A midsummer night’s dream
in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup
They were the title defenders – but would the German show-jumpers be able to repeat their victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at the CHIO Aachen? After the results of the Nations Cups at the start of the year there were justified doubts. But three aspiring young German show jumping talents and an old hand proved all of the gloomy predictions wrong.
Laura Klaphake, Simone Blum, Maurice Tebbel and Marcus Ehning let the midsummer night’s dream come true at the Soers. With just four faults after both rounds, they rode to victory ahead of the team from Ireland (6 faults) and the Netherlands (9). And how they won! Laura Klaphake had a double clear round with her mare, Catch Me If You Can, which was moreover a role model for stylish jumping. It was the Aachen premiere in the Nations Cup for both her and Simone Blum with Alice. The latter picked up four faults in the first round, but jumped clear in the second round.
Maurice Tebbel made his debut premiere in the Aachen Nations Cup with Chacco’s Son in 2017 – and thus celebrated his second triumph at the Soers after a super clear round number one and four faults in the second round, which he explained came about because his otherwise extremely careful stallion slipped slightly while taking off and didn’t have enough grip to push himself away from the ground strongly enough.
Marcus Ehning joked in the Press Conference that he is so old that he couldn’t even remember how many times he has ridden for Germany in Aachen. But one thing is for sure, the two previous times the victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup went to Germany. And today his was the ride that decided the victory.
The ride to victory
As the most experienced rider, Ehning played a key role for the team with his French chestnut, Pret a Tout. That is why the national coach, Otto Becker, let him ride last, since the final rider often decides between victory and defeat. That was indeed the case today. When Ehning entered the ring, Germany was lying in first place with a lead of one point. If he stayed clear, the team’s victory was safe. On the Riders’ Stand Simone Blum and Laura Klaphake clutched each other closely and trembled at every obstacle. In the first round Ehning and his Hiram Chambertin son picked up four faults. Would he jump clear this time? 40,000 spectators were as quiet as mice. He jumped one obstacle after the other clear. But a Nations Cup is terribly long! After Ehning had left the triple combination behind him and steered towards the final obstacle, the first voices could be heard. “Shush!” came from all sides. Concentration! After all the pole could even fall at the last fence! But Pret a Tout knows his job. He also mastered the last jump with no problems at all. A cry went out all over the Soers. Deafening applause, German flags, great joy! Mission accomplished!
As he walked over to the warm-up area, the national coach Otto Becker blurted out: “Super troop!!! How they stick together, how they fight – simply fantastic! And how the youngsters performed here – immensely cool!” The German jumping sport has reached a new phase. Experienced experts are not at hand right now, but instead we can rely on the strength of the youth. The season got off to a “halting start”, Otto Becker admitted. Then we came second at the CHIO in Rotterdam, where Laura Klaphake – who has been a member of the European Young Riders Academy initiated by Rolex for three years and thus also trains regularly with Franke Sloothaak – and Catch Me If You Can delivered the best team performance with two double clears. That was anything but a one-day wonder today. Does she have a recipe for success? “I give my horse a kiss before entering the ring!” Who knows whether that’s what does the trick or whether the mare is simply “in the best form of her life”(Laura Klaphake), but one thing is certain: That is what winners look like! Klaphake’s conclusion after her first Nations Cup in Aachen: “A dream has come true, First of all, because I was actually able to ride in the team, secondly because we won.”
Simone Blum and Alice, who only had one show to prepare for Aachen, because they had to have a time out for a few weeks in the spring, also made an outstanding impression. A totally overwhelmed Simone Blum commented: “I simply can’t believe it. It was a fantastic day, a fantastic team and I am proud of us all.” And Marcus Ehning, who has competed so often here at the Soers that he can no longer remember how many times, emphasised: “Once you have won here once, you want to win every year! Indeed, we have succeeded in doing so for the last three years. So we are simply happy! And then taking a sideward glance over to his team colleagues, the Olympic gold medallist praised the team: “The young riders performed superbly.”
This victory was dedicated to Hans Günter Winkler who passed away earlier this month. All four riders wore a black armband in remembrance of the show jumping legend. “HGW” would no doubt have enjoyed this evening at the Soers.
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