In the huge arena in Aachen it was France who proved to be the best team tonight after a tough fight battling Germany nearly all the way to the last rider. Tonight’s course consisted of twelve fences and fifteen jumps including a water jump. Half way through the first round, the course seemed fairly easy, but as the rest of the riders kept coming the penalties came as well. It was especially the water and the last line which caused most difficulties. From fence number 11 the riders had to go either on seven strides really forward or eight short ones. The combination at 12 a and b then consisted of a red vertical followed by a huge white oxer that the horses found difficult.
Belgium did not have their best day at work today. Besides Olivier Philippaerts who delivered a strong first round aboard his lovely grey stallion Cabrio van de Heffinck, the Belgian riders Dirk Demeersman, Niels Bruynseels and Ludo Philippaerts all had to see several poles fall in both rounds which gave them the eight and last place tonight.
For Sweden the water jump proved to be their biggest problem. All riders had a foot in the water in both rounds except Henrik von Eckermann and Allerdings who took down fence number ten, the Mercedes oxer, in the second round instead. Besides the water, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall La Silla had two good rounds, a great warm-up only few weeks ahead of the Olympics. Lisen Bratt Fredricson and Matrix also had a good first round with four faults from the water, but in the second round their total ended at 16 penalties. As Lisen’s husband Peder Fredricson took a fall in the triple combination in the first round he chose not to ride the second one which meant that the three other scores had to count. With a total of 36 faults it was only good enough for seventh place.
For the Netherlands luck was not on their side today. After the first round the combinations looked good though. Leon Thijssen and Tyson produced a clear, while Marc Houtzager with Sterrehof's Tamino, Harrie Smolders with Equis Walnut de Muze and Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi all had four faults. In the second round Tyson refused to keep on towards the triple combination after fence four which forced Leon to take a circle. In addition to this they had the water and ended at twelve faults. Marc had one fence down and Harrie had two. As Maikel not came to start in the second round the Dutch team had a total score of 32 faults which placed them as number six.
Great Britain suffered the same destiny as Holland, but managed to beat them by one point. Michael Whitaker and GIG Amai was the only British combination to ride a clear round, but had one time penalty. Guy Williams and Titus ended at 17 and 16 faults, while Carlo and Nick Skelton had one pole down in each round. Scott Brash and Intertoy Z had a total of sixteen faults after two rounds, and Great Britain ended fifth at 31 points.
Switzerland has been an interesting team this year. In Aachen they were present by nearly their full Olympic team besides Clarissa Crotta, with Werner Muff, Paul Estermann, Steve Guerdat and Pius Schwizer. Werner had eight and twelve faults with Kiamon, but they jumped a very good first round. Paul Estermann, the Olympic reserve, produced two clear rounds with Castlefield Eclipse - a performance only four riders managed today. Carpalo and Steve had five faults from the first round, and as Carpalo got a little strong towards the the end of the second round they had to add eight faults to their total. A total of 21 faults was good enough for fourth place.
After the first round Ireland was placed as number four at twelve faults. After their two first riders in the second round, Denis Lynch and Dermott Lennon, it did not look like Ireland would have any chance to end up amongst the top three. Denis added eight faults to their score after a foot in the water as well as the last fence down. Dermott Lennon’s horse Loughview Lou Lou looked a bit tired after a good first round, and crossed the finish line at 16 faults - 20 in total after two rounds. But then Billy Twomey and Cian O’Connor both stepped up and delivered clear rounds aboard respectively Je T’Aime Flamenco and Blue Loyd. Their good performances secured an Irish third place at 20 points.
The fight today was between France and Germany. After round one France was ahead by three points as they had two clear rounds from Eugenie Angot with Old Chap Tame and Penelope Leprevost with Mylord Carthago, while Roger Yves Bost had one time penalty and Olivier Guiliion had four faults.
Germany opened to a wild applause from the home crowd as both Marcus Ehning and Christian Ahlmann were clear with Plot Blue and Codex One in round one. Janne-Friedrike Meyer had one down with Cellagon Lambrasco - the front pole on fence number four -which made the German crowd cry out. For Marco Kutscher and Cornet Obolensky things did not work out today. The combination who normally serves perfect rounds had a foot in the water at number eight, and as they were approaching fence number ten, the two did not quite agree on things and Marco had to make a circle. The penultimate fence,12 A also fell which ended Marco and Cornet at 16 faults.
Marcus and Christian once again produced clear rounds in the second round, and Marcus’ smile looked like it went around his head at least twice as he crossed the finish line. Eugenie had four faults for France and Bosty five, which sent Germany in the lead with two riders left to go. Then Janne-Friedrike had two down with Cellagon Lambrasco - an unusual result for last year’s winners of the Grand Prix here in Aachen. As Penelope managed another clear round - the fourth rider of the day to do this in addition to Estermann, Ehning and Ahlmann - everything was open.
With a clear round round from Marco Germany could secure their third win in this year’s Top League, but Marco and Cornet had not sorted things out since round one. With fence 1, 10 and 12 B down in addition to a foot in the water, Germany’s twelve faults was not good enough to win today. Although France had won even without their last rider, Olivier still chose to ride. He and Lord de Theize ended at four faults and France could finish off as the best team of the day at a total of ten faults after two rounds in Aachen. Congratulations!
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