The Netherlands won the Mercedes Benz Prize, part of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2013 series at Aachen, Germany on Thursday night.
In yet another thrilling leg of this inaugural season, the result lay in the hands of the final few riders. And it was Gerco Schroder’s double-clear with the fabulous stallion London, the only one recorded on the day, that proved pivotal for the winning side when a last to go mistake from Ludo Philippaerts saw it slip from Belgium’s grasp.
This was always going to be an almighty clash, with the home team determined to rack up as many points as possible in their quest to qualify for the series final at Barcelona, Spain in September. The Dutch had a terrible day on their home turf in Rotterdam just a week ago where Germany reigned supreme, but this time revenge was sweet as the host nation had to settle for third place behind Belgium and it was the flag of The Netherlands that was flying high over the hallowed Soers Arena.
A total of eight nations lined up, and France slotted into fourth ahead of Ireland in fifth, Switzerland in sixth, Great Britain in seventh and Saudi Arabia in eighth place. There were only three team members in the Saudi Arabian side so they were always going to be under pressure, and they were already lying bottom of the order after the opening round as Frank Rothenberger’s imposing 12-fence track took its toll.
There was plenty to celebrate in the Dutch camp. The success has earned the valuable 100 maximum points and moved them up two places to third spot on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard which continues to be headed by the Swiss followed by France in second place. It was “mission accomplished” for Dutch Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens who said “we had mistakes in the first round but we fought back and the team did a marvellous job in the second round. I’m very happy about that!”
It was a particularly great day for Schroder who took the Furusiyya Rider of the Day award for his classic double-clear with the very handsome 11-year-old stallion London with which he claimed double-silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “I had two fantastic rounds. London was in great shape yesterday, I was going to jump him in a small class but I decided to go in the bigger one and he was brilliant. I’m really happy with him,” he said.
His team-mate, Harrie Smolders, said “it was fantastic how we came back in the second round. This morning we had some problems with our horses and my nine-year-old had to compete in his first Nations Cup of his life, so to win in Aachen is fantastic”.
Talking about the course Smolders said “it was great, but not a typical Aachen course because the fences came up very quickly and the course was not so long. For us though it was a great day!” Schroder agreed with Smolders’ assessment of Frank Rothenberger’s test. “It was a nice course, maybe everything came a little faster than we are used to, the time was quite short and if you lost time it was expensive – that made it more difficult,” he said.
It was certainly another great day in the history of the sport of Nations Cup Jumping and, with the Europe Division 1 series now really hotting up with only three further legs to go, the next round will take place in Falsterbo, Sweden two weeks time. There will also be a leg of Europe Division 2 taking place on the same afternoon at Budapest in Hungary so there is another feast of equestrian action in prospect on Friday 12 July.
1. Netherlands 14 faults: Sterrehof’s Tamino (Marc Houtzager) 9/0, Tyson (Leon Thijssen) 5/0, Emerald (Harrie Smolders) 9/9, London (Gerco Schroder) 0/0.
2. Belgium 17 faults: Desteny van het Dennehof (Gregory Wathelet) 20/DNS , Cortez (Nicola Philippaerts) 0/8, Bufero van het Panishof (Dirk Demeersman) 1/0 , Challenge v. Begijnakker (Ludo Philippaerts) 0/8.
3. Germany 21 faults: Codex One (Christian Ahlmann) 0/5, Cornet D’Amour (Daniel Deusser) 4/4, Bella Donna (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) 5/5, Chiarra (Ludger Beerbaum) 4/4.
4. France 23 faults: Orient Express HDC (Patrice Delaveau) 1/4, Old Chap Tame (Eugenie Angot) 1/4, Lord de Theize (Olivier Guillon) Elim/18, Quismy des Vaux HDC (Kevin Staut) 5/8.
5. Ireland 35 faults: Loughview Lou-Lou (Dermott Lennon) 5/5, Balloon (Shane Breen) 8/4 , Ballymore Eustace (Shane Carey) 8/27, Tinka’s Serenade (Billy Twomey) 9/5.
6. Switzerland 42 faults: Nasa (Steve Guerdat) 9/9, Never Last (Werner Muff) 17/13, Uptown Boy (Janika Sprunger) 5/9, Picsou de Chene (Pius Schwizer) 9/1.
7. Great Britain 48 faults: Titus ll (Guy Williams) 0/12, Voila (Robert Smith) 14/9, Tripple X (Ben Maher) 13/5, Unique (Tina Fletcher) 9/Elim.
8. Saudi Arabia 62 faults: Davos (HRH Prince Abdullah Al Saud) 5/5, Talan (Prince Faisal Al Shalan) 8/9, Al Capone (Ramzy Al Duhami) 21/14.