It went to the wire in Barcelona. In a battle of the giants, it came down to a breath-taking jump-off between Britain and Germany – newly-crowned Olympic champion Nick Skelton and Big Star going head-to-head with Marcus Ehning on Pret A Tout.
Both jumped clear, but Marcus had the edge against the clock, and Germany took the FEI Nations Cup final. And emotions ran high as Germany’s anchorman Ludger Beerbaum, who had put in a foot-perfect clear with Casello to ensure the two-way showdown with Britain, said goodbye to the sport and retired from team competition, although he was still compete as an individual. But although youngest member of the team Jess, going third for Britain, and the game Spirit T gave their all, they came home on 12 faults.
Germany was also fielding a strong team and Britain desperately needed another clear to keep in the loop. It was down to the super-cool Scott Brash, and just as he had done at Spruce Meadows a couple of weeks earlier when taking the $1,000,000 grand prix, he pulled a clear out of the bag when it mattered with the scopey Ursula XII.
Britain was on a zero score, but so was Germany after their last man Ludger provided a magnificent clear to bow out as a team member in style, and was rewarded with rapturous applause. A head-to-head jump-off was on. Di Lampard selected Nick and Big Star as our main hope, and they were pitted against Germany’s Marcus Ehning on Pret A Tout.
As he did just a few weeks earlier in Rio, Nick – ensured of a generous shaore of the 200,000 euro bonus on offer to riders jumping double clear – set a sizzling standard with Big Star. But this tme, the result didn’t go Britain’s way, and Marcus found tighter lines and gallop to the last to clinch the win for Germany by more than two sec.
“I watched Nick and knew I could be faster. I was really under pressure, I wanted this win for Ludger as it was his last Nations Cup,” said Marcus.
The USA finished in third on four faults with Ireland’s team of Shane Breen (Golden Hawk), Darragh Kenny (Go Easy De Muze), Denis Lynch (All Star 5) and Greg Broderick (MHS Going Global) in equal fifth with Italy on five faults.
British-based Swede Angelie von Essen and the Cappucino 14-year-old Cream Sheridan topped the Negrita Cup two-phase in fine style, winning by 1.33 sec.
Ireland’s Anthony Condon – based in Britain with partner Laura Johnson – claimed fifth on the Verdi nine-year-old Chinook II. Fellow Irishman Denis Lynch took third on Que Sera.
John Whitaker and the consistent Echo of Light finished eighth with a double clear, 3.07 sec behind the winner.
Scott Brash took third with the Diamant De Semilly/Papillon Rouge 11-year-old Hello Guv’Nor in the Queen’s Cup – Segura Viudas Trophy in a 16-horse jump-off. They were 1.31 sec behind the winner, Germany’s Marcus Ehning on Funky Fred. Jessica Mendoza claimed 10th on Zahra II with four faults in the jump-off.
Photos © Jumping Around