Beerbaum's safe route to success

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Ludger Beerbaum had no need to hurry yesterday, when he cruised round the jump-off course to win the Preis von Europa with Sprehe Ratina on the second day of the Aachen Nations Cup Show.

The German Olympic champion was last to go in the jump-off and he had already seen John Whitaker make a single error on the final double when recording a record time on Grannusch.

"If John had been clear, I would have tried to beat his time," Beerbaum said. "I don't think there's a faster horse in the world than Ratina, but we might have had a fence down trying to be quicker." As it was, he had only two slow clear rounds to beat and (though 6.39sec slower than Whitaker) he gained an easy victory over Jos Lansink on Visa Carthago and Jerry Smit on Constantijn.

Whitaker finished fourth and Robert Smith, the only other Briton in the jump-off, was sixth on Tees Hanauer.

Michael Whitaker and Midnight Madness, convincing winners here on Tuesday, retired during the first round yesterday. The horse was paying more attention to the crowds than the fences and Whitaker turned him away from the treble to get a better approach. He cleared all three parts of the obstacle but retired shortly afterwards.

Ratina will be Beerbaum's mount at the Olympics, for which she has been given easy preparation. This was only her third outdoor show of the year.

"She does not like to work like a German dressage horse, so you have to play along with her," Beerbaum said. "And she doesn't like you to have 100 per cent control or she fights against you." Thanks to his sensitivity, she simply concentrates on clearing fences.

AACHEN NATIONS CUP SHOW: Preis von Europa: 1 Sprehe Ratina (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 60.72secs; 2 Visa Carthago (J Lansink, Neth) clear, 66.13; 3 Constantijn (J Smit, It) clear, 68.40. British positions: 4 Grannusch (J Whitaker) 4 faults, 54.33; 6 Tees Hanauer (R Smith) 4 faults, 57.96.

Vegla Prize: 1.Blue Bayu (P Charles, Irl) 59.23secs; 2 My Girl (I Millar, Can) 62.75; 3 Jolly Boy (J Whitaker, GB) 63.36.