He said afterwards:
“I am not sure if I really deserved the win to be honest as I couldn’t go out there and prove it. Thanks to my three team-mates that looked really strong and safe today.”
There’s always an element of unpredictability about competition at Hickstead as the massive arena and its big, bold fences can be intimidating to both horses and riders. Added to that is the undulating ground and a 4-metre-wide open water that is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But the Germans made it look easy in both rounds and the Dutch kept pace with them up to the halfway stage.
Course designer, Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater, set a track that included three doubles but no triple combination. The two-stride Longines double at fence three caused few problems, but the one-stride double that followed claimed plenty of scalps as did the delicate vertical at fence five. The notorious Hickstead planks at six were next, followed by a water-tray oxer at seven, and then a 360-degree turn led to the line that included a white oxer at eight, the open water at nine and another one-stride double at fence 10 before the last line of a vertical to the Longines oxer.
Ludger Beerbaum had plenty of time to see it all play out, and said:
“it was a really well set Nations Cup in the end. The first round was straightforward, not too difficult with a good time allowed (87 seconds). But I guess we didn’t really see the “first” teams of the teams here because of Rio (Olympic Games) around the corner. So the course designer had a reason for setting it up this way. The second round was tougher and it was what differentiated the teams from each other in the end.”
There wasn’t a lot separating the eight nations at the halfway point, the Americans trailing the rest of the field with 12 faults on their account, while the Swiss carried eight and the Irish, Italians, Belgians and British were all just a single fence adrift of the leading Dutch and Germans.
The Americans rallied brilliantly with three clear rounds second time out and the Swiss added just four to complete on a total of 12. The double-clear round – one of five on the day – provided by Anthony Condon and the stallion Aristio underpinned the improvement for the Irish who ended up also adding just four more to their scoreline. The Italians however, on a high after their sensational victory in Dublin seven days ago, came crashing down when their star of the Irish fixture, Lorenzo de Luca, had to retire with Ensor de Litrange. The 12-year-old gelding who was double-clear to help secure that Dublin victory before going on to add the Dublin Grand Prix title lost his jump later on the track, and de Luca pulled him up after collecting 12 faults. That would be a problem, because all three of his team-mates collected eight faults each to send Italy plummeting down the leaderboard.
The Belgians meanwhile held firm despite a 10-fault effort from Catherine Van Roosbroeck whose mis-communication with Gautcho Da Quinta at the first element of the double at 10 led to a stop that had to be added to a pole off the oxer at seven. Niels Bruynseels (Cas de Liberte) and Karel Cox (Cor van de Waterhoeve) were both double-clear however, so only the single error from Olivier Philippaerts (H&M Challenge de Begijnakker Z) at the Hickstead planks had to be added to their tally.
Lost their grip
The British lost their grip with single errors for both Ben Maher (Diva ll) and Tim Stockdale (Fleur de L’Aube) and double-errors for Jessica Mendoza (Spirit T) and Scott Brash (Hello Guv’Nor) but the biggest surprise was the deterioration of the Dutch who went from zero to 28 faults with a series of expensive rounds. Pathfinder, Wout-Jan van der Schans, made it all the way to the final oxer before hitting that with Aquila SFN, but all of his three team-mates collected 12 faults each, and the open water played a major role. Johnny Pals’ Fernando took a long-distance dislike to it this time out and also hit the penultimate vertical, while Ruben Romp’s round with Audi’s Teavanta ll included a foot in the water and mistakes at the second element of the following double as well as the last fence. And then Jur Vrieling’s VDL Glasgow VH Merelsnest, who had put in a huge, spooky jump at the water first time out, threw in an objection at it this time, and although his Rio-bound rider got him over it at their second attempt, they also hit the first element of the double.
In comparison it was a breeze for the Germans, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s fabulous grey, Fibonacci, soaring round the track with effortless ease both times out while Janne Friederike Mayer and her feisty gelding Goja, did likewise. Patrick Stuhlmeyer’s Lacan hit the oxer at seven, but that single fence on the floor would not send Ludger Beerbaum into the ring. The result was already in the bag, and it was Team Germany right on top.
Ludger Beerbaum said:
“we were under some pressure as we didn’t have such a great Nations Cup season before coming here. The other two results we had were average so it could have easily been that we would have missed out of the Final. When you see today’s performance, it is a really big relief to know we are going to Barcelona and we are all very happy and satisfied to have qualified.”
The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in September is a big target for all the top horses and riders.
“We were on the borderline as far as qualifying for Barcelona was concerned so we needed a strong team here and we and came up with it!” said Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum who described jumping Fibonacci as “almost like you are flying over the fences!”
German Chef d’Equipe, Otto Becker, was a happy man this evening:
“Yes it was fantastic for us today. I am very happy and pleased with my team. Meredith opened the door for us in in a difficult situation (as pathfinder), Janne with a double clear and Patrick with a clear in the first round. Ludger was disappointed in not being able to jump in the beginning but now he is happy! We were under pressure with points for the standings, but all the guys here really did the job and deserved the victory today”
1. Germany 4 faults: Fibonacci 17 (Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum) 0/0, Goja 27 (Janne Friederike Meyer) 0/0, Lacan 2 (Patrick Stuhlmeyer) 0/4, Chiara (Ludger Beerbaum) DNS/DNS.
2. Ireland 8 faults: Molly Malone V (Bertram Allen) 4/4, Diaghilev (Billy Twomey) 0/4, Aristio (Anthony Condon) 0/0, Golden Hawk (Shane Breen) Ret/0.
2. Belgium 8 faults: H&M Challenge vd Begijnakker Z (Olivier Philippaerts) 4/4, Gaucho Da Qinta (Catherine van Roosebroeck) 8/10, Cas de Liberte (Niels Bruynseels) 0/0, Cor van de Wateringhoeve (Karel Cox) 0/0.
4. USA 12 faults: Super Sox (Lillie Keenan) 4/0, Adare (Paris Sellon) 4/4, Dougie Douglas (Katherine Dinan) 4/0, Cornet 39 (Lauren Hough) 8/0.
4. Switzerland 12 faults: LB Eagle Eye (Christina Liebherr) 4/4, Capuera ll (Nadja Peter Steiner) 4/0, Cordel (Claudia Gisler) 0/8, Pollendr (Werner Muff) 4/0.
6. Great Britain 20 faults: Dive ll (Ben Maher) 4/4, Fleur de L’Aube (Tim Stockdale) 0/4, Spirit T (Jessica Mendoza) 0/8, Hello Guv’Nor (Scott Brash) 4/8.
7. Italy 28 faults: Casallo Z (Piergiorgio Bucci) 4/8, Ensor de Litrange (Lorenzo de Luca) 0/Ret, Ares (Emilio Bicocchi) 4/8, Antonio (Gianni Govoni) 0/8.
7. Netherlands 28 faults: Aquila SFN (Wout-Jan van der Schans) 0/4, Fernando (Johnny Pals) 12/12, Audi’s Teavanta ll (Ruben Romp) 0/12, VDL Glasgow VH Merelsnest (Jur Vrieling) 0/12.
Full result here
Facts and Figures:
The Hickstead showgrounds in Sussex, Great Britain – home to the world-famous Hickstead Derby – was the venue for today’s eighth and last leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2016 series.
Team Germany came out on top in convincing fashion when finishing with just four faults and without calling up their final horse-and-rider combination, Ludger Beerbaum and Chiara, in either round.
The Netherlands shared the lead with the eventual winners at the halfway stage but finished joint-last with Italy after a drama-filled second round.
5 double-clear rounds – Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci) and Janne Freiderike (Goja), Ireland’s Anthony Condon (Aristio) and Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels (Cas de Liberte) and Karel Cox (Cor van de Wateringhoeve).
Course designer was Great Britain’s Kelvin Bywater.
12 fences including a 4m wide open water and three doubles. No triple combination on the track.
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER):
“I think my horse jumped beautifully today. We had a great team. It’s very rare that the last rider doesn’t have to jump! My horse jumped beautifully and I’m very happy to be part of this team.”
Patrick Stuhlmeyer (GER):
“My horse did an amazing job today. I am very proud. The course was very long and the obstacles were big but I think the course was fair in the end.”
Janne Friederike Meyer (GER):
“I’m really happy with my horse because we honestly had a bad season at the start. It was hard for me and him to get back in shape. In Falsterbo he was able to jump double clear, as he did here, and I was well ranked in the Grand Prix in Aachen.
After he won the German Riders Tour, we decided to give him (Goja) a break – it was over Christmas – and maybe because he hadn’t jumped in a while then maybe that’s where it came from….he is just 10, and we took a lot of time to get back in shape in the middle of the season. Anyways, we are now there! Otto always tells me to take the time, especially when you are in an Olympic year, but it’s great now!”
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) talking about being selected as reserve for the German team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games:
“I thought we would be on team for Rio but when the nominated entries came out in Aachen I was reserve, not even the fifth rider because two of the team have two horses so really I was the seventh rider.”
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) talking about her horse, Fibonacci:
“he has such power and scope, there’s no course in the world he can’t jump, I believe he’s one of the best horses in the world! It’s taken a while to get together with him but the rideability is there now, it doesn’t matter what comes up he can jump anything. Some people says that he’s big, especially for me, but he’s not that big. He looks 17.2 hands but that’s because he has such an amazing stride.”