Click here for full results from the last leg of the Top League.
The last leg of the Nations Cup 2011 had all the exitement a last leg should have. Netherlands and Germany were fighting for the overall win, while Belgium and USA tried to avoid being the second team that will compete in the Promotional League next year together with Denmark.
The course consisted of 15 fences including a triple combination at 5 a, b and c, a water jump as number eight and a combination at 11 a and b with a triplebar as the a-element. It was a quite fair course built by Santiage Varela who is the coursedesigner for the Europeans in Madrid. But the oxers were big and even though the time allowed was adjusted after the first three riders, the time was still tight. The faults were spread evenly around the entire course, but fence one, the Rabobank oxer, gave many riders a tough start as the front pole fell. The first round had five clears, the second round had nine and there were three double clears - Carsten-Otto Nagel, Ben Maher and Olivier Guillon.
Before start in Rotterdam Netherlands was in the overall lead at 44 points with Germany and Great Britain at 40 points in second place. After the first round the pressure was on for the home team as Germany was in the lead which ment that Netherlands had to be number two to secure the win - a job that seemed hard considering the team had collected 16 faults and were on seventh place after the first round.
In the battle between Belgium and USA to avoid relegation, Belgium was in the lead by two points before the last leg. After the first round the places were switched as the American girls did a great job and were second after the first round, while Belgium was a bit unlucky and were number five with twelve points which gave USA a lead of 0.5 points on the overall standings.
The standings after the first round;
Great Britain 8
USA didn't manage to keep up the good riding in the second round as Lauren Hough had nine faults and Laura Kraut ended up with unusual ten points after a stop with Cedric at a big oxer at number seven. Christine McCrea did a good job, but her clear round was not enough. Beezie Madden was also clear on the fences, but had one time penalty and USA ended up with a total of eighteen faults and sixth place. Belgium on the other hand had a much better second round although Philippe Le Jeune had two poles down, Gregory Wathelet manaaged a clear round while the young and talented Nicola Philippaerts had a great round but one pole down. Jos Lansink made Valentina van 't Heike jump so unbelievably high at every fence that they got one time fault, but their totalt result at seventeen faults and fourth place was enough to secure their place in the Top League for next year.
The battle of the overall victory wasn't over before Ludger Beerbaum had entered the arena three times - the last time for a jump-off against Ben Maher and Great Britain. Once again the British team had a really good second round which earned them a place in the jump-off for the victory. The Dutch team also did a much better job in the second round with clears from both Maikel van der Vleuten on VDL Groep Verdi and Jeroen Dubbeldam on BMC Van Grunsven Simon, while Eric van der Vleuten had one time penalty with VDL Groep Utascha SFN. They ended at a total of seventeen faults and a split fourth place with Belgium, which gave them 4.5 extra points to add to the overall results. With 48.5 points it meant that the overall win was lost. If Germany won and could add ten points to their 40, Germany also would take the overallwin - same with Great Britain.
Marco Kutscher got one time penalty, while Thomas Voss had some problems and ended at thirteen. Carsten-Otto Nagel was clear with Corradina and when Ludger Beerbaum entered the arena for the second round he could secure the win with a clear on Gotha. Unfortunately he had one pole down on the last line, which meant that Germany and Great Britain had to decide the final result in a jump-off - the third one in the League this season. Ben Maher was first to go and got four faults as the back pole of a big oxer fell. All pressure was on Ludger, and this time he did not crack under pressure. With a clear round the double win was a fact and there were some happy Germans attending the press conference.
With Denmark and USA out, the League will get two new teams next year. Switzerland is already in as the Promotional League winners, and the other nation will be decided in the final in Barcelona in September, the weekend after the Europeans in Madrid. The Danish team has had a tough season in the Top League, but today they really showed that their Top League visit has improved their riding and given them great experience. Andreas Schou had two good rounds with only one fence down and one time penalty in each round. Camilla Enemark had one time penalty in the second round and Emilie Martinsen had one fence down and two time faults. Maybe we'll see them back in the top in 2013?
The final results from Rotterdam;
1. Germany 10/0
2. Great Britain 10/4
3. France 12
4. Netherlands 17
4. Belgium 17
6. USA 18
7. Ireland 29
8. Denmark 33
The overall standings;
Great Britain 47
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