Fairytale end for Beerbaum as Germany win FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2016 title
Germany claimed the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2016 trophy and sealed the perfect send-off for Ludger Beerbaum on an emotional night of equestrian at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain.
The destination of this year’s title came down to a jump-off between Great Britain’s newly-crowned individual Olympic champion Nick Skelton and Germany’s Marcus Ehning, and it was the Germans who prevailed to provide Ludger Beerbaum with the fairytale ending many had hoped for in his farewell performance.
Beerbaum played his part as it took a trademark foot-perfect performance from the show jumping legend with his last-to-go round on Casello to ensure the two-way showdown.
Team USA claimed third place when finishing with just four faults on the board, with Italy, Ireland and Switzerland finishing close behind with five faults as the time-allowed played its part. The defending champions from Belgium had to settle for sixth place ahead of The Netherlands.
Once again course designer Santiago Varela presented a testing track that took a lot of jumping and saw the majority of mistakes came at the end of the course.The eight teams that qualified from Thursday’s first round all started on level scores again meaning it was a wide-open contest from the start.
It quickly became apparent however that the British would be major contenders when Skelton’s opening clear with his Olympic gold-medal-winning ride Big Star was followed by another from Michael Whitaker and Viking.
Under the unique set of rules for the Furusiyya Final each country nominates a total of five riders and it was notable that the top three teams all called up new recruits today for their four-member sides. British Chef d’Equipe, Di Lampard, brought in Jessica Mendoza and Spirit T in place of John Whitaker and Ornellaia, but with 12 faults for the youngest team member it fell to Scott Brash to rescue the situation with a clear round on Ursula which saw his side post the first zero score of the competition.
And the only ones to match them would be the Germans, although they also had to wait for their last man to go. World number one, Christian Ahlmann set them up with clear round on Taloubet Z, but they stuttered when Marcus Ehning’s Pret a Tout incurred four faults. Janne Friederike Meyer, called up to replace Daniel Deusser and First Class van Eeckelghem, steadied matters with a clear round on Goya which meant that if Beerbaum could follow suit, the Final would be decided by a jump-off with their British rivals.
The tension was evident with everyone willing the 53-year-old rider on his last appearance for his country to go around the arena and out on a good note. And the German legend duly delivered, coming across the line with a clear round to receive rapturous applause ensuring the Final would go to a thrilling finale.
USA were already assured of third place. Lauren Hough’s four faults with Ohlala were followed by a double-error from Audrey Coulter and Capital Colnardo before 19-year-old Lillie Keenan pulled it back with a fantastic clear from Super Sox. Called in at the last moment to replace Lucy Davis’ Barron, Keenan really measured up under pressure and when Laura Kraut was also fault-free with Zeremonie then the USA total of four faults would drop them in behind the two teams now vying for the title.
Skelton was first into the jump-off and went clear around the new track in 41.82 seconds to set the target. This would ensure a generous share of the €200,000 bonus on offer to riders jumping double-clear over the first round and again today.
It was now all down to Ehning and with Pret a Tout the pair galloped down to the last more than two seconds up on the clock to clinch a poignant victory for the German team and provide Beerbaum with the perfect send-off from the team.
The Longines Challenge Cup, cancelled due to bad weather on Friday, has now been rescheduled for Sunday morning. The starting time for the competition is provisionally 11.30, but that will be confirmed depending on the weather conditions.
1. Germany 0 in first round, 0/39.80 in jump-off
2. Great Britain 0 in first round, 0/41.57 in jump-off:
3. USA 4 faults
4. Italy 5 faults/ 223.03 seconds
5. Ireland 5 faults/225.81 seconds
6. Switzerland 5 faults/226.34 seconds
7. Belgium 16 faults:
8. Netherlands 20 faults