The German showjumping team just let the Aachener Soers explode by delivering clear round after clear round and becoming the unmatched champion of the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of CHIO Aachen. Although ‘Maestro’ Ludger Beerbaum did not even have to ride in the second round, he emphasized the German victory with another clean sheet with the wonderful Casello. Team USA and France shared the second place on only four faults.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger built a fair course for world’s best riders and most of the faults were made in the double combination 5ab, the open water obstacle 6 and of course the triple combination 8abc. Robert Ridland’s team USA had to break the ice and McLain Ward did it as good as possible, delivering a flawless clear on Rothchild (Artos Z x Elegant de l’Ille). Canada’s Tiffany Foster was the second to deliver a clear round aboard Tripple X II (Namelus R x Catango Z) and also Harrie Smolders jumped a brilliant clear on Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire).
France’s Kevin Staut and Estoy Aqui de Muze HDC (Malito de Reve x Kashmir van Schuttershof) knocked down fence number 7 – the vertical behind the water jump which surprisingly did not cause too much trouble. So, Germany’s turn. Christian Ahlmann and Epleaser van ‘t Heike (For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve) – son of Jos Lansink’s Valentina van ‘t Heike – gave the German audience a disappointing start by knocking down 8b with just a touch. When Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts delivered a clear on H&M Cabrio vd Heffinck (Cassini I x Calato) as well, Germany’s four faults seemed to become expensive in the end.
But the German squad did not let anything slip from that moment on. Marcus Ehning kept his cool aboard Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum only had to worry about not being launched by a phenomenal jumping Fibonacci (For Feeling x Corland) and Ludger Beerbaum just did what he does: contributing to Germany’s result with a clean sheet aboard Casello (Casall x Carolus I).
The Dutch team had a rather disappointing result, when Leopold van Asten’s VDL Groep Zidane N.O.P. (Heartbreaker x Calando I) refused on the last fence, the Mercedes-Benz vertical, after knocking down obstacle number 4 earlier on. Gerco Schröder and Glock’s Cognac Champblanc (Clearway x Caretino) finished on nine penalties, while anchor man Maikel van der Vleuten had a knockdown on fence 5b with VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. (Quidam de Revel x Landgraf I).
After McLain Ward’s flawless clear, both Lucy Davis riding Barron (For Pleasure x Nabab de Rêve) and Laura Kraut riding Zeremonie (Cero I x Quick Star) delivered a clear as well, so Beezie Madden did not even have to ride. For Great Britain, both Michael Whitaker riding Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints) and Scott Brash with Hello Guv’Nor (Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge) jumped a clear round, going into the second round with four faults of Nigel Coupe (4) and Guy Williams (8). Eric Lamaze’s amazing clear round with Chacco Kid (Chacco Blue x Come On) could unfortunately not help Team Canada of going into the second round with eight, after Kara Chad finished on thirteen and Amy Millar on eight.
Switzerland did not get the result they hoped for, so Steve Guerdat seemed to decide to just practice Corbinian (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) for Sunday’s Grand Prix, finishing on one time penalty.
France’s Pénélope Leprévost and Roger Yves Bost both kept a clean sheet as well, while Philippe Rozier had an unlucky knockdown on the first fence with Rahotep de Toscane (Quidam de Revel x Laudanum xx).
The second round became a thriller for the German and American audience. Both teams started the second round with a score of zero and everything was still open. Unfortunately for Team USA, McLain Ward started off the second round with an unusual twelve faults, so the pressure was on the other three. Lucy Davis managed to produce a double clear round with her amazing Barron and also Laura Kraut kept a zero with Zeremonie again.
In the end, no less than nine combinations jumped a double clear in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup, including Scott Brash riding Hello Guv’Nor, Pénélope Leprévost and Ratina de la Rousserie, Roger Yves Bost riding Quod’Coeur de la Loge (Ideal de la Loge x Tenor de la Cour) and Belgium’s Judy-Ann Melchior with a outstandingly jumping As Cold As Ice Z (Artos Z x Carthago). Besides Pénélope’s and Bosty’s clear in the second round, also Philippe Rozier and Rahotep de Toscane jumped flawless, helping the French team finish on only four faults.
So the pressure was on the American team and the German team and the latter cooped the best with this pressure. Christian Ahlmann, Marcus Ehning and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum showed Olympic form by not even coming close to the fences, so Germany would finish on zero. Only Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ (Randel Z x Darco) – who did not have to jump in the first round – could turn it into a jump-off. After loosing a bit of rhythm in double combination 5ab, Beezie had to push Cortes towards the water jump. But still, they could not make the wide open water and the American pair finished on four faults.
The German crowd exploded when they knew Germany won the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup for the first time since 2008. Everyone thought Ludger Beerbaum would not jump his second round aboard Casello and the tractors already entered the arena to pick up the obstacles and flowers. But then the ‘Maestro’ and his stunning chestnut did enter the arena, probably as a test for the Olympic Games in Rio. And Ludger emphasized Germany’s domination by producing another clear round on Casello.
The United States had to share their runner-up position with France, while Great Britain finished on fourth place with nine penalties. Switzerland (14) finished fifth, Belgium (17) sixth and Canada (20) seventh, while the Netherlands finished on a disappointing total of 21 penalties and the eighth place.
Christian Ahlmann, Ludger Beerbaum, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning and Daniel Deusser are ready for Rio. But which horses they will take, remains the question...
Text © World of Showjumping by Peter van der Waaij // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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