Belgium’s Jos Lansink took the individual show jumping title at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany today. America’s Beezie Madden took silver and Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum was awarded bronze.

For the first time since Hickstead in 1974, the change-horse final went to five rounds. Australia’s Edwina Alexander dropped out of contention with a single mistake riding Michaels-Beerbaum’s Shutterfly in round four, while the remaining three went through to a jump-off against the clock on their own horses.

2006 World Champion Jos Lansink with Beezie Madden (silver), bronze medallist Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum(bronze) and Edwina Alexander, 4th. Pictures by Kit Houghton

Shutterfly proved difficult to handle in the change-over phase, when becoming over-excited, but went well in the ring. as did Alexander’s Isovlas Pialotta. But Madden’s Authentic got hotter and hotter, creating control problems for both Lansink and Alexander.

The Belgian rider led the way into the final round with the graceful grey Cumano, whose breath-taking jumping technique never faltered, and set the target with yet another clear in 45.01 sec. When Shutterfly hit the white oxer at fence three last time out, only Madden
could threaten for the title. More than two seconds up on the clock coming to the last she did just that but she hit the last and had to settle for silver.

Madden described herself as “a little bit heart-broken right now” but added that she could not be happier with the performance of her horse. While Alexander could have been excused for feeling bitterly disappointed when denied a medal by the smallest of mistakes, her talent
shone through. Her diminutive figure on board the brilliant Cumano will remain one of the lasting memories of this championship, which brought together a truly world-wide representation of riders competing at the very top of their form.

Michaels-Beerbaum said that jumping her rivals horses had been “a whole lot of fun – they all went beautifully for all of us and the whole experience was not as stressful as I imagined”.

Lansink, in the end, owed his success to the unique ability of his 13-year-old grey stallion, who has earned himself super-star status after a spectacular week of sport.

“To win a championship you need a good horse and a little bit of luck,” said the show jumping champion who had the benefit of both.

The Aachen organisers confirmed that the WEG attracted almost 600,000 spectators during its two week run.