September 25, 2008 -- Germany reigned supreme at the final Samsung Super League show jumping competition in Barcelona, Spain, on September 21 to secure the 2008 title and their third consecutive series victory. Team members Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher produced the only two double-clear performances of the day, and Beerbaum secured the Leading Rider Award for the 2008 season.
The Belgian team finished a strong second ahead of the Netherlands in third while the Irish took fourth ahead of the host team from Spain. British hopes of ousting the Germans from the top of the leaderboard faded fast, and they had to settle for sixth ahead of Switzerland, while it was a disappointing day for the USA as they finished second to last, beating only the three-man Swedish team, who were eliminated following the retirement of Jens Fredricson as round two got underway.
"I'm really pleased with how it went for us," said Beerbaum. "I'm not just talking about today, but for the whole season. Germany had several teams with different riders gaining points for us, and today we had four really good performances. We were very disappointed after the Olympic Games--especially myself and Marco (Kutscher)--so it was great to show we could come back and jump well at this level, and I'm really happy about winning the Leading Rider Award."
By the end of the first round the Germans were already out in front with just four faults while Belgium and the Netherlands shared second place with eight and Ireland lay close behind with nine. Spain, Switzerland and Great Britain were the fifth spot with 16 faults apiece, but the Americans were already in big trouble having racked up a total of 24.
Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and SRF Dragonfly opened for the U.S. with six fences down. Georgina Bloomberg added 20 more faults on her tour of the track with Curius. Not even the excellent single-error round from Super League newcomer James Benedetto riding Kannan S Gigi Z and a classic clear from Laura Kraut and her Olympic team gold medal-winning partner Cedric could make amends.
Sweden's fate was sealed when Fredricson retired after his 11-year-old stallion Platini VDL hit five fences early on the track, but the Americans rallied brilliantly, if a little late, when Shahinian-Simpson's mare proved infinitely more rideable the second time out with a lovely clear. Kraut and Cedric picked up just a single time fault the second time out, so with Bloomberg's 12 faults dropped, only the 11 collected by Benedetto had to be added to complete their total of 36.
The non-Super League Spanish side added just 13 to their 16-fault first-round tally. Ricardo Jurado produced the best result with just a fence down from Procasa Julia des Brumes in both rounds, while the Swiss added 17 more to their score.
The British challenge never developed as Michael Whitaker's Portofino and Peter Charles' Murka's Rubert R repeated their first-round eight-fault scores. Charlotte Platt and Tim Stockdale had just one fence down each time out, but the final tally of 32 left them well down the order.
The Irish meanwhile were feeling a lot happier as their only aim was to remain amongst the top seven teams that would automatically qualify for next season's new Nations Cup series. They achieved that with a final score of 21.
As the closing stages evolved it was clear the winner would emerge from the final three teams, and the Belgians gave the Germans a run for their money. Just a fence separated the two sides as round two began and clears from both Jos Lansink with Valentina van't Heike and Christophe Vanderhasselt with Ultra Top van'T Paradijs kept them close. Patrick McEntee's four with the ever-reliable Ever Mury Marais Z at those penultimate planks was the only addition. Philippe Lejeune's 12 with Vigo d'Arsouilles proved the discard score.
Single errors from Angelique Hoorn (Blauwendraad's O'Brien), Leon Thijssen (Olaf) and Gerco Schroder (Eurocommerce Milano) all had to be counted when Marc Houtzager's stallion Opium left two on the floor so the Dutch lost their grip on runner-up spot. The Germans stayed cool to close it down with clears from pathfinder Carsten-Otto Nagel (Corradina), and Marco Kutscher's Cornet Obolensky and just four faults for Otto Becker and Con Air. Victory and the 2008 title were now in German hands, but one more issue had to be settled and there was only one man to do it.
Beerbaum and All Inclusive NRW needed one more clear to earn the coveted Leading Rider prize and, with consummate ease, they cruised home to clinch it.
Final Samsung Super League Leaderboard
1. Germany - 67.00
2. Great Britain - 45.50
3. Netherlands - 44.50
4. Belgium - 37.50
5. Ireland - 31.83
6. USA - 27.83
7. Switzerland - 24.58
8. Sweden - 13.75