GERMANY (by Claartje van Andel) Concluding immediately before the announcement of the Rio2016 Olympic teams, the annual Aachen Festival was the final opportunity for long-listed riders and horses to consolidate their form and superiority ahead of national selection. Of course, a number of qualified nations will be represented by teams in all three Olympic disciplines, including Germany, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA – all strong medal contenders.
Germany, Great-Britain and the USA have, exceptionally, won team medals at Olympic Games, so let’s consider the various disciplines, one by one, and make some forecasts as to which riders and horses will claim the Brazilian spotlight
The sport of showjumping has developed during recent years to become a very challenging discipline, and the distance between the best competitors is extremely narrow. According to Brazilian Olympic course designer Guilherme Jorge : “The level is really hard today. With one second difference in the time allowed, or one jump a little bit higher you can have five more clear or five less clear.” As usually at the Olympic Games, Jorge has woven Brazilian-based themes into his obstacles, which have all been created in Great Britain.
Meanwhile, Dutch team chef d’equipe, Rob Ehrens feels that having won team gold at WEG 2015 and the 2015 European Championships, an Olympic medal is ripe for the picking: “We are in good shape and have been able to work consistently on our plan. But so have a lot more teams as differences are very tight. We need to have some first rounds with no penalties. We are all looking forward to the challenge.”
Team of stallions
Although Ehrens says that his own best performances horses have all been mares, the Dutch team relies on three approved stallions: VDL Zirocco Blue NOP (Mr. Blue - Licorne des Forets x Voltaire, bred by Fabrice and Guy Paris, Haras des Forets), ridden by Jur Vrieling; VDL Groep Verdi TN NOP (Quidam de Revel - Clarissa x Landgraf I, bred by Veehandel Musterd from Hooge Zwaluwe), riddenby by Maikel van der Vleuten; and the KWPN-acknowledged Emerald van ‘t Ruytershof NOP (Diamant de Semilly - Carthina Z x Carthago, bred by Bert van den Branden from Sint-Niklaas), ridden by Harrie Smolders.
The fourth member of the quartete is, of course, individual gold medallist from WEG 2014 in Caen, Jeroen Dubbeldam with his hugely talented SFN Zenith NOP (Rash R -Sascha [keur prest] x Fuego du Prelet, bred H. Voort from Den Ham. Reserve- rider will be the double silver medallist from London 2012, Gerco Schröder, in the saddle of Glock’s London NOP (Nabab de Reve - Ta Belle van Sombeke x Chin Chin erkend, bred by Joris de Brabander, St. Niklaas). Concluding, Ehrens stated: “The fact that I have chosen Gerco Schröder as the reserve, is the best proof of our depth.”...