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Thrills and spills from the 2023 Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at CHIO Aachen, part two

Tuesday, 04 July 2023
CHIO Aachen 2023

As always, the CSIO5* Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen was exciting to the very last fence was jumped, in large thanks to the many twists and turns the second round had to offer as well as the electric atmosphere created by the sell-out crowd. And, as the lights came on in the main ring at Soers, the Nations Cup night was taken to the next level...

Here we look back at the thrilling class, a close affair where a pole separated the Swiss from the Brits and the Belgians. It was Martin Fuchs and the impressive 10-year-old gelding Commissar Pezi who sealed the deal for Switzerland with a double clear round as anchors, and here Fuchs' long-time groom Sean Vard [was there even a time without you Sean, we can't even remember?] celebrates with Fuchs' long-time supporter Luigi Baleri who owns Commissar Pezi.

Photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Luigi Baleri and Swiss Chef d'Equipe Michel Sorg. "It is a dream come true. Winning the Nations Cup in Aachen is what all the fans of this sport dream of,” Sorg said.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Watching is nerve-wracking, even after years and years in the sport. Here Ben Maher's groom Derren Lake multi-tasking as Dallas Vegas Batilly jumps his second clear of the Nations Cup, helping the British to move up the scoreboard to eventually finish second after three clears in round two.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Well-deserved treats for Dallas Vegas Batilly, who jumped one of six double clears in the Nations Cup.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Ahead of round two, the Brits were sitting behind France, Switzerland and Sweden separated by a single rail tied with three other teams on eight penalties. But, then the tables started to turn – first with a double clear from Ben Maher and Dallas Vegas Batilly, and then with a clear from Harry Charles and Romeo 88 on their second attempt at the course...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ ...and a double clear from Scott Brash and Hello Jefferson.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ And as the tables turned, so did the mood on the British team!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Koen Vereecke and Kassanova de La Pomme celebrating a fantastic clear in round two, which helped Belgium get off to the best possible start.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The Belgians continued to put pressure on the teams in front; Gregory Wathelet and Ace of Hearts jumped clear as their third pair in the ring.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ While Nicola Philippaerts and Katanga vh Dingeshof posted a double clear as anchors for Belgium, to leave them on a score of eight just behind Britain with the total time as the decisive factor, it fell apart for the German, US, Swedish and French teams.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Watching the Nations Cup is a nerve-wracking affair. Here Hansi Dreher is in the ring, recording four faults with Elysium. Despite clears from Jana Wargers and Marcus Ehning in round two, the Germans could not stay in touch with the teams in contention for the podium and finished 5th on twelve faults.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Hansi Dreher, Jana Wargers and Gerrit Nieberg watching Mario Stevens.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A well deserved treat for Callas who was double clear with McLain Ward for the 4th placed American team.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It did not go quite as the Swedes had hoped for. After sitting up in front on four penalties after round one, poles started to fall in round two and the team finished 6th on 20 faults. Below Wilma Hellström's mum watching anxiously.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ After Steve Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy had delivered a double clear to get the Swiss team off to the best possible start, their second man in the ring – Schurtenberger – had a massive score of 23 faults, leaving Edouard Schmitz and Martin Fuchs with no room for error. France had seen Simon Delestre finish on a score of four and Megane Moissonnier jump double clear with her wonderful Cordial, meaning it was still very much a battle between Switzerland, France, Belgium and Great Britain – the three latter a pole away from the Swiss team. But Schmitz bounced back after eight faults in the first round to deliverer a clear in the second aboard Gamin van’t Naastveldhof, keeping the pressure at a max.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ An emotional Schmitz leaving the ring.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ When a pole on the last upright fell for France's Simon Delestre and Dexter Fontenis Z, the pressure increased on their last three riders.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Agony... Jennifer Hochstadter takes in Delestre's extremely unlucky rail which prevented the French rider from a double clear.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ For Megane Moissonnier and Cordial it was a fantastic evening! The two jumped double clear for France, showing everyone just how special their partnership is.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Until their third rider in the ring, France kept contact with the podium. But, for Marc Dilasser the Nations Cup ended in the worst thinkable way as he parted ways with his lovely Arioto du Gevres on the last fence. Luckily, both horse and rider escaped the fall without any injuries and bounced back later in the week to end third in the Allianz Prize.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Thankfully Arioto was co-operative and found his groom by the exit.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It all came down to Martin Fuchs who had to jump clear with his 10-year-old Commissar Pezi to secure the win. One down, and there would be a jump-off between the teams on eight faults. "Before the last line I started to get a bit nervous, it was only two more fences to jump and if I would be clear we would win the coolest Nations Cup there is,” Fuchs told after delivering for the Swiss team.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Pure joy on the Swiss team, who had last won the Nations Cup of Aachen in 2022.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Alain Jufer and Steve Guerdat.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Fanny Skalli Guerdat gives her husband a big hug!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ And Guerdat hugs Niklaus Schurtenberger!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Martin Fuchs was of course all smiles.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Kisses for Venard...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ ...cuddles for Gamin...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ And more hugs!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Michel Sorg and Martin Fuchs.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Emma and Venard.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Gamin, Thibault and Edouard.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ More hugs and kisses!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The team behind the team! Jenny, Thibault, Luigi, Sean, Anne, Emma, Fran and Tessa celebrating.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The winning team!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ When it rains in Aachen, it pours.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Harry Charles caught by surprise by the sudden wet weather that arrived just on time for the prize giving ceremony.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Michel Sorg taking it all in. “I have had the chance to come here as a spectator many times, so to stand here today in the middle of the stadium with this amazing team is an honour and it has not quite sunk in yet,” Sorg said after the win.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs, double clear for Switzerland. Congrats guys!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The 2023-winners of the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen: Switzerland!

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