The victorious German team. © FEI/Kit Houghton
Carsten-Otto Nagel riding Corradina for the gold medal winning German team. © Kit Houghton
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Ger)
Chris Chugg (Aus)
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).
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 13 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 US rider was lucky to return with just four further faults, at the first element of the penultimate double. But no matter what the rest of his team might do, the host nation's chances were lost.
Deslauriers said later: "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."
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 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 said. 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 them qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games in London along with today's medal winning sides from Germany, France and Belgium.
Belgian Chef d'Equipe Philippe Guerdat said: "we came hoping to get an Olympic qualifying spot - we never expected to take a medal!"
The top 30 riders from these three team rounds will move forward to the fourth individual qualifying round on Friday night at 5.30pm. From there, the top four riders will switch horses in the individual final on Saturday night. All four German riders will move forward to Friday night, as will all four French riders.
Kevin Staut is wearing a Green and Gold armband which bears the words "Number 1, The Rolex Rankings". Germany's Marcus Ehning was the first rider to be awarded the 'Green and Gold' and now Staut wears it in all competitions whilst he is the Number 1 ranked rider on the Rolex Rankings.
Rankings No 117 (30.09.2010):
1. Kevin STAUT (FRA) with 3406 pts
2. Marcus EHNING (GER) with 3243 pts
3. Pius Schwizer (SUI) with 3113 pts
10 nations competed in tonight's second round of the Jumping Team Championship.
This was the very first time that two lady riders competed on a German Championship winning team. German Chef d'Equipe Otto Becker said: "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!"
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum became the first lady rider ever to compete for Germany in a Championship when lining up in the European Championships in 1999.
Germany last won the FEI World Jumping Championship in Rome in 1998.
Gold - Germany, Total Score: 17.80
Silver - France, Total Score: 24.32
Bronze - Belgium Total, Score: 24.70
Philippe Le Jeune
4. Brazil (26.49), 5. Canada (27.93), 6. Sweden (32.18), 7. Australia (33.87), 8. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (35.48), 9. Great Britain (37.80), 10. USA (38.69).
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.