‘I hope that’s secured my world champs spot’: exciting night for Team GB in Aachen Nations Cup

  • It’s been five years since Great Britain last fielded a showjumping team for the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup of Aachen, but the union flag flew proudly as the quartet of Ben Maher, Harry Charles, Scott Brash and John Whitaker finished on the podium after a hard-fought contest on Thursday night (30 June).

    Germany came out convincing winners on home soil after two gruelling rounds of shifting fortunes for the eight teams involved. Their squad of Jana Wargers, Christian Kukuk, Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann and Andre Thieme lifted the silverware on a score of just five, sealing victory before final rider Andre had even jumped.

    Belgium and Great Britain finished less than a rail behind on eight faults, the former taking the runner-up spot courtesy of a slightly faster accumulative time.

    But GB’s third place finish was a tremendous result for a nation which hasn’t appeared on the Aachen podium since 2011, and last won the Nations Cup there – one of the toughest competitions in the showjumping calendar – 22 years ago.

    “I’m absolutely over the moon with the performances tonight,” said Di Lampard, Great Britain’s showjumping performance manager. “To come here to this stadium and have those rounds – we’re going the right way towards the end of the season.”

    Aachen Nations Cup: ‘That was everything I ever dreamed of’

    Harry Charles was understandably thrilled to jump such a polished double clear on his Tokyo Olympics partner Romeo 88, owned by Ann Thompson, in his first Aachen Nations Cup. He made his five-star debut here four years ago in what turned out to be a breakthrough year for the Hampshire rider.

    “That was my first ever five-star show and I sat here and watched the Nations Cup and said, ‘Next time I come back to this show I want to jump in that class’,” said Harry, 22.

    “It was everything I ever dreamed of – the atmosphere, the lights, to be part of this team and to go double clear first time is amazing. Romeo did an amazing job and I think there were only four double clears so I’m delighted and it bodes well.

    “I’ve had him for just over a year and a half and he’s still getting better – the last two Nations Cup he’s been double clear,” added Harry, who will jump Romeo 88 again in Sunday’s Rolex grand prix. “I’d like to hope that’s secured my spot in the Herning world championships.

    “This is a very proud day and it’s amazing to have a British team back in Aachen, at the best show in the world, and on the podium.”

    Scott Brash: ‘So unlucky’

    Both Ben Maher riding Oakingham Stud’s 12-year-old stallion Faltic HB and Scott Brash with Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham’s charismatic gelding Hello Jefferson jumped one clear and one four-fault round, while John Whitaker and Equine America Unick Du Francport just collected four faults in the opening round, before the gelding seemingly misread the water jump in round two to finish on a score of nine.

    “I thought Jefferson was fantastic, he jumped brilliant,” said Scott. “The one down in the first round I felt was quite unlucky – I maybe pushed him a little bit too much out of the combination – a lot of horses were struggling to jump the back bar and he pushed the front bar out. The rest felt very good and then the second round he felt fantastic.”

    A gulf separated the top three teams from the rest of the field in the Aachen Nations Cup with early leaders Switzerland dropping to fourth on 18 penalties. France, USA, the Netherlands and Brazil completed the line-up.

    • Don’t miss more coverage from CHIO Aachen in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound, out Thursday 7 July.

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