Germany Wins Jumping Team Gold, France Silver, Belgium Bronze

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German jumping team at the World Equestrian Games showing off their gold medals
German jumping team at the World Equestrian Games showing off their gold medals. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Oct. 6–Germany was nearly perfect to win the team gold medal with France taking the silver and Belgium bronze at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Wednesday night.

Germany posted just 17.8 fault with France on 24.32 and Belgium with 24.7.

Ten teams started the final round under the lights of the Rolex Stadium, after jumping a speed round on Monday and then on Tuesday nearly the same course to narrow the field down from the original 27 teams. France entered the final round in fifth place while Belgium was eighth.

The first-day leaders from the USA were lying third going into Wednesday’s decider, but they couldn’t hold on to a medal position when Lauren Hough’s 12-fault opening effort with Quick Study was followed by 13 from Mario Deslauriers and Urico. Things fell apart for the former Canadian when he crashed through the triple bar which replaced the open water on the track that was otherwise little changed from Tuesday except for increased height and width.  And the American was lucky to return with just four further faults, at the first element of the penultimate double. No matter what the rest of his team might do, the host nation’s chances were lost however.

“Twelve years is a long time ago, and there have been exciting years since then,” said Otto Becker, the German chef d’equipe. “All the riders and all the grooms, and the whole German federation, is fantastic to work with, and tonight’s victory is the result.”

This was the first time a German championship team has ever include two women, and both Meredith Michaels-Beerbaumon Checkmate, and Janne-Fredericke Meyer on Cellegon Lambrasco, jumped faultlessly. Carsten-Otto Nagel contributed the third faultless round, on Corradina, taking all the pressure off fourth rider Marcus Ehning, who lowered one rail on Plot Blue.

“It was a very brave decision to put two women on the team for the first time, but in the end I trusted them, and they paid everything back,” Becker said.

“We made history tonight,” said Michaels-Beerbaum, 40, who was the first woman ever to ride on a German team, at the 1999 European Championships, a year after her husband, Markus Beerbaum, rode on the 1998 gold-medal team. “This is also the firs also the first time a German team has ever included a mother,” added Michaels-Beerbaum, who has an infant daughter, Brianne.

Meyer was savoring her first team medal. “For me, this is unbelievable. Meredith and Marcus are idols to me. I need lots of beer and wine tonight to celebrate, and I will have a really bad day tomorrow,” she said.

The French and Belgian riders said they had not expected to stand on the medal podium in the Rolex Arena tonight.

French anchor rider Kevin Staut contributed faultless rounds Tuesday and Wednesday, but he lowered one rail and finished in a slow time on Monday. “I was so angry at myself to ride so badly in the speed class, so I knew I had to fight for the team after that. The first day was completely a disaster, and to have a medal after that is great for everyone,” he said.

Belgium was eighth entering the final round, but only 4.9 faults behind the leading Germans. Still, chef d’equipe Philippe Guerdat wasn’t optimistic. “We didn’t expect to take a medal. We had only hoped to make the final on Monday,” he said.

The other the top 10 teams were: 4. Brazil (26.49), 5. Canada (27.93), 6.  Sweden  (32.18),  7. Australia (33.87), 8. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (35.48),  9. Great Britain (37.80), 10. USA (38.69).

The top 30 riders from these three team rounds move forward to the fourth individual qualifying round on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. From there, the top four riders will switch horses in the individual final on Saturday night. All four German riders and all four French riders move forward.