The world of showjumping has an exciting two weeks ahead with two legs of the Top League running. First off will be Falsterbo on Friday before the series travel on to Aachen.
The Chef d’Equipes seem to have chosen somewhat different team-strategies for the two competitions. Aachen is known as the biggest and most prestigious show besides the championships, and most of the countries are represented with the best they have to offer.
As both France and Germany have had to struggle over the first legs in the Top Series, they are sending strong teams to Falsterbo as well as aachen. France will be represented by Kevin Staut, Michel Robert, Simon Delestre, Pénélope Leprevost and Patrice Deleveau in Falsterbo. For Aachen, Henk Nooren has only made one change as Olivier Guillon will replace Deleveau. It's simply the creme de la creme of French showjumping.
In Falsterbo the German team consists of Christian Ahlmann and Ludger Beerbaum who both have proven to be in a fantastic form lately, together with three other great riders; Carsten-Otto Nagel, Marco Kutscher and Jörg Naeve. As the Germans have plenty of top riders to choose from there will be a couple of changes for Aachen where Janne-Friedrike Meyer and Marcus Ehning are riding together with Ahlmann, Beerbaum and Nagel. All riders are bringing their top horses.
The Dutch team has a strong overall lead in the Top League with their 23.5 points, and they have a good chance to maintain their lead as they are taking Piet Raymakers Jr, Leon Thijssen, Maikel van der Vleuten, Albert Zoer and Vincent Voorn to Falsterbo. Rob Ehrens has decided to change the entire team for Aachen though, and is sending a strong troop consisting of Jeroen Dubbeldam, Gerco Schröder, Jur Vrieling, Eric van der Vleuten and Marc Houtzager - all of whom are taking their very best horses.
The Irish team has done a good job over the first rounds and is second in the series with 19 points. For Falsterbo Robert Splaine has called out Shane Breen, Niall Talbot, Cian O’Connor, the young and talented Nicola FitzGibbon as well as having top rider Denis Lynch back on the team. O’Connor has recently sold all of his top horses, but has been able to borrow his old ride Splendor from it’s owner Ahmed Tolba for the show. Denis Lynch and Shane Breen will continue on to Aachen where they will team up with Billy Twomey, Dermott Lennon and Shane Sweetnam. The question is of course if the Irish can repeat their win from last year.
Philippe Guerdat has decided to send a quite young Belgian team to Sweden. This does not mean we won’t see some really good Belgian riders in Falsterbo as the team consists of Niels Bruynseels, Patrick Spits, Pieter Devos, Jéròme Guery and Francois Mathy. The bronze-team from WEG will be in Aachen with Philippe le Jeune, Jos Lansink, Judy–Ann Melchior, Dirk Demeersman and Rick Hemeryck. The team is third on the leaderboard with 18 points, only one single point behind Ireland, but on the other hand there is only one point down to Great Britain on fourth.
Rob Hoekstra is taking a mixed team to Falsterbo consisting of two veterans; Peter Charles and Tim Stockdale, together with Robert Whitaker and the up and coming riders Simon Crippen and Bruce Menzies. Michael Whitaker, Scott Brash, Guy Williams, Robert Smith, and Nick Skelton - who has enjoyed a great run of form lately - will be riding in Aachen.
The Americans have had some up and downs and are currently number five on 11.5 points. The team for Falsterbo is Christine McCrea, Charlie Jayne, Schuyler Riley, and two newcomers; Saer Coulter and Lucy Davis. In Aachen they should have every possibility to fight for some good points with a topped team consisting of some of the most experienced riders in the world; Margie Engle, Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward.
Denmark will be represented by two different teams over the two weekends. In Falsterbo we find Torben Frandsen, Tina Lund, Christian Schou, Thomas Velin and Linnèa Ericsson. In Aachen the team consist of Charlotte Lund, Andreas Schou, Thomas Sandgaard, Rikke Haastrup Pedersen and Emilie Martinsen.
The home-team, Sweden, is in the Promotional League this year, but are able to compete as they are hosting the show. They have some great riders though, and it might look like they are on their way back to the Top League for 2012 as they top the Promotional League after last weekend’s leg in Finland. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson has taken home two Global Champions Tour victories in June, and the wonderful winner of the World Cup in Gothenburg, Angelica Augustsson has proven over the last months that her win was no coincidence. The Swedish team also has Malin Baryard-Johnson and Peder Fredricson, two fantastic riders with good results over the last months. Sweden won in Falsterbo last year, and with this team they might as well do it again.
Top League standings can be found here.
Full riders list for Falsterbo; go here.
Full riders list for Aachen; go here.
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