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German Jumpers Victorious in Aachen

The host nation kept the opposition at bay to win the Mercedes-Benz sponsored fifth leg of the 2007 Samsung Super League with FEI series in Aachen, Germany on July 6, 2007.

Neck-and-neck with Switzerland on a zero score at the end of the first round the German team stood firm while their neighbors faltered and slipped back to second place. And on a testing night of jumping the Swedish team made a gritty recovery after a difficult opening round to finish joint-third with France while young Patrick McEntee produced a spectacular double-clear to secure fifth place for Belgium.

The USA slotted into sixth ahead of the surprisingly high-scoring Dutch in seventh while British Chef d'Equipe Derek Ricketts lived to rue his prediction of the previous evening as his side finished a resounding last when the pendulum swung in the wrong direction once again during this erratic season for the British.

There was a bonus to the German jubilation as Ludger Beerbaum celebrated his 100th Nations Cup competition with a first-round clear from Goldfever, and such was the strength of the German performance that he did not need to jump again in the second round.

Frank Rothenberger's track looked deceptively easy as the competition got underway although the time-allowed was changed from 84 to 86 seconds when the first three riders into the ring - Britain's Nick Skelton with Russel, Switzerland's Werner Muff with Plot Blue and America's Richard Spooner with Cristallo - all accumulated time penalties. As it turned out however it was more a case of these three being slow than that the time was tight because few others struggled with the clock, and The Netherlands' Albert Zoer made a nonsense of it when breaking the beam with Oki Doki in 79.78 seconds having just put a toe in the water in an otherwise clear round.

Bogey fence of the day was the last obstacle on the track, a treble which opened with a triple bar leading to an oxer and finishing with a vertical. And if it was tricky first time out it was even more so at the second attempt as many performances proved.

The British were vulnerable from the start, finishing round one with 14 faults on the board and trailed only by the Swedes with 16 after single errors from Helena Lundback (Madick) and Royne Zetterman (Isaac) and eight faults from Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Ninja la Silla) - Lotta Schultz's 12 with Calibra providing the discount this time out.

The Dutch collected nine faults despite a clear from anchorman Gerco Schroder with Eurocommerce Berlin and were lying sixth behind the USA, Belgium and France who all shared third place with eight faults at the half-way stage. At the head of affairs the Germans and Swiss were locked in combat - Muff, now on a zero score after his time faults were removed and Markus Fuchs and La Toya and Niklaus Schurtenberger with Cantus also fault-free, thus making it possible for fourth man Pius Schwizer to stand down with Nobless M this time out. Clears from Marcus Ehning and Noltes Kuchengirl, Christian Ahlmann and Coster and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum with Shutterfly meant there was no pressure at all on Ludger Beerbaum as he cantered into the ring. He didn't have to jump if he didn't want to, but he wasn't going to let this special moment slip away from him and the spectators went wild when their hero returned with a clean sheet and a very big smile on his face.

First into the ring in round two, Sweden's Helena Lundback was foot-perfect all the way to the bogey triple combination and then lowered just the final element for four faults, but when Zetterman and Bengtsson stayed clear Swedish prospects improved dramatically. The British meanwhile were unable to escape the effect of an 18-fault score from Skelton and 16 from David McPherson, hero of their victory in Rotterdam just two weeks earlier. Ellen Whitaker and Locarno again clipped the second element of the treble to complete with a personal tally of eight faults but when Michael Whitaker and Insul Tech Mozart des Hayettes added eight more to their single first-round scoreline the British total of 34 left them a very definite last.

The Dutch were badly hampered by three errors from Vincent Voorn and Audi's Alpapillon-Armanie and a 15-fault result from Marc Houtzager and Opium so that single second-round mistakes from Zoer and Schroder still left them with a final score of 29. And the Americans just couldn't seem to capitalize on their joint-third placing - losing their grip when Spooner returned with nine faults and Margie Engle with Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold followed a first-round four-fault effort with four fences down.

Second round double errors from Francois Mathy Jnr., Marc Van Dijck and Jos Lansink could have punished the Belgians a great deal more had McEntee's double-clear performance not been so impressive. Only Germany's Ahlmann and Michaels-Beerbaum would do the same. The French added 12 more to finish on a total of 20 and therefore on level pegging with the Swedish team.

When both first-line riders faulted once the Swiss and Germans could still not be separated but when Fuchs hit fence ten, last in the tricky straight line that ran from the oxer at seven to the water at eight to the vertical and nine and on to the oxer at ten, then Ahlmann's second clear from Coster began to give the home side the edge. And then Switzerland's Schurtenberger hit fence seven, landing in the water and hitting the following vertical plus lowering two more before leaving the arena. So when Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly went clear it was all over. Germany could finish with no more than four faults while the Swiss score was rounded up by just the very last pole down for Schwizer on his first tour of the arena.

"This was a really special feeling for me here tonight" said Ludger Beerbaum who first competed in a German team at Dublin Horse Show in 1985. "And I'm very grateful to my colleagues who made it very easy for me," he added. Michaels-Beerbaum congratulated her brother-in-law "we did our best for him today" she said, "and I really enjoyed riding Shutterfly this evening too - he did it all on his own."

German Chef d'Equipe Kurt Gravemeier said he was very happy with the result but he wasn't giving much away when asked if this team would be his choice for the European Championships next month. "No decisions now - we just want to enjoy today. I have other riders to consider and we still have to have our national championships before I make up my mind," he pointed out.

This was Germany's 24th victory at Aachen and their second success in the 2007 Samsung Super League with FEI series. Germany heads up the leader board by a nine-point margin with Switzerland in second and Belgium in third. The USA remains last, now separated from Sweden by 3.5 faults.

RESULTS:

1. GERMANY 4 faults: Noltes Kuchengirl (Marcus Ehning) 0/4, Coster (Christian Ahlmann) 0/0, Shutterfly (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) 0/0, Goldfever (Ludger Beerbaum) 0/DNS.

2. SWITZERLAND 12 faults: Plot Blue (Werner Muff) 0/4, La Toya (Markus Fuchs) 0/4, Cantus (Niklaus Schurtenberger) 0/21, Nobless M (Pius Schwizer) DNS/4.

Eq. 3 - SWEDEN 20 faults: Madick (Helena Lundback) 4/4, Isaac (Royne Zetterman) 4/0, Ninja La Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) 8/0, Calibra (Lotta Schultz)12/9.

Eq. 3 - FRANCE 20 faults: First de Launay (Florian Angot) 4/4, Ideal de la Loge (Roger-Yves Bost) 4/8, Itot du Chateau (Michel Hecart) 5/4, Ionesco de Brekka (Olivier Guillon) 0/4.

5. BELGIUM 24 faults: Sherry Mury Marais Z (Patrick McEntee) 0/0, Ivoire du Rouet (Francois Mathy Jnr.) 16/8, Verelst Goliath (Marc Vn Dijck) 4/8, Al Kaheel Spender S (Jos Lansink) 4/8.

6. USA 25 faults: Cristallo (Richard Spooner) 4/9, Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold (Margie Engle) 4/16, Sapphire (McLain Ward) 4/4, Authentic (Beezie Madden) 0/4.

7. THE NETHERLANDS 29 faults: Audi's Alpapillon-Armanie (Vincent Voorn) 8/12, Opium (Marc Houtzager) 5/15, Oki Doki (Albert Zoer) 4/4, Eurocommerce Berlin (Gerco Schroder) 0/4.

8. GREAT BRITAIN 34 faults: Russel (Nick Skelton) 6/12, Pilgrim 11 (David McPherson) 8/8, Locarno (Ellen Whitaker) 4/4, Insul Tech Mozart des Hayettes (Michael Whitaker) 4/8.

SAMSUNG SUPER LEAGUE WITH FEI - LEADERBOARD AFTER ROUND 5:

1. Germany - 35.75

2. Switzerland - 26.75

3. Belgium - 23.75

4. Great Britain - 21.50

5. Netherlands - 17.00

6. France - 15.25

7. Sweden - 13.00

8. USA - 9.50

Courtesy: The HorseTV Channel News, http://www.horsetv.com

 

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