Today German eventer Ingrid Klimke became the first rider to win the eventing at the CHIO Aachen three times: in 2015 with SAP Escada, in 2017 with SAP Hale Bob OLD, and again today with SAP Hale Bob OLD. British rider Laura Collett was the overnight leader on London 52, but a runout at the final combination on course, the Stawag Complex, cost them the win. New Zealander Tim Price and Wesko added 4.8 time faults to drop into fourth place overall, while Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH claimed second followed by Australian Christopher Burton on Quality Purdey. All three top finishers have previously won the event at Aachen.
Team Germany won the team competition, followed by New Zealand in second, and Australia in third.
Representing the United States in her fifth Nations Cup and competing at Aachen for the first time, Caroline Martin had a clear round with 18.8 time faults to finish 21st for Team USA (55.1) riding Islandwood Captain Jack, her and Sherrie Martin's 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Jack of Diamonds x Suir Touch).
Martin said that she rode the course to plan and her horse felt comfortable with the challenge. “It’s a tough track and felt like a five-star in a short format. I planned to ride it like I was schooling cross-country because it’s very twisty and turning, almost like a show jumping course. We’ve been doing a lot of dressage and he was very adjustable. He’s only 10 and still a little weak in the body, so we couldn’t make the time, but he is an honest horse and you can tell he loves the sport.”
His next competition will be at Millstreet (Ireland) at the end of August, so Martin sent him home with teammate Liz Halliday-Sharp today, and she will keep him going on the flat while Martin flies back to the United States to compete her other horses at Jersey and Millbrook before she flies over to England to prepare for Millstreet and the trip to Ireland.
“I’m grateful to the USEF for the grant and sending me over, and thankful to [USEF Manager of Eventing] Joanie Morris for all of her support,” Martin said. “It’s great being on a team with Phillip [Dutton], he’s such a good anchor and has nice a way of sharing his knowledge with the rest of us. Liz [Halliday-Sharp] is my neighbor in Florida and we work really well together, and Erik Duvander has been super supportive all season, working closely with me and my horses, and has been a huge help. They are all good mentors for me as the rookie in the group.”
Halliday-Sharp was having a cracking round for Team USA with the 11-year-old KWPN gelding Deniro Z (Zapatero VDL x Zonne-Trend), owned by The Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties, when he lost a shoe on course. At the last combination on course before entering the stadium for the final few fences, Deniro Z lost his footing between fences, slipped and fell, resulting in elimination.
“The horse was absolutely brilliant,” said Halliday-Sharp. “He was really class everywhere: he felt amazing and really good in himself, and I’d say it was the best round I’ve had on him. The plan was always to go the long route at that combination, but he slipped in front and then behind. I had big studs in but they were long and narrow, and in hindsight I wish I’d used wider studs because he’s such a powerful horse. We were still on the line for the fence, but he didn’t recover from the slip and went down. We’re both fine, but it’s hugely disappointing.”
She continued, “But that’s the sport, and life goes on. I feel like we had a great ride and nearly did the whole course, and it’s good we got the run we had in since he hadn’t run at this level since The Fork [in early April]. We have to take that with us and move on. We’re going home to England tonight, I’ve got another horse running Advanced at Aston Le Walls tomorrow, then the Eventers Challenge at Hickstead, another event next Saturday, and I fly out on Sunday for the Pan Am Games.” On July 25 her Pan Am partner Cooley Quicksilver flies direct from Europe to Lima, traveling with the Brazilian show jumping team.
Before cross-country, U.S. Eventing High Performance Director, Erik Duvander commented, “Aachen is a course that is not huge but it is super technical, and when you ride at speed, it’s easy to get caught out.”
Phillip Dutton and Z, the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Thomas Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Carline Moran, and Ann Jones, also had an early end to their day with a fall at the Rolex Water Complex, but both horse and rider walked off the course.
Duvander said, “My mindset is always in development and preparation for the next championship . . . it is important for these horses to be exposed to scenarios like Aachen so we know where the gaps are, the holes are in their education. Z is a horse for the future and needs more experience at championship competitions. This was Liz’s first team experience, and to do your first team at Aachen is a big deal. So she needs to get more comfortable in that way; she’s a very good team member and we work well together, but she needs to have more of that kind of experience. The next Olympics is probably a little soon for Caroline Martin – you never know, it is still 12 months out – but she’s definitely in development for the future as an elite rider.”
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.