Equestrianism: Germany dominate in run-up to Athens

German Riders established themselves as Olympic favourites when they won yesterday's Samsung Super League Nations Cup on the fourth day of the Aachen show here, without any help from their leading rider, Ludger Beerbaum, who was omitted from the team so that the selectors could assess other possible Olympic partnerships.

German Riders established themselves as Olympic favourites when they won yesterday's Samsung Super League Nations Cup on the fourth day of the Aachen show here, without any help from their leading rider, Ludger Beerbaum, who was omitted from the team so that the selectors could assess other possible Olympic partnerships.

With clear second rounds from Otto Becker, Marco Kutscher and the European champion Christian Ahlmann, their last rider, Ludger's sister-in-law Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, was not required to jump again as the Germans recorded their first victory here since 1998.

The United States finished second, ahead of France (who were languishing in seventh place half-way) and the Irish who achieved a good performance for their reinstated trainer, Eddie Macken, and new chef d'équipe, Ned Campion. France's Eric Navet and Ireland's Cian O'Connor produced the only double clear rounds of the contest.

For Britain, whose sole clear round came from Scott Smith on Cabri d'Elle, seventh place was disappointing but not unexpected. Two of the British horses - Nick Skelton's Russel and John Whitaker's Exploit du Roulard - were inexperienced although they improved when they tackled the demanding course for the second time.

Aachen Super League Show (Germany): Super League Nations Cup: 1 Germany 8 faults; 2 United States 12; 3 France 15; 4 Ireland 16; 5= Belgium and Netherlands 20; 7 Great Britain 30; 8 Italy 68. GB scores: Marius Claudius (R Smith) 4, 9; Exploit du Roulard (J Whitaker) 12, 8; Cabri d'Elle (S Smith) 0, 8; Russel (N Skelton) 9, 1. Standings on Samsung Super League: 1 France 30.3pts; 2 Germany 28.8; 3 Netherlands 25; 4 Belgium 20.3; 5 United States 19; 6 Great Britain 18; 7 Ireland 12.5; 8 Italy 9.

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