After a thrilling competition, Australia’s Boyd Exell has won the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Geneva, presented by Brasserie A. Egger. Being the title defender, winner of three World Cup™ Driving events this season and top favourite, Exell felt the pressure on his shoulders but kept his head clear and beat the ‘Bloody Dutch’, Koos de Ronde and IJsbrand Chardon.
Three Days Preference
Home driver Werner Ulrich unfortunately had three knockdowns with his mixed team of Swiss warm blood horses and a Lusitano gelding which made him come last in front of his home crowd. After a very smooth round on the first day, double World Champion Tomas Eriksson from Sweden was determined to equal this performance. But the winner of the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Stockholm also knocked three balls down with his team of Swedish warm blood geldings and dropped to the fifth place in the final standings.
Ulrich’s compatriot Daniel Würgler drove the same team with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Leipzig in January, existing of two Kladruber horses, a trotter and an Andalusian cross Camargue, which has only been in Würgler’s stables since last spring. The 50-year-old professional horseman explained afterwards that his horses are at their best on the third day of a competition. Unlike in Leipzig, there was no extra competition in Geneva and Würgler had to be pleased with the fourth place.
IJsbrand Chardon was first starter after his disappointing performance on the first night. The four times World Champion drove his new team of Lipizzaner horses with more pressure and put down a fast and clear round with which he qualified for the Winning Round.
Koos de Ronde had one knockdown, but drove very fast and secured his place in the Winning Round. Being the last starter, Exell felt the pressure and for a moment it looked as if the 2008 World Championship bronze medallist would not make it to the Top Three, but his very fast time made up for the two knockdowns.
The differences between the Top Three drivers were very little which forced them to go for it all the way in the Winning Round. Chardon drove clear again, but De Ronde drove one of his best rounds ever and took four seconds off Chardon’s time. De Ronde, who is competing with three piebald geldings of the outdoor four-in-hand team of his father, kept his second place. The tension and excitement grew in the Palexpo hall when Exell came in, driving with his experienced team of trotters and warm blood geldings. In a breathtaking round, which was closely followed by the enthusiastic driving fans, Exell remained clear and passed the finish line three seconds faster than De Ronde with which he won the FEI World Cup™ Driving for the second consecutive time in his career.
International course designer Falk Böhnisch from Germany had designed a fast and technically difficult course, which was much praised by the six drivers. As the arena in Geneva is one of the largest in Europe, 80 meters long and 60 meters wide, Böhnisch had more space to ‘play’ with the various lines and obstacles. The excellent surface, the hill, the bridge, the use of jumping obstacles and the wonderful water splash made it a truelly unique course in Geneva.
Boyd Exell (Aus): “In the first round, the horses were too fresh and nearly took off with me. I was fighting not to loose it. The second round I knew I could win, I had the feeling I could drive through everything. The pressure the Dutch drivers put on me was unbelievable. Koos de Ronde has been second behind me all season except in Mechelen, but he has never been so close to me in time as in Geneva. I have four fantastic horses and I have let them down sometimes this season but I am happy that I have not let them down in Geneva. The public was really with me in the Palexpo, as soon as I passed the finish line the pressure fell off my shoulders and I also felt the relief of the crowd, a fantastic feeling!”
Koos de Ronde (Ned): “I think I did one of my best rounds ever. Before I came to Geneva, my goal was to get to the Top Three and I am very happy that I made it. The difference with Boyd was only 3 seconds on such a long course, so I am very pleased. I came third in the Final in 2009, second in 2010 so I hope to win next year!”
IJsbrand Chardon (Ned): “I only have the fourth Lipizzaner horse in my stables for four weeks and it always takes time for a team to get used to each other. It was the first time they competed together. It did not go very well for me on the first night, but I believed in this team so I decided not to change anything for the Final. I now know even better how to prepare them and I am very pleased with my results. “
Result Rolex FEI World Cup™ Driving Final Geneva 17 April 2010:
- Boyd Exell (Aus) 284,85
- Koos de Ronde (Ned) 287,94
- IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 292,29
- 4. Daniel Würgler (Sui) 155,71
- 5. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 158,76
- 6. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 164,16
Winners FEI World Cup™ Driving 2001-2010
Season World Cup Champion Final event
- 2001/2002: Michael Freund (Ger) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2002/2003: Michael Freund (Ger) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2003/2004: Michael Freund (Ger) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2004/2005: Michael Freund (Ger) and IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2005/2006: IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2006/2007: Michael Freund (Ger) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2007/2008: Christoph Sandmann (Ger) Leipzig (Ger)
- 2008/2009: Boyd Exell (Aus) Gothenburg (Swe)
- 2009/2010: Boyd Exell (Aus) Geneva (Sui)
More information: www.feiworldcup.org
Photo caption: Boyd Exell (AUS) winner of the Rolex FEI World CupÔ Driving Final in Geneva (SUI) with sponsor Mr. Egger. (c) Rinaldo de Craen.