Germany swept to a crisp, clean victory in the Team Jumping Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA tonight. And a new page of jumping history was written, when, for the very first time, a victorious German Championship side included two lady riders. Janne Friederike Meyer and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum joined forces with Carsten-Otto Nagel and Marcus Ehning to clinch gold ahead of France in silver and the surprising Belgians who took bronze. The Belgians have been competing in the Promotional League in recent seasons, but, already set to return to the top-level Meydan FEI Nations Cup™ series in 2011 after topping the rankings in the second-division series this year, they must now be considered a serious force to be reckoned with once again.
Today the Germans did it in the best way possible when producing three zero scores from their first three riders. Last man in was Ehning who picked up four faults with Plot Blue, but as he said tonight "thanks to my team I was already a World Champion before I went in!". The French rallied brilliantly to snatch silver. They were lying fifth overnight, but World No. 1 Kevin Staut was furious with himself about his opening effort on Monday and was determined to make amends. His last-to-go clear with Silvana de Hus was the clincher when added to a faultless run from Olivier Guillon and Lord de Theize and just a single error from both Penelope Leprevost (Mylord Carthago) and Patrice Deleveau (Katchina Mail).
Couldn't Hold On
The first-day leaders from the USA were lying third going into today's decider, but they couldn't hold on to a medal position when Lauren Hough's 12-fault opening effort with Quick Study was followed by thirteen from Mario Deslauriers and Urico. Things fell apart for the former Canadian when he crashed through the triple bar which replaced the open water on the track that was otherwise little changed from yesterday's first round except for increased height and width. And the American was lucky to return with just four further faults, at the first element of the penultimate double. No matter what the rest of his team might do, the host nation's chances were lost however.
Lying fourth, the Canadians looked like they might sneak up the order when pathfinder John Pearce produced a foot-perfect round from Chianto. But 12 faults from Yann Candele (Pitareusa) and nine for Jonathon Millar (Contino) halted their progress and despite a copybook round from Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead the Canadians slipped a place instead of improving.
As the competition unfolded the Brazilian team, lying second overnight, were right in the mix - Rodrigo Pessoa's clear with Rebozzo followed by just single errors from Pedro Veniss (Amaryllis) and Alvaro Miranda (AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan) - and when Bernardo Alves entered the ring with Vancouver D'Auvrey silver was hanging in the balance. Alves was lucky at the last element of the combination at five and managed to make it all the way to the bogey second-last, the double at 12, where he fell victim to the second element.
By then the Germans were already champions. Meyer's tour of the track was, as always, exciting due to the enormous power and enthusiasm of her 12 year old gelding Cellagon Lambrasco while Nagel's round was a total contrast - quiet and ordered, precise and little short of fabulous as his 12 year old grey mare Corradina took it all in her stride. And Michaels-Beerbaum made it all look very elementary too with the 15 year old Checkmate who soared around the course with consummate ease. Ehning's mistake, when hitting the plank at fence eight which followed the massive triple bar, was of no consequence from a team perspective, but he goes into Friday's top-30 semi-final in 27th place while it is Pessoa who now heads the individual leaderboard.
Le Jeune's brilliant double-clear in the team competition has raised him to second place ahead of Nagel in third, Lamaze in fourth and Pearce in fifth. The range of riders in the top 11 going into the next stage of the individual challenge is fascinating, as it includes Olympic silver medallist Rolf-Goran Bengtsson from Sweden in sixth, Sydney Olympic bronze medallist Khaled Al Eid in seventh, Ireland's Billy Twomey in eighth and Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Sharbatly, riding the former Italian team mare Seldana di Campalto who was stunning again today, in ninth. Staut lies tenth while the relatively unknown Chilean, Christian Santis, is in 11th place with Fanatico de Huincul.
Germany's Marcus Ehning said tonight "I've had an unbelievable year winning the Rolex FEI World Cup™ final with two horses, the Global Champions Tour with three horses and now this!" Meyer she could hardly believe the situation she was finding herself in either. "I'm so happy to ride on this team - Meredith, Marcus and Carsten-Otto are my idols. Now I'm looking forward to having some beer and wine so that I wake up tomorrow morning wondering why I'm feeling so bad and then I'll remember - because I'm a World Champion!" she joked.
German Chef d'Equipe Otto Becker said he was delighted with the result because his country has not won gold for 12 years "and that's a long time!" he pointed out. Michaels-Beerbaum talked about balancing her life as a jumping rider with being mother to baby Brianne who she describes as "a good luck charm" for herself and the German team. And she perfectly described the challenge set out for the teams today. "The fences were bigger, there was no fault between the top seven teams and there was a lot of pressure on the riders so that created a lot of excitement - it made for a great competition, and now we are pleased and proud" she said.
The Brazilians and Canadians might have been disappointed to finish out of a medal position tonight but they have the consolation of knowing that their efforts this week have earned qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games in London along with today's medal winning sides from Germany, France and Belgium.
FEI TV - As well as live competition coverage throughout the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, FEI TV will make all competitions available post-event via VoD, plus an exclusive daily 30-minute VoD highlights show from the Kentucky Horse Park featuring the best of the day’s action, interviews, previews and reviews. There will also be lots of behind the scenes footage available. Check out www.feitv.org
Facts and Figures:
10 nations competed in tonight's second round of the Jumping Team Championship.
This was the very first time for two lady riders to compete on a German Championship winning team.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum became the first lady rider ever to compete for Germany in a Championship when lining out in the European Championships in 1999.
Germany last won the FEI World Jumping Championship in Rome in 1998.
America's Mario Deslauriers, talking about his crash through the triple bar at fence 7 tonight with Urico - "He’s an aggressive horse and he’s really willing to do anything. I think for sure he scared himself a little bit trying to over jump that triple bar like he did. He caught the rail quite hard and then he stepped on himself. He stumbled and got a little bit of a shock on his feet. He was a good trooper to try and finish the course well. It was a little bit of struggle but he got himself over."
Otto Becker, German Chef d'Equipe - "I was wondering if it would be OK (to have two lady riders on his team) but they paid everything back and so it's all fine!"
Kevin Staut, French silver medal winning team "I was so angry with myself to ride so badly in the Speed class. Today I was fighting more than ever - my first goal was to qualify for London and now that I have this medal it is great for everybody".
Belgian Chef d'Equipe Philippe Guerdat - "we came hoping to get an Olympic qualifying spot - we never expected to take a medal!"
ALLTECH FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES™ - JUMPING, TEAM FINAL AND INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Team: 1 (Gold) Germany 17.80; 2 (Silver) France 24.32; 3 (Bronze) Belgium 24.70.
Individuals after three rounds of jumping: 1, HH Rebozo (Rodrigo Pessoa) BRA 2.80; 2, Vigo D'Arsouilles (Philippe Le Jeune) BEL 3.11; 3, Corradina (Carsten-Otto Nagel) GER 3.24; 4, Hickstead (Eric Lamaze) CAN 3.39; 5, Chianto (John Pearce) CAN 3.70; 6, Ninja la Silla (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 5.37; 7, Presley Boy (Khaled Al Eid) KSA 6.20; 8, Tinka's Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 6.54; 9, Seldana di Campalto (Abdullah Al Sharbatly) KSA 7.07; 10, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA 7.81.
Full results and startlists at www.alltechfeigames.com
Photo Caption: Germany stormed to victory in the Team Jumping Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA tonight. Pictured left to right - Carsten-Otto Nagel, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning and Janne-Freidericke Meyer. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.
Otto Becker German Chef D'Equipe German Version http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Becker_German.mp3
Otto Becker English http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Becker_eng.mp3
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Meredith_6_10.mp3
Olivier Guillon-French Version http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Guillon_6_10_french.mp3
Olivier Guillon _ English http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG-Guillon_6_10_english.mp3
Jos Lansink http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Lansink_6_10.mp3
Christian Santis (Spanish) http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Santis_6_10_spanish.mp3
Chris Chugg http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Chugg_6_10.mp3
Billy Twomey http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/WEG_Twomey_6_10.mp3