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Posted by Equestrian Australia on 07/06/2013.

FEI Nations Cup Eventing: Germans are invincible in Aachen again

Germany wins FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing in Aachen 
(left to right): Sandra Auffarth, Michael Jung, Dirk Schrade, Andreas Dibowski with Chef d’Equipe Hans Melzer.

It was a case of deja vu in Aachen (GER) as the German team repeated their achievement of 12 months ago with an emphatic win in their home leg of the FEI Nations Cup Eventing and Australian star Christopher Burton again took the individual honours.

The German team riders held their nerve in the final dramatic reverse-order Cross Country phase. All four went clear, despite the rain-soaked conditions on Rudiger Schwartz’s (GER) influential course, and they finished an impressive 48 penalties clear of Great Britain.

Having won the opening leg of the series, at Fontainebleau (FRA), and finished second behind Britain at Houghton Hall (GBR), Germany retains the lead at this midway stage of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing season.

Their team manager Hans Melzer described it as “an incredible performance”. He added: "Aachen is an absolute must for the eventers, which is why we brought our best team with us. In the end, the result was closer than we expected."

Burton, who led the Australian team to fourth place, was the only rider to achieve the optimum Cross Country time of seven minutes and to finish on his Dressage score. In a fairytale result, he announced that this would be Holstein Park Leilani’s last competition as the 17-year-old mare is to be put in foal.

“The weather and ground conditions played into my hands as she is fast and goes well in wet weather,” explained Burton, 31. “The Australians have no championships this year so we take Aachen especially seriously. I’m thrilled to win as the Germans are so successful at the moment.”

If German anchorwoman Sandra Auffarth had been one second faster across country she would have beaten Burton to the individual honours. But the Olympic gold and bronze medallist, who led the Dressage and Jumping phases on a brilliant score of 31.8, explained that her horse Opgun Louvo had lost a shoe, which is why she opted for caution with her lines.

Her team mates Andreas Dibowski (FRH Butts Leon), Dirk Schrade (Hop and Skip) and Michael Jung (Halunke) finished in fourth, sixth and seventh places. Kristina Cook (GBR), whose Olympic silver medallist Miners Frolic disappointed in the Dressage at Badminton, proved he is back on track with an excellent all-round performance in fifth place.

The British team moved up from fifth after Dressage to second with three clear Jumping rounds. However, they were still some 20 penalties in arrears of the Germans at this stage and they failed to close the gap during the final phase – in fact the gap was widened considerably – after Izzy Taylor and KBIS Briarlands Matilda had a run-out at the influential fence 8b, a brush corner in the Rolex Water. The Australians lost their second place after Dressage when Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo, who were second to Auffarth after this phase, ran into difficulties across country. They slipped behind the Swedes, who also had Cross Country problems. Their best rider was newcomer Frida Andersen (Herta), who had one of the fastest Cross Country rounds of the day.

For once, New Zealand, fifth, didn’t have the best of days. Badminton winner Jock Paget had a Cross Country run-out with Clifton Lush and Andrew Nicholson and his Kentucky winner Quimbo glanced off 8b. Nicholson was clearly struggling with rain on his glasses and ended up taking them off and tucking them into his number bib.

One of the happiest riders was Joseph Murphy, best of the sixth-placed Irish team with a fast clear on Electric Cruise. “I was delighted to see the rain!” he said. “It suits me and my horse. This was a real rider’s course, not that big dimensionally but very tricky. There was quite a lot of sand on the track and that became dead which meant you couldn’t really ask the horse to quicken.”

The American team failed to finish after Marilyn Little was unseated from RF Smoke On The Water at 8b and Will Faudree had the misfortune to fall at the very last fence with Pawlow.

As the European teams now focus on the forthcoming HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships at Malmö (SWE) in August, at which the Germans look clear favourites, there is a break until the last three legs of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing series, which resumes at Montelibretti (ITA) in September. Last month’s Polish leg at Strzegom had to be cancelled due to wet weather.

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