What an evening in the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup 2021! An outstanding US team with three newcomers, a fall for the German team and a hot pursuit by the French team turned the Thursday evening at the CHIO Aachen into a nail-biting affair.
Finishing on just four faults, Robert Ridland’s US team won the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup 2021 in front of approx. 18,000 spectators, in other words precisely the amount that were allowed into the Stadium at the Soers in line with the Corona regulations.
The last time a US team rode to victory in Aachen was 16 years ago. In 2005, Laura Kraut remembers exactly, she was namely also a member of that squad. And her clear round in the second phase was the one that brought the team the victory. Whereby her colleagues had done fantastic groundwork.
Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, together with Laura Kraut team silver medallist at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, was the first rider to go and she jumped clear. Her team colleague Lucie Deslauriers (22) on Hester and the just 20-year-old Brian Moggre with Balou du Reventon followed suit. Which meant the four faults Kraut picked up were the scratch result.
In the second round, the Course Designer, Frank Rothenberger, put some of the jumps up and made some of the others wider. That was a turning point for some teams. As the first to go for the USA, Springsteen picked up eight faults. This left a rise of hope for the other teams. Deslauriers collected four faults, Brian Moggre put in a sensational round and jumped double clear. Up until then the USA’s total score was four faults. Since they were in the lead after the first round, the USA team were the last to go in round two.
The Swedish team comprising of Petronella Andersson on Castres van de Begijnakker Z, Jens Fredricson on Markan Cosmopolit, Annika Axelsson riding Cleo Z and Angelie von Essen with Alcapone des Carmille had four faults in both rounds, so they finished on a total score of eight faults.
That meant for Laura Kraut: If she jumped clear, the USA would win, if she knocked a pole there would be a jump-off, two or more poles and Sweden would claim the victory. Laura Kraut: “When Brian told me, if I didn’t ride clear there would be a jump-off against Sweden, I couldn’t stomach that so I made sure I didn’t knock a pole.” Because precisely that situation arose at the Olympic Games, which ended with gold for Sweden and silver for the USA. Fortunately, she was able to rely on her Baloutinue.
Whereas the Cornet Obolensky son had been pretty strong in round one (Kraut: “I don’t think he has ever been in such a situation with so many spectators before.”), he was much easier to ride in the second round. And after she had jumped the last fence clear, her team colleagues hugged each other and cried for joy on the Rider’s Stand.
Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland: “Winning here is a pinnacle! We came very close a couple of times before. Even while we were still in Tokyo we couldn’t wait to get back to Aachen, because we had been waiting for it!”
Second place went to Sweden on a total score of eight faults. The French team finished third on twelve faults, eight of which they picked up in the first round and then they also “lost” a team member when Laurent Goffinet’s Atome des Etisses took an aversion to the triple combination and was eliminated. So, they only had three riders left. And nevertheless, unlike their fellow competitors they managed to only pick up four faults in round two.
The German team also only had three riders left in the game. Whereby everything got off to such a promising start. Daniel Deußer and Killer Queen jumped a fantastic clear round right at the beginning. Then, Marcus Ehning was due to ride second. But unfortunately, he and his horse À la Carte NRW fell while warming-up. It was a serious fall, but the paramedics were at hand immediately. Ehning went to hospital for a check-up, but returned to the stadium shortly afterwards. He and his stallion are both fine, just slightly shaken. Christian Ahlmann with Clintrexo Z and David Will with C-Vier collected several faults in the second round and the German team ultimately finished sixth.
National coach Otto Becker: “Yes, it certainly was a roller coaster evening. It was a special situation this evening and I don’t blame the team at all. We will simply try to do better next time!”