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Third consecutive win for Germany in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen

Friday, 20 July 2018
CHIO Aachen 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Team Germany won the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

The Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen had the home crowds biting their nails and hanging on to the edge of their seats as German maestro Marcus Ehning showed why he is the anchor-man every team wish they had, when producing the clear round that was needed tonight to seal the deal – and take the victory for the hosts for a third consecutive year.

“If you win once here, you want to win every year,” Ehning – who also was a part of the winning team in 2017 and 2016 – said. “Now it worked out the last three years, so I am more than happy.”

It was a rollercoaster of a competition tonight in Aachen, on a picture-perfect summer evening – with the team standings getting a real shake up during round two.

After the first round, two teams were left on a zero-penalty score: The Dutch and the Swiss – both impressive for different reasons. The Dutch saw their four horse-and-rider combinations going clear, while the Swiss team only had three members – hence no drop score – and every one of them were without faults.

Belgium trailed close behind on a single penalty, after dropping the four faults from Nicola Philippaerts. Then followed the hosts on four faults – after two clear rounds from their young riders Laura Klaphake on Catch Me If You Can (Catoki x Acordplus) and Maurice Tebbel on Chacco’s Son (Chacco-Blue x Falkenhof’s Lancer). Ireland were sitting on five faults, USA on eight, Italy on nine and France on sixteen.

The 1.60m course set by Frank Rothenberger was relatively straightforward and fair, and caused little controversy. No less than fifteen pairs jumped clear in the first round, and two couples had a time fault only – out the 32 in the class. With twelve fences, which included an open water at six followed by a double of uprights as well as a triple combination at 11abc with an oxer-vertical-oxer – the track turned out to not take too much out of the horses the first time around although some ran out of diesel in round two.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Laura Klaphake was double clear for the German team with Catch Me If You Can. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

As always, the atmosphere in Aachen was one to create goose-bumps with the spectators celebrating every single clear – perhaps the German ones a bit more than the rest, almost lifting the sunlit evening sky with the sound of their applause.

When Simone Blum returned as pathfinder for the hosts in round two with a clear on the powerhouse DSP Alice (Askari x Landrebell), the crowds went wild – Germany was definitely kept in the game. Next to go, Nicola Philippaerts followed up for Belgium however – with his clear round the pressure was on those to come.

For the two leading teams, it did not go as fluent as in the first round. Leopold van Asten had to see the front pole on the oxer at no. nine fall to the ground aboard VDL Groep Beauty (For Pleasure x Contender), while Werner Muff had two down on Daimler (Canturano x Lupicor).

As the second rotation of riders got underway, Ireland made their bid clear as Darragh Kenny returned faultless on Babalou 41 (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I) – following Shane Sweetnam’s single time-penalty on Chaqui Z (Chacco-Blue x Quinar Z) .

The Germans kept a small gap however, with crowd favourite Laura Klaphake producing one of the three double clears of the class. And, when Yves Vanderhasselt recorded five faults for Belgium, Maikel van der Vleuten eight for Netherlands and Paul Estermann four for Switzerland – it looked as if the tables could be turning.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Clear on the fences in both rounds, but with a time fault in each, Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z was the best pair for Ireland to help them to second place. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson

However, as third in the line-up for the teams, Ireland’s Cameron Hanley had to add eight faults to his score, Maurice Tebbel four – while Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet saw it fall apart with twelve faults. Marc Houtzager on the other side only notched up a time penalty on Sterrehof’s Baccarat (Padinus x Silvio I), keeping it close on the top. With one rider to go for each team, Ireland would be on six penalties as their best result, Netherlands on five and Germany on four should all the anchors go clear.

Cian O’Connor delivered for Ireland, riding them up to a podium position with a clear round on the exuberant Good Luck (Canturo x Furioso II). Now, the question was – would Marcus Ehning be able to do the same after having four faults the first time around aboard Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy)? Keeping his cool, Ehning demonstrated his ability to ride with zero nerve – to bring the victory home to the Germans to standing ovation.

With Belgium and Switzerland out of the game, it was now up to Frank Schuttert and Chianti’s Champion (Champion Du Lys x Capitol I) for the Dutch: A clear round would secure the runner-up position with one point separating them from Ireland. Luck was not on Schuttert’s side however, as the back pole on no. five fell to the ground – with Netherlands having to settle for the third place on a total of nine faults behind the Irish.

Dutch Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens was far from disappointed though, saying: “What we all saw tonight was amazing, with so many people here and I must say it was a tremendous good class!”

One who agreed on that was Germany’s Laura Klaphake – double clear for Germany – who said: “A dream came true today. It was always my dream to ride on the team in Aachen one day, and then to win was just amazing!”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The Dutch ended third, with their best pair being Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof's Baccarat. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.


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