The FEI World Cup Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell provided Saturday evening's audience at Olympia with breath-holding excitement as all drivers took their feet off the brakes. In a truly thrilling finale the ultimate battle for first place was between the world's top two drivers, 2014 WEG individual gold medallist, Boyd Exell from Australia and multi-medallist member of the Dutch Gold medal-winning team at WEG, Ijsbrand Chardon.
Last to go on the first round, Exell bettered Chardon's time but slipped behind him on the leader board as he picked up 5-penalties. With less than a second in hand, Chardon thundered round the course in the run-off, still going clear. Exell produced a drive that was nothing short of a masterclass, shaving an impossible five seconds off his time in the previous round and going clear. Competing here on a wild card, he scores no World Cup points, but was crowned the Olympia champion.
"My plan was to drive cleanly and quietly in the first round but my leader knocked down a ball with his nose," Boyd remarked. " I knew we could better the time second time round - I really don't have to push my horses; there's lots more to come from them yet."
Chardon, who won here last year and says that Olympia is among his favourite of the World Cup qualifying venues, collected World Cup maximum points for his second place. Retaining his third place from the first round in which he drove clear, Fredrik Persson from Sweden was happy both with his horses and his Olympia experience.
"It is a wonderful show," he said. "The crowd really lift you which spurs both you and your horses on."
President of the Ground Jury, Joaquin Medina Garcia (Esp), was equally complimentary. "When the President of the Jury has nothing to do, you know it is a good Show!" He remarked.
With the three WEG team gold medallists from the Netherlands - all of them experienced World Cup competitors together with three times individual gold medallist and five times World Cup champion - Boyd Exell - it was always going to be an edge-of-the-seat competition. This did not disappoint.