In a nail-biting cross-country finish, Germany claimed The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ in Arville (BEL) by just 0.3 of a penalty over home side Belgium. Their victory was massively helped by a strong performance from Julia Krajewski, the individual gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics. The 34-year-old was also the individual winner of the CCIO4* competition, after jumping a super double clear on her impressive nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion, Nickel 21. The Germans performed well as a team, leading throughout to achieve a score of 103.2, although four very strong and fast cross-country performances left the Belgians breathing down their necks with an overall score of 103.5. New Zealand presented an experienced team of riders, all of whom were established at 5*, to finish third on a score of 116.4.
Hans Melzer, chef d’equipe of the winning team, was delighted with the German performance, particularly after a year that has been somewhat up and down for German riders.
“This year, sometimes we were unlucky in Nations Cups and at Aachen, but this one was important, because we had three long-listed riders for the Europeans (Championships), which are all to go to Blenheim. It was good to show here, because it’s a hilly event and we don’t have so many of those in Germany, so it was good preparation for the rest of the season. What they showed today was very good cross-country riding.
“Julia (Krajewski) was with her younger horse, which was his third time at 4* and is a horse maybe for the future. He will go to the long (CCI4*-L) at Boekelo and the other three were all younger riders from our prospective group based in Warendorf, and it was good to see the younger ones competing here and really attacking.”
12 national teams from three continents came forward to compete at the Nations Cup in Arville, which is one of Belgium’s most prestigious equestrian events. The event as a whole attracted riders from as far afield as India, Morocco, and Australia. Melzer highlighted the significance of the Series and why the event had proved so popular with riders from all over the world.
“The Nations Cups are super events because every rider is proud to ride for their country. It’s a good competition and especially here we have 12 nations, so it’s like a little championship. It’s really great with atmosphere and a super course. I think it’s important we keep these Nations Cups going the whole year in every country, because when you have enough riders, you can test riders in a team and the team order and everything that they learn being part of a team.
“It was a real four star. It’s not too big, but it was very technical with many questions and the country is really hilly. The second part of the course is up and down and up and down. We had 114 starters here which was unbelievable, but the facilities are super, we had good weather, the ground is perfect, so you could go and try to ride the time because there was no risk. It’s very good here in Arville.”
With the electors weighing up options for next year’s Olympics, events like these become more significant, and Melzer will continue to assess their performance as these German team riders will now head to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (GBR) in September. “I think Julia will have a definite Olympic chance, and the others are good enough when they have a good result here and then Blenheim ahead and there is a chance to put them on the long-list.”
When asked if the Germans can rise once again as the dominant eventing nation, he responded, “The Germans did very well at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni, and now the Brits are the strongest team in all ways. Our team must work everything at 100% and maybe we have a chance. It’s important to give the younger rider a good plan; that’s how they have a chance to come to the top and where they ride, how they train, with whom they train. We have our very good system in Germany since 2002 — our prospective group and three of our riders today came through this system. And in the past Julia Karajewski, Sandra Auffarth, and Frank Ostholt – they all came out of this group, and for the future, this is a good thing we have, as we train a group of riders always together and they get more experienced and more confident.”
The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ action now moves to the final event of the Nations Cup Series, which will play out at Boekelo (NED) (4-8 October). The Belgians continue to lead the Series with 600 points overall.
Final scores from Arville can be found here: https://live.rechenstelle.de/2023/arville/nationcup03.html.
by Eleanore Kelly