For yet another time this season, Germany was in a league of their own in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 1 – this time around at Hickstead. This was the penultimate stop in the league, before it moves on to the last and final leg in Dublin before the final in Barcelona. Germany’s anchor rider Ludger Beerbaum did not even have to ride the second round as the team had already won at a four penalty score when three of their riders had been in the ring – leaving the US team and the French one fighting for the next two podium places, and France also for points just like Germany did today.
Germany dominated already after the first round following clears from Marcus Ehning on Plot Blue(Mr. Blue x Pilot) – who made it look like a walk in the park, Hans-Dieter Dreher on the powerful Magnus Romeo (Royal Feu x Hans Anders Z) and Ludger Beerbaum on the lovely grey Chiara (Contender x Coronado). The three German guys’ performances made them able to discharge Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s four penalties on Bella Donna (Baldini II x Calido I) – that occurred on the oxer at nine.
The American riders trailed closed behind on four penalties, after Reed Kessler produced a brilliant clear on Cylana (Skippy II x Darco) – as well as in-form Beezie Madden who also was clear on Cortes C (Randel Z x Darco). The French team was also on a four penalty score after round one, with clears from their two stylish female riders Penelope Leprevost on Nayana (Royal Feu x Narcos) and Marie Hecart on the bouncy Myself de Breve (Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur). Holland was the third and last team with four faults, and it was the veteran Albert Voorn on Tobalio (Numero Uno x Jacorde) and Jur Vrieling on VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet x Nimmerdor) who produced the clears for the team.
Faults spread out around the twelve fence track in the grass ring at Hickstead, that featured the White Horse gate from the London Olympics at fence three, then a combination at 4ab, then yet again a combination at 6ab – open water as fence eight followed by a huge white oxer on a related distance before it was back to the Hickstead planks and then a final line with an oxer and a combination.
The first clear in the second round came from Shane Breen on the wonderful Cos I Can (Olympic Lux x Harlequin de Carel) – who had one of five double clears of the day. With his performance he helped the Irish team climb up the ranks – as did their anchor rider Billy Twomey who also was double clear on the wonderful Diaghilev (Vangelis x Handstreich) that fits Twomey like a hand in a glove. As Capt. Michael Kely and Niall Talbott only had one down apiece, Ireland eventually climbed up to fourth position overall with a score of thirteen penalties.
It didn’t look all that good for the American and the French though, as Richard Spooner and Cristallo (Caretino x Cicero) had two down as first out for their team in the second round and Penelope and Nayana lowered the plank at three. The same went for Holland that did not have the best start to round two as Albert Voorn and Tobalio hit the front pole on the oxer at eleven. Marcus Ehning and Plot Blue did not disappoint as the team’s first pair out though, and were clear again for Germany – it was a beautiful trademark round from this extraordinary pair.
As Germany’s second rider in the ring Meredith followed up on Marcus – this time with a great clear on the power house Bella Donna, putting the competing teams in the passenger seat at this point of the competition. When Reed and Cylana had two down, and Marie Hecart also saw the vertical at fence seven fall – it seemed very unlikely that anybody could threaten the Germans.
And this proved to be exactly the case. As all the third riders had left the ring, Germany was on a four penalty score after Hansi had the a-element in the first combination down – and nobody could beat them, no matter what their last riders would be up to. While Ludger Beerbaum could watch the rest of the competition from the sideline, Beezie and Kevin battled it out for the US and France though. Beezie – following up on team US’ third rider McLain Ward on Rothchild – was clear again on Cortes C – as was Kevin on Astoy Aqui de Muze. Their brilliant performances left both teams tied on twelve penalties overall, and the Americans and the French shared the second spot on the podium at Hickstead – while Germany for the third time this season jumped to the top of it.
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