Sharon Hunt is talk of the Town in Luhmuhlen
Photo: Kit Houghton/FEI
"I'm shocked," said the 32-year-old, "but I always knew he was a phenomenal horse."
The optimum time of 90 seconds proved extremely difficult on the spacious 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 Ingrid Klimke (GER), whose chances of a first CCI4* win disappeared when she had both parts of the double at five down.
"The course really suited my horse because he is so good at jumping fast," explained Hunt.
Andreas Dibowski (GER), also has to wait for his first CCI4* victory, but his excellent third place on the mare FRH Fantasia has handed him a seven-point advantage in the HSBC FEI Classics, and he will be bidding to hold onto his lead in Pau (FRA).
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), who jumped a beautiful clear round - one of only two without time faults - on the elegant grey Mr Cruise Control, rose three places to fourth. He was also 10th on Armada, and has now gained a foothold on the HSBC FEI Classics rankings.
"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 CCI4* events and that is good for the sport," he said, signalling his intention to take horses to both Burghley and Pau.
Lucy Wiegersma (GBR) 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 three and incurring eight time faults, and Apache Sauce, who rose two places to seventh for Mary King.
The HSBC Training Bursary, worth US$1,000 to the highest-placed CCI4* first-timer, was awarded to French rider Regis Prud'hon (FRA), who finished 12th on Debiut with a clear 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 four-year-old and she broke him in herself.
Hunt gained her first Union flag competing as an individual at the 2006 World Equestrian Games on Tankers Town and was a member of Britain's bronze medal team at the 2008 Olympics. Her previous best CCI4* result was fifth at Badminton 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.
When asked if she will be attending any more of the HSBC FEI Classics, Hunt said: "Obviously, I now hope that I will be on an aeroplane to Kentucky, but if that doesn't come off I shall certainly be at Burghley trying to win some money!"
1 Sharon Hunt/Tankers Town (GBR) 43.0 + 0 + 4 = 47.0
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