The FEI Top League in Falsterbo was the fourth leg of the season, and teams lined up to fight for important points and some additional glory on this rainy day. Germany had topped their team for the occasion to claim some serious points, and their tactics paid off as the strong team consisting of Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher, Thomas Voss and Carsten-Otto Nagel delivered everything that could be expected from them. Sweden and France shared the glory of the second position. “It was a big pressure on us today as we needed the points to climb up the ranking, it is important for us to stay in the Top League. It was good to see the horses jump so well today, and now we have a good feeling before Aachen,” said chef d’equipe Heinrich-Hermann Engemann after the win.
Charlie Jayne opened the show for the Americans aboard the little Toulon-mare Athena, but the pair had two see two poles hit the grass. Niels Bruynseels on the Nasa (Cumano) did not have the day, and had three down.
The first clear of the day came from a Dutch rider; Piet Raymakers Jr on Van Schjindel’s Rascin (Ramiro) rode a beautiful clear to give his team a perfect start. Marco Kutscher and Cash (Carthago) made it all look easy as next to go, and produced a textbook clear. Faults then followed, as Tim Stockdale got in real trouble on Fresh Direct Kalico Bay (Limmrick) – who slammed on the breaks into the triple combination. Loosing rhythm after the stop caused poles down as well, and the British pair ended up with 19 penalties.
Ireland’s Shane Breen on Cos I Can was unlucky to have the first element of the last combination down, as was Torben Frandsen for Denmark who had the vertical at fence eleven down. As usual Penelope Leprevost produced a beautiful round, but the Heartbreaker-stallion Topinambour went a little too high on the oxer at fence seven – and was unable to reach over the back pole.
The Dutch team continued their brilliance with another clear – this time from Maikel van der Vleuten on the powerful stallion VDL Groep Verdi (Quidam de Revel). Maikel has been on great form lately, and today’s first round was no exception. The pair had to note down a time penalty though. Germany’s second rider Thomas Voss could not keep up with team mate Kutscher’s performance, and ended up with 15 faults.
USA Today – another Heartbreaker stallion – is an amazing horse, a real powerhouse who makes every jump seem small. Unfortunately he had the vertical at fence eleven down with Robert Whitaker.
The crowds went crazy when the new Swedish superstar Angelica Augustsson went clear on the hot chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising). A few of the poles rattled as Angelica struggled to keep Mic Mac under controll, but in her usual stylish and cool way the Swedish rider kept it together to the end clear in their first Top League-appearance – even without a stirrup in the last combination. Denis Lynch is back on the Irish team, and chef d’equipe Robert Splaine must have been very happy when Denis crossed the finish line on a clean sheet on his new ride Lord Louis (Lasino) who was previously ridden by Lars Nieberg. Christian Schou clocked in twelve faults for Denmark, while Simon Delestre had one down for France.
The next three riders for USA, Belgium and Holland all had plenty of faults – while Carsten-Otto Nagel on Corradina had the first element of the triple combination down. The oxer at fence nine fell for Britain’s Bruce Menzies on Sultan V (Irco Mena), while Peder Fredricsson on H&M Arctic Aurora Borealis (Corrado I) had two down. Nicola Fitzgibbon on Puissance also made their Top League debut today, and with style as only one pole hit the grass.
Kevin Staut and Silvana de Hus (Corland) had the first element of the triple combination down, while Christine McCrea on Romantovitch Take One (Numero Uno) managed to keep all the fences intact to produce the only clear round for USA in round one, leaving them at a total of fifteen penalties. Belgium continued to struggle as Jan Vinckier got a total of 34 faults after a lot of trouble, and Belgium had to note down 27 penalties after round one. Leon Thijssen’s Tyson (Numero Uno) had an uncharacteristic three fences down, and Holland was left with a total of thirteen penalties.
Ludger Beerbaum’s brilliant run of form continued when he clocked in a clear on super-star Gotha (Goldfever), and Germany went into the lead with only four penalties. Peter Charles’ Murka’s Nevada (Rosire) is a lovely horse, but unfortunately the pair hit two poles and Britain was left at a total of 16 penalties.
Rolf-Göran Bengtsson is popular beyond imagination in Sweden, and delivered the goods to the full when he and Ninja la Silla (Guidam) produced a clear round to leave Sweden at a total of four faults – the same result as Germany. Cian O’Connor had borrowed Splendor (Lester) from his friend Ahmed Tolba for the occasion, and the pair did well – but unfortunately had the first element of the last combination down. Ireland ended up with eight faults after round one. Things didn’t go well for Thomas Velin on Godsend de Reverdy who was eliminated, and Denmark was left with 25 faults. Michel Robert and Kellemoi de Pepita (Voltaire) had the b-element of the triple combination down, and France was left in fourth position with twelve faults.
Belgium continued to struggle in round two, and was left with a total of 47 faults. Denmark could not keep up with the challenges either as poles fell and Tina Lund’s Qrispy de Ive Z reared and reared causing Lund to retire, and the team had a total result of 49 penalties. Britain had to depend on only three riders in the second round as Tim Stockdale did not ride. Robert Whitaker and USA Today had a foot in the water, but the stallion continued to jump fantastic – and team mate Bruce Menzies had just one down as did Peter Charles on the bouncy Murka’s Nevada. The total score for Britain after two rounds was 28 penalties.
Athena opened with a clear for USA with Charlie Jayne, while Saer Coulter and Springtime hit one pole to end up at four faults. Lucy Davis and Nemo 119 had one down, and Christine McCrea had two. The overall result for the American team was 23 penalties.
The first double clear of the day came from a very well riding Piet Raymakers Jr. and Rascin, and Piet could triumphantly cross the finish line with a smile on his face. Maikel van der Vleuten and Verdi joined in, and also produced another spotless clear – giving the Dutch team every chance to improve from round one. Albert Zoer could not keep up though and had two down, but Thijssen and Tyson was back in business with the stallion jumping with the smoothness of a cat around the track to slot in a clear round. The Dutch ended up with thirteen faults after displaying such brilliant performances in round two, which was good enough for fourth and more important points for the Top League leader.
France saw Penelope having two fences down, while Simon Delestre and Napoli du Ry improved themselves from round one and were clear around the track. Kevin Staut was also back on track with Silvana, and rode a lovely clear round. Michel Robert is used to the pressure of being last to go, and handled his task with style – a really nice clear was the result. France ended up with twelve penalties over all.
Ireland was not so lucky in round two with faults from Breen, Lynch and O’Connor, but debutant Nicola Fitzgibbon produced a determined clear. The overall result for the Irish team was 16 penalties.
Marco Kutscher and Cash also produced a double clear – and rode the course like it was a walk in the park, giving the German team every chance to stay at top. Thomas Voss had the oxer at fence nine down after coming a little too close, and then came Carsten-Otto Nagel with his superstar Corradina who jumped smashing to cross the finish line on a clean sheet. The deal was sealed and Ludger didn’t even have to ride the second round. Victory belonged to Germany with eight penalties. Marco Kutscher held one of three double clears of the day, and said; “The feeling was very good with Cash today, you needed an experienced horse with the ground which was not perfect. Cash handled it in a great way, and I’m very pleased with him.”
Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Tornesch (Lux Z) made the home crowds go mad with joy when they left all the fences intact for the Swedish team. Angelica Augustsson was unlucky towards the end of the course as Mic Mac got very hot and strong after the water and kicked two poles out; one at the vertical following the water and one at the last element of the combination. Peder Fredricsson got in real trouble when the gelding took down the back pole on the b-element of the triple combination and then lost balance and slided into the c-element; the pair managed to regain control after jumping it over again and ended up with ten faults. The hero of the day was Rolf-Göran who rode an immaculate round on Ninja la Silla in deep silence from the crowds, who exploded when Rolf crossed the finish line clear. Sweden – who as a host nation participated in the Top League – claimed the second position together with France.
Holland still heads the Top League on 29,5 points, and Ireland is second with 21. Germany is up on third with 21 points, while Belgium is fourth with 20 point. Great Britain, France, USA and Denmark follows - the latter with only five points.
For full results click here.
For full standings in the Top League click here.
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