The teams from France and Germany made sure to give the spectators an exciting FEI Nations Cup night in Aachen, Germany, on July 5. The tension built during the two rounds and reached a peak as the teams’ two anchor riders—Marco Kutscher on Cornet Obolensky for Germany and Olivier Guillon on Lord de Theize for France—were to enter the huge floodlight arena in one of the most prestigious Nations Cups in the world.
The French held a slim lead going into the second round on a score of 1 ahead of Germany on 4. The Dutch team lay third on 8 penalties, while Sweden and Ireland followed on 12.
Frank Rothenberger’s track caused plenty of headaches, and only seven riders in each round survived without faults. A lot of the faults came on the last line, which consisted of an oxer on five strides to a plank followed by a difficult seven- or eight-stride distance to a vertical-oxer combination, where the white oxer was the final huge question of the course.
Germany looked dangerously strong in the second round. Marcus Ehning and Christian Ahlmann both posted clears on Plot Blue (Mr. Blue—Ilotte, Pilot) and Codex One (Contendro—Gipsy, Glueckspilz)—two of the four double-clear rounds of the day. When France’s Eugenie Angot on Old Chap Tame (Carthago—Jecoute) and Roger Yves Bost on Nippon d’Elle (Sherif d’Elle—Havane d’Elle, Narcos II) had 5 penalties apiece as the two first riders for France, it looked like Germany would take home a third Top League win for the season.
But leading French lady rider Penelope Leprevost had a different idea. When home rider Janne-Friederike Meyer had two fences down on the feisty Cellagon Lambrasco (Libero—Fabia, Coriolan), the stylish Leprevost grabbed the opportunity. She produced another picture-perfect clear on the beautiful stallion Mylord Carthago *HN (Carthago—Fragance de Chalus, Jalisco B)—the third of the four double clears of the day—and put France back in the game.
So, the battle was to be between Kutscher and Guillon. If Kutscher jumped clear on the lovely gray stallion Cornet Obolensky (Clinton—Rabanna van Costersveld, Heartbreaker) his team would win, and Guillon and Lord de Theize (Donald Rouge—Elisa de Theize, Tolbiac des Halles) wouldn’t be able to do anything but settle for second.
But Lady Luck wasn’t on the side of the home team. After a very uncharacteristic 16 penalties in the first round, Cornet Obolensky again had the same number of faults—three fences down and a foot in the water. The home crowds could do nothing but watch in disbelief as France secured the win even before Guillon entered the arena. He finished with one down. This was the first Top League victory for France this season: The team struggled to find their form in the first three legs but ended third in the fourth leg in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Ireland produced their best Top League result this season to finish third. Both Billy Twomey on Je T’Aime Flamenco (Flamenco de Semilly x Landetto) and Cian O’Connor on Blue Loyd (Landor S—Suzana du Boulay, Hadj A) rode clear rounds the second time around and helped Ireland finish third on a score of 20 penalties together with their teammates Denis Lynch and Dermott Lennon.
“To win a Nations Cup anywhere in Europe is nice and wonderful, to win in Aachen—well it’s actually for all of us the best Nations Cup to win. The stadium, the atmosphere, the public. It’s something really unique. It was a quite exciting competition,” said French Chef d’Equipe Henk Nooren.
“We made a very good start with two clears and a 4, but then Marco’s horse was not in the same form as he was two weeks ago in Rotterdam,” said German team manager Heinrich-Hermann Engemann. “In the second round we had two clears, but Janne had a bit too much power, so we hoped that Marco would bring us back a little bit. It wasn’t a good day for Marco, and it was unlucky for the team.”
1) France – 10 penalties
2) Germany – 12 penalties
3) Ireland – 20 penalties
4) Switzerland – 21 penalties
5) Great Britain – 31 penalties
6) The Netherlands – 32 penalties
7) Sweden – 36 penalties
8) Belgium – 40 penalties