CHIO Aachen is a venue known for equestrian exceptionalism, and throughout the week, the German home team has proved that its riders are also deserving of the accolade in every way. With Nations Cup wins already in show jumping and, by day’s end, in dressage, it was up to eventing team veterans Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung to rise to the challenge in Aachen’s CICO3* competition—and did they ever.

After dressage and a clear round in show jumping on Friday, Klimke and her Rio 2016 mount, Horseware Hale Bob, were sitting on a dressage score of 34.5, just two-tenths of a point ahead of her teammate, two-time Olympic individual gold medal-winning partners Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW, on a score of 34.7.

Klimke and the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Horseware Hale Bob, have finished in the top three at Aachen for three consecutive years, while Jung and “Sam” won the event in 2011. The latter pair have never finished lower than sixth place at the event, and Jung won with fischerTakinou in 2016.

A bright, blue day and a crowd of 36,000 would witness the brilliant, final leg of competition, which saw a CICO3* Nations Cup victory for Team Germany, and an epic showdown between two of the fastest and most talented cross-country horses in the sport. The individual title this year would belong to Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob, with Jung and Sam taking second; both riders went clear and inside the time.

In other words, Aachen at its very best: giving the world’s most exceptional horses and riders a chance and a stage on which to shine.

-Photography by Erin Gilmore for NF Style.