A hugely influential cross-country phase caused favourites and overnight leaders Germany to plummet down to fifth, and hand the Aachen Nations Cup victory to New Zealand.
All four of the home side fell foul to Rüdiger Schwarz’s deceptively tricky course, with Julia Krajewski eliminated after three refusals on her team ride Samourai Du Thot. Last year’s winners Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD had trouble at the same combination of skinnies with a run-out. Andreas Dibowski (FRH Corrida) and Kai Ruder (Colani Sunrise) jumped clear but each racked up the time penalties, with Kai’s 12-year-old gelding refusing to leave the start box for a full 40 seconds.
However, Julia on her second ride, Chipmunk (above), gave the home crowd what they came for, with a super round on the 10-year-old Contendro son to clinch the individual lead.
“My first round really didn’t go to plan and was frustrating, but I had to remind myself that it was another horse, and Chipmunk is very different to Sam,” Julia said. “He’s a young horse and I was thrilled with how he answered all my questions.”
Australia’s Chris Burton and Quality Purdey were the only combination to get inside the time, by just 0.01 of a second. Having raced into the lead, and seen the overnight runner-up Tim Lips and Bayro retire at fence 4, Chris had an anxious wait as Julia completed her round. The roar from the crowds as she crossed the finish line told him all he needed to know – despite clocking up 6.4 time faults, it was enough to secure her the victory by just 0.6 of a mark.
New Zealand produced an impressively consistent performance to rise up the rankings and take the team win. Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation), Mark Todd (Kiltubrid Rhapsody) and Tim Price (Cekatinka, below) all jumped clear, with the latter finishing third individually.
“The priority was a solid team performance and it’s thrilling that we’ve all gone out and delivered everything we wanted for the team,” said Tim.
It wasn’t a good day for Britain, with the team finishing sixth. The best performance across country came from team first-timer Imogen Murray, who had been the drop score overnight, but finished as best Brit in 24th. She and Ivar Gooden jumped clear around what she described as an “intense” course, but was unlucky to pick up 20 penalties for a circle before the first water complex, that she thought she had got away with.
“I had a bit of steering malfunction, and that cost us time too,” she told H&H.
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Oliver Townend was best of the Brits overnight, but a very sticky jump over the skinny element of the first water resulted in him pitching over Ballaghmor Class’s side, and into the water. Both Oliver and the 11-year-old grey gelding were uninjured in the fall.
Luck was also not on the side of Britain’s other riders; Gemma Tattersall and Pamero 4 had a run-out at the skinny element of the second water complex, and Sarah Bullimore ran out at the same combination of skinnies that caught out the German riders, after Reve Du Rouet got distracted and didn’t really lock on to the fence.
“He was fabulous but he’s difficult with crowds and when we came in to that fence there were so many people and at the last minute he lost concentration and got confused,” Sarah said.
Don’t miss the full report from Aachen in next week’s H&H, on sale on 26 July.