The German team was completely unbeatable in the second leg of the Top League in Rome, and reigned the competition from start to finish. The Germans ended on a four fault score, and Ludger Beerbaum didn’t even have to ride the last round as their win was already secured. With a strong team that consisted of Marco Kutscher on Cornet Obolensky (Clinton x Heartbreaker), Christian Ahlmann on Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor), Marcus Ehning on Copin van de Broy (Darco x Brownboy) and Ludger Beerbaum on Gotha FRH (Goldfever x Prestige Pilot) the Germans proved to be just as good in practice as they looked on paper. Cornet Obolensky and Taloubet Z jumped two fantastic rounds, and only had one unlucky pole down each – Cornet in the second round and Taloubet in the first. Copin van de Broy was double clear with Marcus – and jumped seriously impressive, as did Gotha FRH who was clear as well.
Switzerland fought their way up in true gladiator style in the second round. They stood on an eight penalty score after round one, but climbed up in round two with three clear rounds. Paul Estermann had a great day at the office with a double clear on Castlefield Eclipse (Obos Quality), as did Simone Wettstein on Clipmyhorse Cash and Go (Cash and Carry x Concerto II) as well as Clarissa Crotta aboard West Side van Meerputhoeve (Baloubett du Rouet x Apollonios) who both were clear in round two. After such good performances, the Swiss team ended second.
The previous leg’s winners Belgium managed to produce a good result yet again and ended third. It must have been a lot of emotions today, as Ludo Philippaerts’ father Antoon passed away earlier this week – and Ludo, Olivier, Nicola and Jos Lansink all rode with black armbands. Ludo paid tribute by riding a clear first round on Challenge VD Begijnakker (Chellano Z x Palestro VD Begijnakker), as did his son Olivier on the lovely stallion Cabrio van de Heffink (Cassini I x Calato). Jos Lansink and the power house Valentina van’t Heike (Nabab de Reve x Lys de Darmen) were also clear in the second round, after an unlucky fence down the first time around.
While the Germans made light work of the course at the Piazza di Siena, others struggled. Apart from Billy Twomey’s great double clear on a very well jumping Tinka’s Serenade (Tinka’s Boy x African Drum), as well as a first clear from Shane Sweetnam, there was little to cheer for. Niall Talbot was lucky to walk out of the course on his own feet after a bad fall which saw him crashing with his face in the b-element in the triple combination, and understandably he did not ride the second round. The Irish team ended on a 32 penalty score, with Sweden behind on 28. Although Angelica Augustsson and Henrik von Eckermann produced two lovely clears in the first round, things changed quickly as Angelica got in trouble when Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A) froze completely ahead of fence number three and simply refused to move forward. After several attempts to get the chestnut mare forward, Angelica was sadly eliminated.
The course build by Uliano Vezzani did not look like the trickiest, but it certainly disguised its difficulties on first sight. Faults spread out, but many got in trouble in the huge triple combination that consisted of a vertical-oxer-oxer – the later two were massive and the horses really had to stretch. Eventually some also got tired in the second round, with the heat probably playing some part in the glorious Italian weather – and many horses had faults on the oxer at ten, or at the combination at 11a and b in the second round.
The Netherlands and Great Britain both ended on a 24 penalty score, and the highlight for Britain was Scott Brash’s double clear on Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve). France did not manage to produce a top result this time around either and ended up with 20 penalties after uncharacteristically high penalty scores from Kevin Staut in the first round, and Patrice Delaveau in the second.
The Italians got to compete in today’s Top League leg as hosts, and really gave the home crowds value for money. A double clear – one of the five of the day – for Francesca Capponi on Stallone (Ahorn x Joost) made the audience go completely off the hooks, and when Juan Carlo Garcia also rode clear in the second round it boiled in Rome. The home team ended up on a good rank four with 16 penalties.
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