Germany produced one of its best performances to date in the Samsung Super League series to take the latest leg of the Nations Cup in Aachen this weekend, although Frances consistency in the series leaves them well ahead of the rest of the field as they defend the title.
The first round was a hotly fought contest, and while Frank Rothenburgers course caused problems all round with 12 big fences, tricky layout and light poles, four of the eight national teams (the USA, Belgium, Holland and Germany) were all sharing the top spot on eight points at the end of the first round.
But at this stage, Germany pulled out all the stops to prove their true professionalism, and produced a hat-trick of zero-round scores without having to call out their final rider. They finished just ahead of the USA, who succeeded in limiting second-round penalties to just four.
There was a serious element of damage limitation in Frances attitude in the second round. They had been well down the board in sixth place at the end of the first round, but a double clear by Eric Navet and Dollar du Murier*Hauts Deseine to add to penalty-free rounds by the two Angots: Florian and Eugenie, sent them rocketing up the placings to finish in third.
It looks as if Irelands show jumpers, who finished in fourth place, just a whisker behind France, are back on track after the political ups and downs among the jumping fraternity. Cian OConnor produced a double clear on Waterford Crystal, leaving Ireland with their second-best result in the series so far, and somewhat making up for their disappointing performances earlier in the year.
Great Britain, on the other hand, finished in seventh place their worst result to date, and only Scott Smith and Cabri DElle (pictured) were able to conjure up a clear round in the first round. Even Nick Skelton, who has been the mainstay of the English team for much of the series, was unable to match his usual tidiness.
Nothing could quite match Italys performance however without a single clear round to their name, they finished on a total of 68 penalties. Perhaps they are saving their energies for Athens!