Little bro takes turn

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:51 AM ET

Not much of a surprise to see a member of show jumping's famed Beerbaum family clinch a championship at Spruce Meadows.

After all, Ludger Beerbaum is the third winningest rider in the facility's history, while Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum recently won the World Cup to rocket up the ranks and became the first woman to be No. 1 in the world.

This time, though, it was Markus Beerbaum -- Ludger's younger brother and Meredith's husband -- taking home the hardware.

Though the last name and success he's had on the world stage might make you assume Markus Beerbaum has had plenty of International Ring victories, yesterday's win in the $72,500 Sun Life Financial Reach for the Sun was his first.

However, it's not like it was that long coming.

"I've been here twice for the Masters and this is the first time for the summer. I haven't been here that many times," said Beerbaum, who won team gold for Germany at the 1998 world championships, the 1997 European championship and many Nations' Cups.

"My brother and my wife have been here many times and I've been here many times spectating but I haven't ridden that much in the International Ring."

Riding Constantin 24, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Bertam and Diana Firestone, Beerbaum posted the fasted double clear to claim the $24,000 victory.

The pair arrived for the National after placing 11th in the World Cup final.

"He's a very consistent horse," Beerbaum said. "He hasn't actually won that many classes but he's brought in very many top placings."

Nick Skelton (Pandur 292) was second, while fellow Brit Mark Armstrong (Thesaura) was third. The top Canadian was Kim Farlinger, who won $3,000 by finishing seventh with Del Destino.

Beerbaum, with only one legit top-calibre horse to ride here, had a decent North American tournament, with a sixth- and seventh-place finish earlier in the week.

"It's a good competition, very competitive and difficult," he said. "This week, I would say, is not far from the Masters. There's many good Europeans, the best Americans and the courses are very hard. That's why I had a bit of a struggle just having one horse for the whole time.

"I tried my best to keep him fresh, which I managed since he won on the last day."


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