The Germans now hold virtually all the major honours the sport has to offer, having taken both team and individual gold medals at the last Olympics and the World Equestrian Games. Ludger Beerbaum, now in the lead for the individual championship to be decided here tomorrow, could add another European title to give Germany a monopoly of current honours.
Ludger Beerbaum and his younger brother, Markus, were the architects of yesterday's win in which both contributed double clear rounds. The Dutch riders, third overnight, mounted a strong challenge with three clear rounds at their first attempt over a big course, but they were unable to catch the home team.
British riders had dropped back in the first round, with one mistake from Geoff Billington on Virtual Village It's Otto and Robert Smith on Senator Tees Hanauer, plus two each from the Whitaker brothers - Michael on Ashley and John on Welham.
Billington and Smith were clear at their second attempts, but Michael Whitaker had another fence down on Ashley while his elder brother, John, had a refusal at the last of the 14 fences on Welham.
John had accelerated to the water, the 13th obstacle, and he therefore took a pull to regain control as he came to the last. But Welham over- reacted and stopped. Though he cleared the fence at the second attempt, he added two time faults to the three incurred for the refusal which gave him the discard score.
Smith, who is riding on a senior championship team for the first time, is now best of the British in eighth place individually, but his chances of gaining a medal in tomorrow's final leg of the championships look slender.
Ludger Beerbaum is not counting his chickens, especially with Hugo Simon close behind him on E.T. But the German does have more than four faults (the cost of one error) in hand over the Austrian and his mount, the mare Sprehe Ratina, has not put a foot wrong so far.
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