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Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum wins the “Best of Champions” in the jump-off

It might peeve the men a little, and their better halves definitely knew it beforehand: The “best of the best“ is of course a female. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Thedinghausen) won the jumping competition with rotation of horses at the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen 2009 today – beating three men. The 39-year-old Amazon may have had to ride against the Swedish show jumper Rolf-Göran Bengtson in the jump-off in the proceeds, but after a courageous clear round and above all a fast one, she secured herself the victory on her mare Kismet in a time of 50.21 seconds ahead of Bengtsson on Kiara La Silla, who crossed the finish line in 52.67 seconds. Both picked up four faults in the regular round, curiously enough Michaels-Beerbaum collected the faults with her own mare. Four riders traditionally contest the “Best of the Champions”: The current Olympic gold medallist (this year Eric Lamaze was represented by the Olympic silver medallist Rolf Göran-Bengtsson), the reigning World Champion (Jos Lansink), the European Champion (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) and the winner of the Grand Prix of Aachen from the previous year (Albert Zoer). First of all the riders have to complete the course with their own horses and then which each of their competitors.

The Dutch rider Albert Zoer, came third after knocking over a fence with the horses of both Michaels-Beerbaum and Bengtson. The World Champion, Jos Lansink, only jumped once, because he retired after the first round after having two refusals with his own horse, Vainqueur. “The stallion has never refused a jump in his life,“ the Belgian rider said regretfully. “But there were so many shadows next to the triple combination that Vainqueur spooked, on the second attempt he had obviously lost his confidence, which was a real shame.“

The beaming winner also thought it was a pity: “It was a shame I would have enjoyed riding Vainqueur. Last year I jumped clear with the stallion. Unfortunately, something frightened him,“ said Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who was nevertheless visibly elated about her victory and added with a wide grin: “I am extremely pleased that as a woman, I was able to prove that I am the best.“ The European Champion of 2007 felt particularly at home on Albert Zoer’s mare, Uraya. “This horse suits my style of riding well, I wouldn’t mind having her in my yard.“

The Dutch rider would certainly have something against that, whereby he too cast an eye on his fellow-competitor’s horse. “We both like horses that are high in blood that have a lot of forward impulsion, where the riders just have to remain still and wait for the jump to come. Our two horses are quite similar,“ explained Albert Zoer, who won the ROLEX Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen last year.

Bengtsson was also comfortable on Kismet, but he paid his own mare Kiara La Silla, a 10-year-old Swedish-bred mare, the greatest tribute. “She simply performed fantastically with me and the other two riders. I must compliment my horse here. Although one must also do justice to the riders for mastering the task so efficiently. It was great fun riding in this competition,“ he added.


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