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Double Clear McLain Ward and Sapphire Lead United States to Second Place Finish Behind...

Germany in Samsung Super League de France

La Baule, France – May 5, 2006 – Germany was impressive once again today and held off seven other teams for the first win of the season in the Samsung Super League de France FEI. After numerous mistakes by other teams, the United States moved up from fourth to second place in the second round, helped by double clear rounds from McLain Ward and Sapphire.

Today’s class was a Table A in two rounds, Art. 264 class designed by France’s Frederic Cottier. The course featured stout jumps, a triple combination, and an impressive open water jump. Going by a draw for the first round, the United States went fourth with Germany following in fifth. Besides Sapphire and Ward, the other clear rounds were Tim Gredley (GBR) and Omelli (who were also double clear), Niklaus Schurtenberger (SUI) and Cantus, and Michel Robert (FRA) and Galet d’Auzay (double clear).

But it was Germany who set the crowd on fire by scoring just two time faults between all four riders in the first round. With a drop score, their first round score was only one fault. Behind them were France and Switzerland with nine faults, the United States with 12, and Great Britain with 14. Ireland scored 22 faults, the Netherlands had 23, and Sweden had 33 faults.

All eight teams returned for the second round in reverse order based on faults. Jeffrey Welles and Armani were very impressive as they jumped around fault-free. The Netherlands saw three of their riders jump clean, but they also picked up two time faults. Sweden, Ireland, and Great Britain saw their chances fade away as riders racked up rail after rail. It looked like a fight between Germany, France, and the United States.

Germany could not sit easy, as their first three riders had one rail each. It served as quite a surprise since all of their riders looked very strong in the first round, but Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher, and Otto Becker had less room in front of their competitors and more to worry about in the second round. France saw their first two riders, Florian Angot and First de Launay*HN and Michel Robert and Galet d’Auzay go clean.

Lauren Hough (USA) and Casadora had eight faults and were the drop score in the second round. After a somewhat wobbly first round, Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Wapino jumped high over the challenging course and only had four faults at the water jump in their second attempt at the course. McLain Ward’s second clear round of the day moved them up to third place with only France and Germany’s last riders to go. Their final total was 16 faults.

After France’s strong start, they saw their hopes of a win at home go down in flames as Christian Hermon and Ephebe For Ever *La Silla counted 17 faults to their name and Herve Godignon and Obelix had 12 faults. They had a final total of 21 faults.

With France at 21 and the U.S. at 16 faults, Germany had a total of 13 faults and could not be beaten. Marcus Ehning and Noltes Kuchengirl were considered the drop score for the second round, and Germany came away with 13 faults and the win.

German leader Ludger Beerbaum said afterwards, “It made us very happy and confident as a team.”

U.S. anchor rider McLain Ward explained why the team missed coming home with victory today. “I think Jeffrey’s horse jumped very well. He almost set the water jump up too well, and it was just a little casual. It was unfortunate. His horse jumped the same in the second round, it was just a little more luck on his side.”

He added, “Lauren rode her horse great, and Margie’s horse showed some greenness. It hasn’t really been exposed to this kind of venue. He rebounded in the second round.”

“I was very happy with the way she jumped,” Ward said of Sapphire. “She felt as solid as could be. She has quite a bit of experience now. She knows the game. As long as I can stay out of her way, she’s going to give a pretty good score. I just wish we could have beaten the Germans though.”

While finishing in second place is always a bit of a disappointment, today’s Nations’ Cup was a good way for the United States to get the experience that horses and riders need in the pressure-filled situation. “The Germans weren’t necessarily on their best horses, but nor were we. We didn’t have Beezie, who is a very strong member of our team. We’re building,” Ward explained. “These horses have to get the exposure. You can’t keep them in the other classes and expect them to figure out how to do this.”

As the year progresses, more new combinations for the United States will be put to the test in the Nations’ Cup format and the old faithful pairs will be there to lead the way. They will be ready for victory at every venue.

Official Results: Samsung Super League de France, CSI-5*, La Baule, France

1. Germany- Team Manager, K. Gravemeier, 1/12=13

L’Espoir, Ludger Beerbaum, 1/4

Montender, Marco Kutscher, 0/4

Dobel’s Cento, Otto Becker, (1)/4

Noltes Kuchengirl, Marcus Ehning, 0, (NS)

2. United States- George Morris, 12/4=16

Armani, Jeffrey Welles, 8/0

Casadora, Lauren Hough, 4/(8)

Hidden Creek’s Wapino, Margie Engle, (8)/4

Sapphire, McLain Ward, 0/0

3. France- JM Bonneau, 9/12=21

First de Launay*HN, Florian Angot, 4/0

Galet d’Auzay, Michel Robert, 0/0

Ephebe For Ever*La Silla, Christian Hermon, (9)/(17)

Obelix, Herve Godignon, 5/12

4. Netherlands- R. Ehrens, 23/2=25

VDL Groep Fleche Rouge, Leopold van Asten, 10/0

BMC’s Octavia, Jurgen Stenfert, (23)/1

Oki Doki, Albert Zoer, 5/(5)

Eurocommerce Berlin, Gerco Schroeder, 8/1

4. Switzerland- R. Grass, 9/16=25

La Toya II, Markus Fuchs, (12)/4

Cortaflex Gazelle Beauval, Gregoire Oberson, 8/(9)

Cantus, Niklaus Schurtenberger, 1/4

Unique X CH, Pius Schwizer, 0/8

6. Great Britain- D. Ricketts, 14/14=28

Russel, Nick Skelton, 5/1

Omelli, Tim Gredley, 0/0

Thesaura, Mark Armstrong, (13)/13

Exploit du Roulard, John Whitaker, 9/(17)

7. Ireland- R. Splaine, 22/13=35

World Cruise, Shane Breen, 6/5

Killossery, Capt. Shane Carey, 8/8

Effective, Edward Doyle, 8/0

Poncho, Conor Swail, (16)/(RET)

8. Sweden- H. Nooren, 33/25=58

Butterfly Flip, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, (EL)/8

Nostradamus 972, Svante Johansson, 12/12

Isaac, Royne Zetterman, 17/5

Spender S 1054, Maria Gretzer, 4/(NS)

This special report is a preview provided by PhelpsSports.com. Look for the debut of this new equestrian news website during the World Equestrian Games in August. Visit http://www.PhelpsSports.com for more information.

 

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