An in-form German team reigned supreme in the FEI Nations Cup Eventing at Waregem in Belgium, taking their fifth successive victory in the series.
The Germans now have a 10 point lead over Great Britain, which finished second at Belgium’s premier event, the eighth and penultimate competition in Nations Cup series.
Andreas Ostholt, riding Pennysylvania 28, Anna-Maria Rieke (Petite Dame), Andreas Dibowski (FRH Butts Avedon) and Josefa Sommer (Hamilton 24) finished first, third, sixth and seventh respectively.
Dibowski was also second overall on his other horse, Hans Dampf.
Although the Germans led after the dressage and jumping phases, 12 faults from dressage leader Dibowski narrowed the gap between the two leading nations so that it came down to a mere four time penalties at the start of cross-country.
Sarah Bullimore (Lilly Corinne) and Nicky Roncoroni (Stonedge) both achieved the optimum cross-country time and finished the competition in fourth and fifth places to give Britain an obvious chance of challenging for the lead, with fifth-placed Lucy Wiegersma going last for the team on Mr Chunky.
However, Wiegersma withdrew the horse before cross country due to a minor injury, so Britain had to count the score of their pathfinder, 12th-placed Tom McEwen on Diesel, who had 10 time faults, and settle for second place.
Wiegersma’s Mr Chunky knocked himself in the lorry during the short drive to the cross country site of the event. “It is nothing serious but of course very unlucky for Lucy who was in with a good individual shot,” said team manager Philip Surl.
Ireland rose two places after cross country to finish third, with Wiegersma’s partner Padraig McCarthy getting a fine tune across country on her former ride, Simon Porloe, to finish in 10th place.
The home side, Belgium, made their first appearance in the FEI Nations Cup Eventing this year and took fourth place. France, down to two riders after Margot Chabanne (Mitou de Mas) had a rider fall at fence 5 and Arnaud Boiteau (Sultan de la Motte) was eliminated for cumulative refusals, slipped to fifth place.
The cross-country course, designed by Waregem’s Event Director Tom Ryckewaert (BEL), provided an exciting climax to the competition. The track was straightforward and on perfect going, but its undulations and changing cambers meant that horses needed to be in perfect balance, and the time was influential. There were 39 clear rounds from the 49 cross-country starters, with 10 inside the time.
The action now moves to the always popular Dutch venue of Boekelo in a fortnight’s time for the CCIO3* final of the FEI Nations Cup Eventing 2014, and the big question has to be whether any other country can prevent the seemingly unstoppable Germans running away with this series and scoring a record sixth consecutive win.
1 Germany 163.2 penalties
Andreas Ostholt/Pennsylvania 28, 50.3; Anna-Maria Rieke/Petite Dame, 53.6; Andreas Dibowski/FRH Butts Avedon, 59.3; (Josefa Sommer/Hamilton 24, 63.1)
2 Great Britain, 180.5
Sarah Bullimore/Lilly Corinne, 53.9; Nicky Roncoroni/Stonedge, 57.8; Tom McEwen/Diesel, 68.8; (Lucy Wiegersma/Mr Chunky, WD before Cross Country)
3 Ireland, 214.8
Padraig McCarthy/Simon Porloe, 64.9; Fraser Duffy/Primus 209, 71.9; Jonty Evans/Double Dutch, 78.0
4 Belgium, 214.8
Kris Vervaeke/Victor van Steenkerke, 71.7; Julian Despontin/Waldano 36, 75.9; Karin Donckers/Lady Brown, 83.9; (Joris Vanspringel/Limestone, WD before Cross Country)
5 France, 1,132.00
Antoine le Pape/Oscar de Ravelet, 64.6; Geoffroy Soullez/Madiran du Liot HN, 67.4; (Arnaud Boiteau/Sultan de la Motte, EL Cross Country; Margot Chabanne/Mitou de Mas, EL Cross Country)
FEI Nations Cup Eventing Leaderboard (after 8 of 9 events)
1 Germany 64 points
2 Great Britain 54
3 France 50
4 Ireland 22
4 Italy 22
6 Netherlands 20
7 New Zealand 18
8 Denmark 14
9 Sweden 13
10 Belgium 7
11 Spain 6
12 Poland 5
13 Australia 4