Britain’s Mark Armstrong finished second in the FEI World Cup jumping qualifier in Amsterdam on Sunday (28 January). Markus Beerbaum from Germany won the qualifier aboard Leena, securing his place at the FEI World Cup final in Las Vegas in April. Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson took third position.

“It’s fantastic,” Beerbaum said afterwards. “It was very close, there was so little between the top few and Leena was very good today. The course suited her because you needed to add strides and that’s the way she likes it.”

A total of 14 combinations from seven nations made it into the jump off, including four from Germany and three from Holland. Sweden’s Helena Lundback took the early lead with Madick but their four-penalty round was soon trumped by Yves Houtackers and the 14-year-old stallion Gran Corrado who jumped clear in 39.46 sec.

Houtackers remained in front until Italy’s Juan Carlos Garcia and Loro Piana Albin stopped the clock on 36.54 sec. Next to jump, Germany’s Heinrich Hermann Engemann proved it was possible to go faster still – finishing in 34.98 sec but an unfortunate four penalties prevented them from taking the lead.

A quick and calculated round from Britain’s Mark Armstrong and Thesaura pushed them into the lead with 36.18 sec and British spectators remained glued to their seats as the final competitors negotiated the course.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Germany’s Alois Pollmann-Schweckhorst all failed to match Armstrong’s time and a British win seemed likely.

But it was not to be. Markus Beerbaum and Leena, who already clinched the London leg of the series at Olympia in December, proved a determined opposition and their 36.02 sec time was good enough to take first position.

Beerbaum’s win has propelled him from 25th to fifth position on the FEI leader board on a score of 45 points. Mark Armstrong has 17 points.

With four qualifiers left until the final, Britain needs to notch up a few more points. Michael Whitaker is currently the highest placed British rider, lying 10th on a score of 39 points.