Equestrianism: Germany put on a show to take gold: World Games

Click to follow
The Independent Online
GERMANY could hardly have won the team championship for show jumping in a more commanding manner. They finished with more than 12 faults (the cost of three errors) in hand yesterday, before they stood on the podium at the World Equestrian Games to receive their gold medals. France finished second, above Switzerland, Brazil, the United States and a thoroughly disheartened British team.

Franke Sloothaak, whose two wonderful clear rounds on San Patrignano Weihaiwej contributed to the German team victory, holds the lead in the individual standings. Two of his team-mates, Soren von Ronne and Ludger Beerbaum, are second and fourth. German domination was emphatic.

Britain, who had come here with such high hopes, saw their chance melt away in conditions of such debilitating heat and humidity that you could not imagine the possibility of Atlanta being any worse for the 1996 Olympics.

They were lying eighth after yesterday's first round, in which Nick Skelton opened with 12 faults on Everest Dollar Girl. Michael Whitaker scraped through with just four faults on Midnight Madness, but he could well have lowered a couple more fences - notably the first where he left the top plank swinging.

Both Kelly Brown on Alfredo and John Whitaker on Gammon finished the first round on 16 faults. 'I'm devastated,' the British team manager, Ronnie Massarella, said at that stage. 'The two older horses felt the heat, even Midnight Madness was badly affected by it.'

The older campaigners were 16-year-old Gammon and the mare, Dollar Girl, who is two years younger. At 11, Midnight Madness should be around the prime age for a show jumper. All three of these horses had eight faults in the second round.

Brown rode with splendid verve to have only four faults on Alfredo, thus achieving the best second-round score for the British team. Her performance moved the team up by two places and so qualified Britain for the 1996 Olympics by the tiny margin of 2.35 faults. The Canadians, who finished seventh, will be hoping to gain their place at next year's Pan-American Games.

On yesterday's form, you have to wonder whether there is much point in sending a British team to Atlanta. Conditions were the same for all the horses but others, notably those ridden by German riders, were still able to produce their best form.

Michael Whitaker, lying 10th in the individual standings, will be the only Briton in tomorrow evening's two- round contest which will decide which four riders contest Sunday's final.

The British endurance riders will be hoping for better results when they set off at 6.30am this morning on the start of their 100-mile race.