy Wiegersma/Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GBR) 44.8 + 0 + 4/4 = 52.8
7. Mary King/Apache Sauce (GBR) 51.0 + 1.6 + 8 = 52.6
8. Andreas Ostholt/Franco Jeans (GER) 53.3 + 0 + 8 = 61.3
9. Lucy Wiegersma/Granntevka Prince (GBR) 48.2 + 2.8 + 8/5 = 64.0
10. Andrew Nicholson/Armada (NZL) 58.5 + 0 + 2/4 = 64.5