Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW have finished in the top three at 100% of their eight CCI4* starts. They’ve won 62.5% of them. In all eight runs, they have accumulated a grand total of three seconds over the optimum time. In dressage, 75% of their tests scored in the 30s. In show jumping, 75% of their rounds added no penalties. No one has yet found this pair’s kryptonite.
Piaf de B’Neville and Astier Nicolas are true challengers to Sam’s supremacy. In three CCI4* runs, they have yet to have a single penalty in the cross country phase. This horse completed two FODs at his first two CCI4* runs and only added show jumping penalties in the second round of show jumping at the Rio Olympics. Astier has dropped their dressage average between at least two full points each year since 2012, with their 2016 average sitting a 39.7. Will this weekend be the changing of the guard?
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo can never be discounted. With the largest number of CCI4* completions in the field, Nereo also boasts three CCI4* FODs, behind only Sam in number. Nereo is also posses the best dressage average of any non-German horse in the field over the past three years and completes his cross country rounds clear and inside the time 52.2% of the time, the second-highest percentage in the field. The big question will come on the final day.
Horseware Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke have the record for lowest dressage score in the field at 27.3, making them one of the few pairs to best Michael and Sam on the flat. This is a pair who averages only 0.4 time penalties across the country when running this phase clear, and have never had more than one rail at a four-star. If they jump around clear, look for them near the top.
Qing du Briot ENE HN and his rider Thibaut Vallette have the chops to keep up with the top guns in all three phases, as long as Thibaut can come close to the time on cross country. Qing du Briot ENE HN has broken into the 30s on the flat. He’s a one-or-none horse in the stadium at the CCI level. He’s got three clear CCI3* runs under his belt, one of which was the European Championships at Blair Castle, and added another clear CCI run at the Rio Olympic Games. Only one of those four runs came in clear and inside the time, which will be their big question mark for the weekend.