Germany Jumping for Joy... Almost
The second of the 2007 FEI European Jumping Championship at Mannheim was certainly an exciting one. It was the day of the first round of the Nations Cup in which took part all riders and horses who had participated in yesterday’s speed competition. Eighteen teams fought all they could to secure a place in the top ten as only the ten best teams will continue tomorrow in the second round of the Nations Cup.
As a result of today’s competition, Germany is firmly in the lead with a team score of 5.18 and clear rounds from three of its riders – Christian Ahlmann / Cöster (2.53 – after yesterday’s speed competition and today’s Nations Cup); Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum / Shutterfly (1.54); and Ludger Beerbaum / Goldfever (1.11). It was another black day for the fourth team rider Marcus Ehning. Noltes Küchengirl wasn’t in a patriotic spirit and categorically refused to jump the first element of the triple combination representing the German flag at 12 and after a second such refusal, the pair were eliminated.
The Netherlands, whose all four riders went clear today, keep their yesterday’s score of 7.37 and move one place up to take the second position. Switzerland follows closely in third place on 8.13.
The ten teams to proceed to tomorrow’s second round are:
1. Germany (5.18)
2. The Netherlands (3.37)
3. Switzerland (8.13)
4. Great Britain (10.43)
5. Belgium (12.45)
6. Sweden (14.65)
7. Norway (17.26)
8. Spain (17.69)
9. Ukraine (17.96)
10. Italy (18.53)
Today concentration was at its highest as there was more at stake than ‘just’ the European medals. Indeed, the three slots for next year’s Olympic Games still available for European teams will be filled by the three best placed teams from the 2007 FEI European Jumping Championship. This excludes The Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine and Switzerland who qualified at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen. It was a sad day for prominent show jumping countries like France and Ireland who, being 12th and 13th respectively, do not continue the team competition. It will be something of an unwelcome novelty to France not to take part in the team Olympic competition. The last and only such ocurrence had taken place back in 1932 at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The economic crisis had severely hit the old continent and no European teams could afford the voyage overseas. Only the United States, Japan and Mexico had had Jumping teams that year.
The individual placings remain unchanged from yesterday: Chritina Leibherr (SUI) on L.B. No Mercy is still in the lead with a crystal clear penalty-free score. Ludger Beerbaum on Goldfever (1.11) is second and Austrian Stefan Eder on Cartier PSG kept his nerve through a clear round and is third (1.12). The best 50 riders continue in the second round of the Nations Cup towards the individual final.
Once again Christa Jung had done a fabulous job with the course which could boast exquisite artistic presentation. Very clever and colourful, it was big enough without being a killer. The sand arena had been transformed into a botanical garden where plants of every size and shade of green were placed on and around the 13 fences (16 jumping efforts), some of which were inspired by typically European motives. Brussel’s Atomium, which is one of the symbols of Belgium, was in the opening position. Union Jack and the London Tube proudly decorated the triple bar at number 3. The flag of the European Union was symbolised by the star-strewn blue bars of the oxers at the double at 6. Fence 11 sported typical cottages as side poles and bars the colours of Sweden in between. And of course, right in the middle sat a massive treble the colours of the German flag. The wonderful design and minute attention to detail contributed to the day’s spectacular outlook.