Germany’s 2012 Olympic “golden trio” cruised to an easy victory in the fourth leg of eventing’s FEI Nations Cup series in Strzegom, Poland, at the weekend.
The winning team included three of the world’s best combinations, Michael Jung, who won three competitions at the Polish venue, Dirk Schrade and Sandra Auffarth. Jung had his Olympic, World and European (2011) champion La Biosthetique Sam back at his very best to lead from the outset.
Sandra Auffarth’s Opgun Louvo, European team gold and individual silver medalist in 2011 and Olympic team gold medallist in 2012, is also back from a spell on the sidelines and finished second, and Dirk Schrade was third on his 2013 European team gold medalist, the delightful chestnut Hop And Skip.
The Germans, who won the inaugural FEI Nations Cup in 2012 and were second last year, missed the first two legs of this season but are now back in winning mode and are third on the leaderboard.
“We certainly had the ‘A team’ out and it’s great that they went so well,” team manager Christopher Bartle said. “It’s lovely to have Sam and Louvo back and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they all stay in good form.”
Great Britain, the only nation to have fielded a team at each leg so far this season, made the long journey to Strzegom, where they finished second of six teams, a result good enough to take them to the top of the leaderboard, nine points ahead of France.
Britain’s chef d’equipe Philip Surl has a deliberate policy of drawing from a pool of young riders who have not been on senior championship squads. Sarah Bullimore on Valentino V, Ros Canter (Zenshera) and newcomer Katy Hurst (Weston lV) put up solid performances to finish fourth, fifth and eighth respectively.
“The team posted excellent results all round with really solid performances from everyone. It definitely ranks up there as one of our best Nations Cup performances to date against a very strong German team overall,” Surl said.
The best of the Brits, and in the CICO competition overall, was Sarah Bullimore riding Valentino V, who finished in fourth place after the German trio. Nations Cup regular Ros Canter and her own Dutch-bred 10 year old gelding Zenshera (by Guidam) also put in an incredible effort to finish in fifth place, adding just three penalties in the cross country phase to their dressage test mark of 45, as well as jumping clear. Katy Hurst, who got her first taste of European Championships riding for Britain in the 2013 Two Star European Championships with her own and Lee McCarthy’s Dutch-bred 11 year old Gelding Weston IV (by Norway) made their Nations Cup debut, finishing in seventh place.
The Netherlands’ in-form Elaine Pen was sixth on Under Cover and led her team to third place, despite the loss of Tim Lips who withdrew Concrete Oncarlos when in 10th place after dressage.
Denmark and Italy swapped places after cross country, with the Danes moving ahead into fourth. The home side, Poland, had the misfortune to have two horse falls, both at the third fence.
Twenty-five of the 31 cross country starters completed German designer Rudiger Schwarz’s track, with 14 clear rounds, only three of which were within the optimum time of six minutes 44 seconds: Dirk Schrade plus two Dutch team members, Elaine Pen and Theo Van de Vendel on Zendane.
Germany’s Julia Krajewski, who was second after dressage on London-Return OLD, became her team’s discard score after two refusals at fence 21.
All the top five riders, plus Katy Hurst, went clear in the final jumping test.
The next leg of the FEI Nations Cup, at Aachen (GER), marks the halfway stage of the series and it’s expected that the competition will hot up as teams gear up for August’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy. The Germans, for whom Aachen is a final team trial, will be going all out for a strong showing in front of their home crowd. Britain has also selected several of its WEG squad members for this test.
• Michael Jung also won the CIC2* on fisherTakinou, and was second with Leopin FST. Jung’s Der Dante also won the short format CIC1*, with Sandra Auffarth and Thalia l’Amaurial. Auffarth’s Limetid Edition was also ninth.
Dirk Schrade took out the top two placings in the long format CIC1*, winning with Carlevo and placing second with Mr Tomtom. He also rode Boleybawn Prince into fifth place.
• British rider Nicky Roncoroni, who had finished individually in the Nations Cup event in 16th place with the Irish-bred Watts Burn, rode Stonedge to win the CCI3*, which went down to the wire in the final showjumping phase.
Roncoroni jumped a clear round on 10-year-gelding Irish bred gelding Stonedge to finish on 63.60 penalties. Only three other riders also managed a clear round. Second placegetter was Fioravan Stefano from Italy riding Nodin c’Orval, who finished with 11 penalties.
Joy and tears of happiness came from third placed of Poland’s Marta Gierlicz-Dziak on Vacate JP, her final result was 71.60 penalties. Her Strzegom result guaranteed her qualifications for Marta Dziak-Gierlicz to this year’s World Cup.
1 Germany, 122.8
Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam, 35.4; Dirk Schrade/Hop And Skip, 43.2; Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo, 44.2; (Julia Krajewski/London-Return OLD, WD Jumping)
2 Great Britain, 159.2
Sarah Bullimore/Valentino V, 47.4; Ros Canter/Zenshera, 48.2; Katy Hurst/Weston lV, 63.6; (Nicky Roncoroni/Watts Burn, 108.6)
3 Netherlands, 253.4
Elaine Pen/Under Cover, 56.6; Theo Van de Vendel/Zendane, 68.8; Althea Bleekman/Anmarsch, 128.0 (Tim Lips/Concrex Oncarlos, WD Cross Country)
4 Denmark, 323.0
Merete Thøgersen/Salza, 76.0; Irene Mia Hastrup/Constantin M, 91.8; Louise Niesen/Hooker Skorgaard, 155.2; (Vicky Mathieson/Dejo, RET Cross Country)
5 Italy, 367.8
Sara Breschi/Midolino, 86.0; Eleonora Boschi/Hotchkiss McManus, 115.6; Tosca Brambilla/French Boy, 166.2; (Andrea Cincinnati/NZB Cascade, WD Jumping)
6 Poland, 2,093.8
Wieslaw Nowak/Pau Grand Ewita, 69.8; (Jerzy Krukowski/Apokalipsa, EL Cross Country; Arthur Spolowicz/Baryt, EL Cross Country)
FEI Nations Cup Eventing Leaderboard (after 4 of 9 events)
1 Great Britain 36 points
2 France 27
3 Germany 20
4 Netherlands 17
5 Italy 13
6 New Zealand 11
7 Ireland 8
8 Denmark 7
9 Spain 6
10 Poland 5