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Home win for Germany in the €1.000.000 Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen

Friday, 01 July 2022
CHIO Aachen 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The winning German team in Aachen: Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann, Andre Thieme, Jana Wargers and Christian Kukuk with Chef d'Equipe Otto Becker. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Germany took a popular home win in Thursday’s €1.000.000 Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen, followed by Belgium in second and Great Britain in third. 

Eight teams had lined up for the prestigious Nations Cup in Aachen; Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, USA and Belgium. After the first round, Switzerland and Germany were tied in the lead with only a single penalty point each and trailing close behind were Belgium and Great Britain on four faults – making it tight on top. Further down was France and Netherlands on 12 faults, then Brazil on 16 and last year’s winners USA on 17.

Frank Rothenberger’s (GER) twelve-fence track looked deceptively easy when Ben Maher and Faltic HB (Baltic VDL x Concorde) posted a clear as pathfinders in round one of the Nations Cup, but as the competition progressed it turned out it was certainly no walk in the park. While faults spread out, it was especially the penultimate triple combination at 11abc coming home down towards the final Mercedes-Benz upright that caused problems for the horses and riders – and many saw their dreams of a clear round shattered here. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Double clear for the German team: Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann and Messi Van't Ruytershof. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

As the floodlights came on for the second round, the battle was on between Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. Ben Maher and Faltic HB came close to posting a double clear for the Brits, but unfortunately a pole on 11b hit the ground and left the two on four faults. Rising star Harry Charles and Romeo 88 (Contact vd Heffinck x Orlando) kept the British team in the game though when delivering a double clear round, and when Scott Brash on Hello Jefferson (Cooper vd Heffinck x Irco Mena) – that had a rail down in the triple combination the first time out – also kept all the fences intact, Great Britain’s best possible score would be four depending on a clear from their anchor rider John Whitaker.

Belgium also kept the pressure on with a clear from Nicola Philippaerts and Katanga vh Dingeshof (Cardento x Tornedo FCS), followed by four faults from Wilm Vermeir on IQ van het Steentje (Toulon x Kannan) and a double clear from the ultra-consistent pairing of Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Reve x Candillo 3) – leaving the Belgians level with the Brits ahead of the fourth riders in the ring. 

Leading the way were Germany; after a clear in round one, Jana Wargers and Limbridge (Limbus x Cambridge) had the back pole on the oxer at no. 8 down but when Christian Kukuk and Mumbai 3 (Diamant de Semilly x Nabab de Reve) posted a clear the second time out after eight faults in round one, and Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann jumped double clear with the wonderful Messi Van’t Ruytershof (Plot Blue x For Pleasure), the home team kept their lead. With another clear from their anchors Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria (Chap 47 x Askari 173) they would be able to drop Warger’s four faults, and take the win with only one penalty from round one. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Christian Kukuk and Mumbai helped Germany to the win with a clear in round two of the Nations Cup. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Switzerland, sitting in the lead ahead of the second round, had a good start when Steve Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy (Open Up Semilly x Djalisco du Guet) posted a double clear, but unfortunately things fell apart for the Swiss team when Brian Balsiger had four rails down on Dubai du Bois Pinchet (Kashmnir van Schuttershof x Andiamo) after a clear the first time out, and Pius Schwizer saw two poles fall – dropping them down on a best possible score of nine as the anchor riders were getting ready to enter the ring at Soers. As last to go for Switzerland, there was not much Martin Fuchs could do and with a pole down on 9a from the world no. one, the Swiss finished on 18 faults to take the fourth place. 

If Whitaker and Wathelet both would manage to post clears for Great Britain and Belgium, leaving them on four faults, the pressure would pile for Germany’s Thieme who under such a scenario had no room for error – three time penalties and it would be a tie, anything more would mean the Germans would drop behind the Brits and Belgians. 

All eyes were on the 66-year-old Whitaker as he entered the ring, but unfortunately the quest for victory ended at the open water as Equine America Unick du Francport (Zandor x Helios de la Cour II) splashed in, and then added another four faults at the a-element of the triple combination – making this the drop-score and leaving Great Britain on a total of eight penalties. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Double clear for the second placed Belgian team: Jerome Guery and Quel Homme de Hus. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

It was looking good for Belgium as Wathelet and his grey stallion Nevados S (Calvados Z x Romualdo) left jump after jump up, but again it was the triple combination that caused trouble and a rail on the b-element hit the ground – just as it had done for so many others. With Wathelet’s four faults coming into the count, Belgium was left on eight penalties overall, but with a slightly faster time than Great Britain they slotted in ahead – leaving the victory to Germany who with their four faults from round two added to the one from the first, did not even have to send their anchor Andre Thieme in the ring. 

“I was the one who told Otto that I would want to be on the team here and now I am glad that I did, because for the last two days I was doubting myself a bit – why did I do this?” Thieme said after the win. “It is way more pressure than people think, when it comes down to that moment, when you are the last to go and your team needs that clear round, all those riders know how that feels… I was very happy with my first round, but I was much happier with my second round!” the reigning European Champion joked. 

Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann delivered the only double clear for Germany and was over the moon with her 10-year-old Messi van’t Ruytershof. “I have had Messi since he was five, we always believed in him,” Meyer-Zimmermann said. “He has always been a super jumper, very scopey, but he is also very sensitive. In the beginning, he was very shy in the warm-up and sometimes we decided to not ride a show, if a warm-up was too small or we were expecting him to be too shy. At home he always showed what he can do and as a young horse, he already showed his abilities. Now many ask me where I have this horse from, if it is a new horse, but for me, we are like an old couple. I know him inside out, and I think it is really a dream horse for me. He is a big horse, but sensitive inside, he can do everything, he is scopey and careful. I am really excited about him.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A double clear from Harry Charles and Romeo 88 helped the Brits finish third. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“It is just amazing to be here, to ride in that ring and to be on the Nations Cup team,” Jana Wargers said. “I was the first to go on the team, but my horse is unbelievable and I trust him so much, he gives me such a good feeling. I was sure that he would do a great job, so it was actually easy for me.”

“I am very happy with the second round; I think it was one of the best rounds we ever had and it makes me very proud to sit here at the press conference as a winner with the German team. It is definitely a very good evening!” Christian Kukuk concluded. 

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