Gwendolen Fer and Romantic Love won the 2017 Pau CCI4* on a final score of 45.1, just 0.1 penalties ahead of Sarah Bullimore and Reve de Rouet. Over the three phases, eventing is at its best when it becomes a game of inches — just one second faster on cross country would have given Sarah the first CCI4* win of her career.
This year’s Pau result marks the third time since 2008 we have seen a CCI4* win with a narrow 0.1 penalty margin. Ingrid Klimke and SAP Escada FRH won Luhmühlen CCI4* in 2015 on a final score of 32.7, while Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo settled for second on 32.8. Both mares finished on their dressage scores.
A third 0.1-penalty winning margin came at Pau in 2009, when Dirk Schrade and King Artus won on a final score of 48.5, ahead of Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Leon on 48.6. Dirk and King Artus added 0.8 cross country time penalties and 1 show jumping time penalty to narrowly take the win, while Andreas and FRH Butts Leon finished on their dressage score.
Looking to other narrow wins, Sharon Hunt won Luhmühlen in 2010 by a 0.2 penalty margin with Tankers Town for a final score of 47.0. Sharon had one rail down in show jumping, but two rails down for Ingrid Klimke cost her the win with FRH Butts Abraxxas, who ultimately finished second on 47.2.
A margin of 0.3 penalties determined the 2014 World Champion.
Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST stormed around the muddy track at the 2014 World Equestrian Games with the third fastest round of the day. It was an impressive CCI4* debut for the mare, and being one second faster would have given Michael and Rocana individual gold. Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo ultimately won gold on 52.0, with Michael and Rocana taking silver on 52.3.
The 2013 running of Badminton also saw Michael Jung settle for second place by a 0.3 penalty margin. Jock Paget and Clifton Promise delivered a clear show jumping round to finish on their dressage score of 39.7. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, who led after cross country, had one rail down in show jumping to ultimately finish second on 40.0.
Then there’s the flip side of the coin — CCI4* wins in which the victor dominated to take first place by a large margin.
Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford hold the honor of the largest CCI4* winning margin since 2008, taking first at Adelaide in 2016 by 14.5 penalties. Hazel and Clifford added only 1 time penalty on cross country to finish on 52.5, while Wilhelm Enzinger and Wenlock Aquifer added 3.2 cross country time penalties and three rails in show jumping to finish second on 67.0.
While Michael Jung missed out on a gold medal with fischerRocana FST by a tiny fraction, he and Rocana also have the second largest winning margin at a CCI4* since 2008. Michael and Rocana won the Kentucky CCI4* in 2016 on 39.2, adding 0.8 cross country time penalties and one rail in show jumping to finish 13.3 penalties ahead of Lauren Kieffer and Veronica.
Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob are one of only two dressage leaders to win the CCI4* at Pau in the history of the event. In 2014 they led across all three phases, adding 0.8 time penalties on cross country and one rail in show jumping, to win on 44.1, 10.2 penalties ahead of Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon.