Eight years after their last World Championship title, the Dutch riders did it again – this time at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy. It was a hard fought battle though, as the French team took out their fighting spirit to prove to the home crowds that it was worth their visit. In the end, the French team's performances brought them up from yesterday's fourth position to the silver medals. The US team also had to see themselves passed by the French team, and had to settle for the bronze after lying in second position yesterday.
After all the pathfinders for the ten teams had been in the ring, only one rider had been able to bring home a clear round and it was Germany's Christian Ahlmann on Codex One (Contendro I x Glueckspilz). The French, US and Dutch team on the other hand had one pole down each, as McLain Ward's Rotchild (Artos x Elegant d'Elle) hit the oxer at two while Jeroen Dubbeldam's Zenith SFN (Rash R x Fuego du Prelet) as well as Simon Delestre's Qlassic Bois Margot (L'Arc de Triomphe x Galoubet A) took down the middle element of the triple. In addition Dubbeldam picked up a time fault.
It was France's second rider Penelope Leprevost' clear round that tightened the plot though. Leprevost – who is by far the most stylish lady rider in the world – was literally lifted over the fences by the home crowd on Flora de Mariposa (For Pleasure x Powerlight). Despite a very hairy moment in the triple combination half way around the thirteen fence track, Leprevost stayed clear and made the d'Ornano stadium explode – putting pressure on those to come. And when Marcus Ehning's Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat), Kent Farrington's Voyeur (Tolano van't Riethof x Goodwill) and Maikel van der Vleuten's VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. (Quidam de Revel x Landgraf I) all lowered one rail each in addition to Ehning picking up a time fault it looked set to get really exciting.
The French kept closing in on the rest, as their third rider Kevin Staut also went clear. Riding Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux des Six Censes), one of two horses owned by the Haras des Coudrettes for the French team, Staut did a beautiful clear round and once again the heaven above the d'Ornano stadium lifted. The tension increased when Daniel Deusser's Cornet d'Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) – who has been jumping incredible so far in this championship – lowered the a-element of the Alltech triple and USA's Lucy Davis on Barron (For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve) also recorded four faults.
After a round that was a bit under par yesterday, the Netherland's Jur Vrieling came back today with a clear round on VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet x Nimmerdor) – redeeming himself and helping to save the day for the Dutch team. Vrieling's round was very important and in the end it made it possible to discharge Dubbeldam's five penalty score.
France's Patrice Delaveau – leading rider ahead of today's team final – made it almost nerve wracking for the rest of the medals when Orient Express HDC (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly) had an early rail down, putting his team on a final score of 14.08. Germany could now not afford one rail down as they then would lose out on the silver medal, but their anchor rider Ludger Beerbaum could simply not keep it together as Chiara 222 (Contender x Coronado) like many other horses hit the oxer at two to record four faults. The silver belonged to France.
It was USA's Beezie Madden who saved the day for America with another superb clear on Cortes 'C' (Randel Z x Darco). With her performance, the Americans could discharge Davis' four penalties and ended on a score of 16.72 pushing Germany down to fourth with their 16.82 penalties.
This left Gerco Schröder with the possibility to do whatever he wanted on Glock's London N.O.P. (Nabab de Reve x Chin Chin). Even with a disaster his team would end as World Champions. But there was no disaster, just the middle element of the triple hitting the ground, leaving the Dutch team on a score of 12.83 penalties taking home a very well deserved gold medal.
Top five teams:
1) Netherlands – 12.83
2) France – 14.08
3) USA – 16.72
4) Germany – 16.82
5) Brazil – 16.95
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