New Zealand’s eventing team has finished second at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen, as the hosts put on a masterclass of cross-country overnight to win both team and individual honours.
Ingrid Klimke was one of just three riders to make it around the course clear and under the time, and in doing so secured the individual title and led Germany to team gold in the SAP Cup.
Ingrid and Hale Bob crossed the finish line to thunderous applause from the crowd, while ‘Bobby’, with his ears pricked, looked as if he was ready to attack the course again. It’s the third time Ingrid has won individual honours in Aachen; she took it out in 2015 with Escada and in 2017 with Bobby.
Second and third places went to the two other combinations that were clear in the time: Michael Jung with Chipmunk, followed by Australia’s Christopher Burton with Quality Purdey – both were riding as individuals.
New Zealand’s Tim Price was fourth, having incurred 4.8 time faults with Wesko. Jonelle and Faerie Dianimo were also clear, with 6.4 time faults, to finish eighth, and team-mate Jesse Campbell was impressive too, clear with 8.4 time, in 13th spot.
But it wasn’t enough to hunt down the Germans: the hosts were already heading the leaderboard before the cross-country and won with ease, with a total of 94.5 penalties, to New Zealand’s 102.7. Australia was third with 112.4, while Great Britain will be disappointed with fourth, on 127 penalties.
Michael Jung was seventh on his team horse, Star Connection, with 5.2 time, and the third German team rider, Andreas Dibowski, was 11th with FRH Corrida.
The leader going into cross-country, Great Britain’s Laura Collett, had a run-out at fence 21c, plus 10 time faults, to finish way down the order. Best of the Brits was Piggy French, sixth on Quarrycrest Echo.
The best team rider for Australia was Andrew Hoy, fifth on Vassily de Lassos, while Chris Burton was ninth with his team horse, Polystar I, and Kevin McNab 16th on Willunga.
New Zealand’s fourth team rider, Dan Jocelyn, was clear with 18.4 time to finish 25th on Blackthorn Cruise, while individual James Avery had two run-outs and 50 time faults, but completed with Mr Sneezy.
Rüdiger Schwarz has been building the cross-country course at Aachen for 15 years, and there was clear consensus that the tasks he had set the riders and horses this year were tougher than before.
“Yesterday evening, we knew that we had a difficult course ahead of us,” was how Ingrid Klimke described the mood of the riders.
Rüdiger says: “We know that good pairs compete here in Aachen. The four-star competition [here] is going to be more difficult than anywhere else.”
Three combinations caused the most problems: the Rolex Complex at 7ab, where after entering the water and riding under a bridge, the competitors had to tackle a skinny directly after a 90-degree turn.
The Turkish Airlines Complex (15abc) was the next big challenge. Here, narrow elements had been built in the middle of a driving obstacle, which caused a degree of confusion for the horses if the riders hadn’t knocked back their speed on the approach. And finally, the Stawag Complex at the very end of the course, a corner followed by two hedges at an angle, called for full concentration.
Making up the time in between the tricky obstacles demanded both well-conditioned horses and tactical riding, but the grounds were perfect and it wasn’t impossible to make the time.
In the end, Rüdiger’s course-building strategy paid off – even if he did admit that he had been a “bit sad” in the middle after the many run-outs, especially in the water complex.
The performance of Michael Jung’s Chipmunk, who won at Aachen last year under Julia Krajewski and was second with his new rider is worth a special mention. The three-time Olympic gold medallist, Michael Jung is delighted that they are harmonising so rapidly: “It is fun to see how quickly we have grown together. One notices the difference from competition to competition and at home.”