Equestrianism: Germany take team title with supreme performance

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The Independent Online

Britain, lying seventh after the first of yesterday's two rounds, made a small improvement to finish in sixth place.

This was better than their ninth-position finishes in the last two championships in 2001 and 2003, but it was still a long way from the glory days of 1985 to 1989 when they won the team title on three successive occasions.

The first round was a serious disappointment for the Great Britain manager, Derek Ricketts, even though it included a brilliant example of John Whitaker's understated brilliance when Exploit du Roulade left the eighth fence standing after approaching it on a seemingly impossible stride. But the difficult stallion lowered three subsequent fences, giving Whitaker a first-round total of 12 faults.

Three more below-par performances followed with 16 faults from William Funnell on Cortaflex Mondriaan plus eight apiece from Nick Skelton on Arko III and Michael Whitaker on Portofino. John Whitaker (six faults) and Funnell (four) improved on their previous scores when they jumped again, but Skelton (another eight) and Michael Whitaker (12) could not find their best form.

The German riders now hold first and second places in the individual championship through Marco Kutscher on Montender and Christian Ahlmann on Coster. Mortender and No Mercy, the mount of Switzerland's Christina Liebherr, jumped the only two double clear rounds .

Germany are expected to gain another team European title for dressage next week. They will also be well fancied to add the three-day event championship to their tally at Blenheim Palace in September.

European Show Jumping Championships: (San Patrignano, near Rimini, Italy): Team Championship (final result): 1 Germany 18 faults; 2 Switzerland 34.42; 3 Netherlands 35.76; 4 Italy 50.78; 5 Belgium 54.04; 6 Great Britain 58.03; 7 France 59.48; 8 Sweden 77.75.

GB scores in 2nd leg: Exploit du Roulard (J Whitaker) 12,6; Cortaflex Mondriaan (W Funnell) 16,4; Arko III (N Skelton) 8,8; Portofino (M Whitaker) 8,8.

Individual Championship (standings after first two legs): 1 Montender (M Kutscher, Ger) 3.79 faults; 2 Coster (C Ahlmann (Ger) 6.21; 3 Flipper d'Elle (L Goffinet, Fr) 6.59; 4 Nassau (J Dubbeldam, Neth) 7.62; 5 No Mercy (C Liebherr, Swit) 8.69.

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