Equestrianism: Beerbaum shows stylish verve as Smith sneaks into the placings

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The Independent Online

Ludger Beerbaum received a great roar of approval from the crowded stands when he rode Goldfever to a second consecutive victory here in yesterday's Grand Prix of Aachen, the closing contest of the Aachen Super League Show.

This was the German rider's third success in this annual classic - he also won on Ratina in 1996 - and, as always, it was achieved with stylish verve. Having jumped the only clear round of the five-horse jump-off, Beerbaum defeated another home rider, Marcus Ehning on For Pleasure, and the polished Frenchman, Michel Robert on Galet d'Auzay.

The contest was judged over two rounds and a jump-off, with the top 18 going through to the second round. Robert Smith, who scraped through in 18th place after a single error on Marius Claudius, had two further errors when he reappeared with the stallion, but the British rider still won the 17th of the 18 prizes, worth £1,600. Richard Davenport, the only other British qualifier for the Grand Prix, had two fences down in his first round on Luc - including the first, which was the smallest fence on the course - to finish 27th.

Beerbaum, who had earlier won the Last Chance on Champion du Lys, should have no worries about holding onto his lead on the world rankings. He will be shedding some of the points he collected in a highly successful June campaign last year, but now has a substantial number to replace them.

His current form will also make him a warm favourite for August's European Championships at Donaueschingen in Germany, were he will be attempting to win the individual title for the third time in a row.

Two veteran horses - Ehning's For Pleasure and Franke Sloothaak's Joli Coeur, both 17-year-olds - jumped clear in the first round. Because of the humid conditions, however, Joli Coeur did not reappear. This was the last Aachen for Sloothaak's long-standing partner, who is to retire at the end of the year, so it was pleasing to see him leave the great showground with a clear round by which to remember him.

Robert, the slim Frenchman, rode the youngest horse in the jump-off, nine-year-old Galet d'Auzay. This horse looks to be a splendid replacement for Luc, now the mount of Richard Davenport, whom Robert was bringing on for the Athens Olympic Games until the owner decided to sell him two years ago. "Michel's a wonderful rider, so Luc couldn't have been produced better," Davenport said.

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