It was no cake walk on Aachen’s cross country course today, as talented riders from across the globe struggled to go clear and fast on the twisting course. It was Team Australia that was ultimately able to take advantage and clinch the top spot by being the only team to have their three scores all under 50 penalties each. In addition to a fair amount of runouts on course, the time was difficult to make, which shook up the leaderboard considerably.
Michael Jung was among those who did not make the time, but with just 5.2 penalties he was able to clinch the top individual spot with his likely Olympic mount, fischerTakinou, as well as a 31,000 euro purse.
Shane Rose and CP Qualified were right on Ze Terminator’s heels, coming in just 1 time penalty behind with a final score of 42.80 to finish in second. Ingrid Klimke not only took the third slot on her individual mount Horseware Hale Bob OLD, she also nabbed fourth with SAP Escada FRH. Horseware Hale Bob was one of two to make the optimum time.
Germany was able to leap up the team standings after cross country with fast and clean rides from Michael Jung and Sam, Ingrid Kimkle and SAP Escade FRH, and Dirk Schrade and Hop and Skip. They had less than 15 time penalties between them, which was good enough to jump from fourth to second behind the strong Australian contingent.
But it was Aussie speed that kept the home team at bay, with only six time penalties shared among Shane Rose, Chris Burton, and Samantha Birch, each putting in some of the fastest rounds of the day.
Ireland was the dark horse podium team today, and despite not having a drop score was able to put in three magnificent cross country rounds to pop from fifth to third. Aoife Clark and Wasting Light were their best individual finishers in 13th place, but all three finished in the top twenty.
Great Britain had a heck of a final day at Aachen, dropping from third to fifth when only Nicola Wilson and One Two Many and Tina Cook and Calvino II were able to avoid jumping penalties. Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre had a runout at 22a/b a pair of angled brushes which proved to be by far the most troublesome spot on course for many riders today. Francesca Reid-Warrilow and Dolley Whisper were eliminated for multiple runouts, ultimately packing it in at 22a/b as well.
The American contingent ultimately maintained their sixth place slot on a tough course, though there were some extremely tense moments getting there. Phillip Dutton put in one of only two double clear rounds and the fastest round of the day, but the American celebration was put on hold when the scoreboards briefly showed him as eliminated.
The officials thought Phillip may have missed a flag at the big corner in the second water, which would have resulted in elimination. Further review determined that Phillip had been within the flag, and his double clear standing was restored, resulting in a rather chaotic few minutes for the team.
Hannah Sue Burnett’s round was an equally bright spot in the day for the stars and stripes, with Harbour Pilot going clean and taking direct routes throughout, including the angled brushes near the end of the course that troubled so much of the pack. Hannah and William added just six time penalties to their final score of 55.60, good enough for 11th place individually.
Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monte Carlo were having a super run before falling victim to the 22 a/b combination, as well as adding a bit of time. The combination, heartbreakingly close to home, caused more than half the runouts on course all day, nearly more than all over fences combined. The pair finished in 25th.
Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF struggled at 11b, one of two narrow hedges following an imposing Normandy bank. The pair performed well through 10 and 11a before just glancing off 11b. Getting back on track cost them time as well, but the pair completed the remainder of the course to finish in 30th place.
It proved to be a very eventful day for many nations, and with only two days left before teams must be finalized for the Olympics, it will be interesting to see what, if any, impact the weekend could have on those final decisions.