Germany bests USA in FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ thriller to kick off 2022 season
Michael Klimke (GER) riding Harmony's Sanrino RHP part of the winning team from Germany at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ 2022 - Wellington (USA). (FEI/Thierry Billet)
The opening leg of the 2022 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ series hinted at a competitive season to come, as defending series Champions Germany bested the United States by just over a percentage point in Wellington (USA).
Strong starts defined the weekend, as the opening day results from Michael Klimke (Harmony's Sanrino RHP), Christoph Koschel (Dünensee), Lars Ligus (Soccer City) and Frederic Wandres (Dolciario) could not be caught by the American contingent, who were the first official series champions in 2016.
"Last year it was a really big surprise, and it motivated us for this year. We all had a top day yesterday, and today it got very close again."
Michael Klimke (GER)
Klimke and Wandres each pulled weight for their team, with Klimke winning Thursday's Grand Prix (72.652). Despite Big Tour combinations receiving a 1.5 percent boost to their scores, Small Tour combination Wandres and Dolciario gave Germany its best Day 2 score in winning the Intermediate I, receiving 73.176 from judges Stephen Clarke (GBR), Carlos Lopes (POR), Michael Osinski (USA), Mariette Sanders - van Gansewinkel (NED) and Knut Danzberg (GER).
"The team can only be successful if all of us are fighting until the end, and we really did that," Wandres said. "[Dolciario] is just 8 years old, and this is his first CDI tour this season. I was already very happy yesterday, but today was his first Intermediate 1."
Down to the wire
While Thursday's results provided a slight cushion, the United States rallied strongly on Friday in the Grand Prix Special to keep the standings incredibly close. Twenty-two-year-old Ben Ebeling took won the deciding event—the Grand Prix Special—receiving 73.649 aboard Indeed, a mount he's only campaigned since the beginning of the year. Beatrice Berktold (Imperial) won the Prix St. Geroges (72.441) added a 72.676 score to finish second in the Intermediate I in her first senior Nations Cup.
"I think my teammates can be really happy with their rides. I’m certainly very happy with my ride," Ebeling said. I love riding Indeed. I think it’s so much about my riding, but more about my coaching, from Christoph Koschel and also my dad Jan Ebeling, who did a fantastic job training this horse. I’m just lucky that I get to ride her. She’s got a lot of power in there and today you could really see it, and I really felt it. For me, that’s something that I’m really excited about."
"I was not aware of how close it was. It was very exciting," added Koschel, who finished second to his student in the Grand Prix Special. "There was team spirit, and I’m happy that we won. I have to say big congratulations today to Ben for winning the class, well done."
With just three teams competing, Wellington's leg will not offer series points. The FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season will resume 05-08 May at Mariakalnok (HUN).
Full results here.