Boyd Exell (AUS) today notched up his third individual victory at Aachen, the most prestigious international Four-in-Hand Driving competition, to add to his wins in 2003 and 2009. The Australian had a head start in the dressage and held onto his lead throughout.
Four times World Champion IJsbrand Chardon (NED) finished second, ahead of Christoph Sandmann (GER), and it was the Netherlands that won the Nations Cup ahead of hosts Germany, with Switzerland in third.
The CAIO and World Cup Qualifying competition in Aachen was run in a different format. The Four-in-Hand drivers drove the regular dressage test on Thursday, followed by the obstacle driving competition on Friday. The marathon, broadcast live on television, was run as the final phase to bring the combined driving competition to a dramatic finish.
Exell’s outstanding Dressage test was unanimously awarded first place by the international Ground Jury, which included four of the five World Championship judges. Dutch driver Theo Timmerman was second after the Dressage, ahead of USA’s Jimmy Fairclough. Exell drove a near faultless test with his team of black geldings, which were extremely light and elegant throughout. The current World Cup Champion won the CAIO Aachen 2009 with the same horses and says his team is getting better at every show.
IJsbrand Chardon started with a disadvantage after his all-round horse Argus had injured a leg just before the horse inspection and was taken out of the competition.
Obstacle driving competition
Hungary’s Zoltan Lázár and his team of grey Lipizzaner horses won the second phase of the combined competition. Lázár was the first driver to go clear and inside the time on the challenging course, designed by Germany’s Dr Wolfgang Asendorf. The former Pair and Four-in-Hand World Champion proved to be a true show man and treated the spectators in the stadium to a very exciting and fast drive-off round, which he won ahead of home drivers Rainer Duen and Christoph Sandmann. Sandmann is competing in his first outdoor driving event of the season after undergoing knee surgery four weeks ago.
Boyd Exell kept his lead in the individual standings despite one knock down and time penalties. USA’s James Fairclough drove a clear round and kept his third position, just behind Dutch driver Theo Timmerman. Fairclough is driving a team of Dutch and Austrian warmbloods, which have only been together since March of this year. The KWPN leader horses are leased from his compatriot Keady Cadwell, who successfully competed with this pair at the FEI World Pair Driving Championships in Kecskemét 2009. The Austrian full sisters were driven by Georg Moser from Austria in the FEI World four-in-hand Driving Championships in Beesd 2008.
New obstacles on the marathon
Asendorf had designed eight challenging obstacles for the 24 drivers from 10 nations in Aachen. For the first time, he used transportable elements in four obstacles. The beautiful bridge obstacle, which was only built four years ago for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, was completely renewed using treated wood. Obstacle 4 and 8 were brand new and more collapsible elements were placed in every obstacle to ensure the safety of the horses. The drivers started in reverse order of merits after dressage and cones, which resulted in an exciting battle between the top drivers.
IJsbrand Chardon had a communication problem with one of his horses in the first obstacle, but got his team back on track from then onwards and drove a very strong marathon. Chardon won the marathon, but only by a narrow margin from Boyd Exell, to leave Exell in front overall. Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich, driving the team of Lusitano horses owned by the Portuguese Stud Sociedad Quinta des Terras, took third place in the marathon.
Boyd Exell (AUS): “Unlike in some other countries where it is common, the format where the marathon takes place after the cones is new to me. My horses were a little too fresh for the cones, which resulted in a knock down and time penalties, but other than that I did not mind. I encourage this new format to promote driving and to make it more spectacular and understandable for the media and the spectators. My goal in the marathon was to protect my lead. I went the long way in the first obstacle to see how my horses were doing and after that I just went for it. I even felt like flying in the last obstacle!”
IJsbrand Chardon (NED):”It was not my competition in Aachen this year, but I am very happy that I came second after the misfortune I had when Argus was taken out. I had to use my marathon horse in the dressage and I had to switch my horses around for the cones. In the marathon my horses went very well, they had a lot of power. I am pleased that I have proved that I can stay at the top with an alternate team of horses.”
Christoph Sandmann (GER): “I was operated on my meniscus four weeks ago at the same time as my son Jan, who twisted his knee playing football. I am supposed to sit down with my leg up, but of course I wanted to compete in Aachen. Our team coach Ewald Maier had confidence in me and allowed me to start without having to qualify.
“I was not very pleased with my marathon, it was not good enough. I knocked a ball down with the whip myself and this should not have happened. But I was pleased with my horses as these long obstacles were very demanding.”
Individual results CAIO Aachen (Ger) 14-17 July 2010:
- Boyd Exell (Aus) 142,90
- IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 149,19
- Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 154,34
- Theo Timmerman (Ned) 156,70
- Zoltan Lazar (Hun) 159,57
- Daniel Würgler (Sui) 160,61
- Werner Ulrich (Sui) 169,11
- Tucker Johnson (Usa) 171,57
- Rainer Duen (Ger) 173,02
- Dirk Gerkens (Ger) 173,75
Team results CAIO Aachen (Ger) 14-17 July 2010:
- The Netherlands 305,89
- Germany 316,65
- Switzerland 329,72
- Hungary 352,84
- Sweden 352,92
- USA 367,09
- France 414,62
Standings FEI World Cup Qualification after 9 of 15 competitions:
Place Driver NF Total
- 1 Zoltan Lazar HUN 59
- 2 Werner Ulrich SUI 58
- 3 IJsbrand Chardon NED 57
- 3 Daniel Würgler SUI 57
- 3 Tomas Eriksson SWE 57
- 6 Theo Timmerman NED 51
- 7 Koos de Ronde NED 50
- 8 Boyd Exell AUS 45
- 9 Fredrik Persson SWE 44
- 10 József Dobrovitz HUN 5
Photo caption: Boyd Exell, winner of the CAIO Aachen 2010. Please note that this picture is strictly for editorial use. (c) Rinaldo de Craen.