The much-fancied German team failed to shine on home ground at last week’s Mercedez-Benz Prize Nations Cup of Aachen, leaving the USA to storm to its second victory in the 2005 series.
The Americans collected 13 faults to give them a significant eight-fault advantage over the joint runners-up of Holland and France. The Irish, who have been having a troubled season, had looked on form for second place until a dramatic second-round mistake by Billy Twomey (pictured) dropped them to last place.
Britain shared fourth place with Switzerland, ahead of Belgium in sixth, but nobody expected that the European show jumping champions from Germany would finish seventh, just two faults ahead of the Irish, who have plummeted once again to the bottom of the leaderboard, with the series finale in Barcelona beckoning on 18 September.
Frank Rothenberger’s 12-fence track provided plenty of problems and only America’s McLain Ward riding Sapphire and Holland’s Gerco Schroder with Eurcommerce Monaco found all the answers in both rounds.
Ward is still only part-recovered from the broken collarbone injury he suffered in a fall at Hickstead last month, making today’s performance all the more remarkable. His chef d’equipe, George Morris, said: “He gave his horse a fabulous ride today, he’s a great performer under pressure.”
“Most of the week here in Aachen the courses were very trappy, but today’s track was much more straight-forward. It proved very difficult, but we just had four wonderful riders and four very nice horses — that’s what clinched it for us” he added.
Britain’s Ellen Whitaker looked impressive when collecting only a single time fault with Locarno in round one, and her uncle Michael went one better to produce a fault-free round with Portofino. Nick Skelton had a single pole down with Arko for four faults, while William Funnell and Cortaflex Mondriaan were the discard score with five faults.
This put Britain in third place going into the second round, but while Skelton managed to coax a clear round from Arko, unfortunately the rest of the British team could not match his performance. Portofino picked up five faults, while Locarno finished on a disappointing 12. Funnell was the discard score once again on 13. This left Britain tying for fourth place with the Swiss.
The USA team heads to Barcelona next month with a four-point lead at the head of the 2005 Samsung Super League leaderboard, in front of Germany, with Britain just two points adrift in third. With double-points available at the last fixture, there is still all to play for.
Aachen Nations Cup results
1. USA – 13 faults
=2. The Netherlands – 21 faults
=2. France – 21 faults
=4. Britain – 22 faults
=4. Switzerland – 22 faults
6. Belgium – 24 faults
7. Germany – 30 faults
8. Ireland – 32 faults
Samsung Super League leaderboard
1. USA – 43
2. Germany – 39
3. Britain – 37
4. Switzerland – 28
5. France – 27.5
6. Belgium – 19
7. The Netherlands – 18.5
8. Ireland – 15