Breaking Down the Winning Ride: Where Did Clark Get the Upper Hand?

Clark Montgomery and Michael Jung. Photos by Jenni Autry.

It’s no surprise that two of the best dressage event horses in the world are currently nearly neck and neck for the lead heading into cross country at Rolex Kentucky. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen were just shy of a personal best, scoring a 33.6 for the lead, followed by Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST on a 37.1.

While there is a tiny bit of breathing room (less than 10 seconds of time for tomorrow’s cross country test) at the top, it’s certainly still any man or woman’s game at this point. Nevertheless, we thought it would be interesting to break down the top two tests to see exactly where Clark gained a scoring advantage from the judges.

Here is a look at each test broken down by judges’ marks at each movement, collective marks, and total penalty points and percentage:

Clark Montgomery:

Michael Jung:

For the sake of surface analysis, we did a progressive average to find out where each pair really had their best trend as well as their lowest. From a pure numerical standpoint, here is the breakdown of averages for each rider:

Some notes that are of interest:

  • Clark Montgomery started his test at a 73% with his first centerline, halt and salute. From there, he progressively trended up, only losing a hair of traction (if you can call a +75% “losing traction”) in his walk and the beginning of his canter work. He ended on an average of 76.4%, not including collective marks.
  • Michael Jung started strong and lost traction throughout the rest of his test. His first centerline, halt and salute earned him a 9 from Nick Burton at M, and his starting percentage was a 75%.
  • Michael lost the most amount of momentum in his walk work. Looking back at the live stream, which featured Marilyn Payne as a guest commentator during this test, a few comments were made about Michael giving fischerRocana FST perhaps a bit longer of a rein that necessary. This is speculation, of course, without seeing the judges’ remarks, but Marilyn did make a comment about this.
  • Both riders’ highest average marks from the three judges came during their flying changes towards the end of the test, across center line.
  • Collective marks notwithstanding, Clark had an overall score average of 75.8%, while Michael averaged 73.4%. You can see the final percentages above that include the collectives.
  • Michael received two nines during his test, both from Nick Burton: his first center line and his halt prior to the rein back.
  • Clark received four 9s and one 10 (two of the 9s and the 10 from Nick Burton, the other two from Christina Klingspor) on the following movements: Extended trot, his second flying change, his second center line flying change, and his final halt, which received the 10.

While these two scores are certainly not “neck and neck”, it’s still fascinating to break down the averages and see exactly how each pair managed their tests. We could go even farther into detail, but my math skills stop right about here.

Take a look at the top two tests here so that you can do your own comparison!

Maggie Deatrick also contributed to this report.

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