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At just 24 years old, Hazel Shannon turned heads when she won Adelaide with Clifford last year, but she isn’t the youngest event rider to have won a CCI4*. Since 2000, riders in their 20s have racked up an impressive 20 wins at the highest level of the sport.
It’s not surprising to see Michael Jung on this list, but what’s truly remarkable is The Terminator appears not once but three times. He took the first CCI4* win of his career at 26 years old at Luhmühlen in 2009 with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. At 28, Michael and Sam clinched individual gold at the 2010 Lexington World Equestrian Games. Michael’s third four-star win in his 20s came at Luhmühlen in 2012 with Leopin FST.
He missed out on a fourth CCI4* win in his 20s by just one day, as Michael and Sam won individual gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games on his 30th birthday. It’s an understatement to say Michael dominated in his 20s, and he’s now won two Olympic individual gold medals in his 30s. He’ll be 38 for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and undoubtedly a heavy favorite to add more gold to his trophy cabinet.
While no other young gun matched Michael’s success during this time period, there are a slew of another names who delivered top performances. Sandra Auffarth was 27 when she won individual gold at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy with Opgun Louvo, making her one of the youngest riders to win a major CCI4* championships during this time period.
But Sandra isn’t the youngest championship victor. Zara Tindall was 25 when she won the 2006 Aachen World Equestrian Games with Toytown, making her the youngest British rider to win a CCI4* since 2000. Two other Brits make the list, including Ruth Edge, who won Luhmühlen in 2007 with Two Thyme at 27 years old.
Aside from Michael Jung, only one other rider on this list took multiple CCI4* wins while still in his 20s. Oliver Townend holds that distinction thanks to his banner year in 2009, when he won Badminton with Flint Curtis and Burghley with Carousel Quest at 26 years old.
Want to read the rest of the piece? Click over to the EquiRatings blog to find out which Americans make the list, as well as the youngest CCI4* winner since 2000. Go Eventing.