Reigning World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) has won the prestigious CAIO Aachen (GER) for the sixth time in his career and has taken the lead of the FEI World Cup™ Driving qualification standings. Koos de Ronde (NED) became the runner up whereas the leader of the individual standings before the marathon Chester Weber (USA) finished third. The Dutch team won the gold medal for the seventh time in a row.
Fifth Consecutive Win
Exell finished second behind Chester Weber in the individual and team dressage. Although Australia did not field a team, the team dressage and cones were compulsory for all individual competitors. Exell secured a score of 34,80 penalty points in the dressage test with the beautiful black horses owned by the Hungarian Támas Vincze and drove a double clear round in the cones course. The difference with dressage winner Chester Weber was only 2,41 points before the marathon in which the competitors started in reverse order of merit.
The marathon footing had become heavy because of the rain during the previous night and on the morning before the competition, but all 25 drivers and their horses finished without severe problems. The Australian was the first to last starter and wisely decided to stick to his plan. By setting top scores in the majority of the eight challenging obstacles, he gradually overtook the overnight leader. By the time both drivers had crossed the finish line, they knew Exell had won Aachen for the fifth time in a row and for the sixth time overall in his exceptional career as a four-in-hand driver.
Second Place for De Ronde
Reigning World Cup Champion Koos de Ronde had started off well by placing fourth in the dressage with his matching team of KWPN-geldings. The Dutchman has a reputation for being a double clear cones driver which he confirmed in Aachen. He scored one of only four double clears and moved up to third place. Despite his successful performance, he had some doubts before the marathon and was not sure he would be able to close the gap that separated him from Weber and Exell. But the Dutch driver gave it his all in the last phase of the individual competition finishing second in the marathon and overtaking Chester Weber, for whom he often acts as a marathon navigator when he does not compete himself.
Chester Weber proved worthy of his nickname Mr Dressage by winning the test. Driving his team to a personal international best of 31.2, Weber dominated the world-class field. Following this record score in the individual dressage, Weber also won the team dressage finishing on 38.21 points. Weber’s winning team was made up of his own Para and Senate, as well as Splash and Uniek, owned by Jane Clark. Together, the four horses were able to demonstrate their amazing power, grace and synergy.
Weber left all the balls in place in the cones course but collected 1.19 penalties for exceeding the time allowed. In the marathon however the American was unable to keep up the necessary high speed in the obstacles and finished third individually.
Mixed Fortunes for Michael Brauchle
This was not a great CAIO Aachen for German team member Michael Brauchle. The 2008 and 2011 marathon winner was admitted to hospital on Thursday with suspected appendicitis. This fortunately turned out not to be the case as he had most probably suffered from acute food poisoning. During the individual cones competition, the bit of Brauchle’s right leader horse broke and the 23-year old driver was eliminated. He was however able to compete for the German team in the marathon and the cones on Sunday. Because of his elimination, Brauchle was first on the heavy marathon going which was lucky for him. While the footing was still solid, Brauchle set the fastest times in six obstacles and at the end of the exciting marathon day, which was attended by numerous spectators, his score remained unbeaten.
New Course Designer
German O-Course Designer Dr Hartmut Kaufmann was in charge of the courses at Aachen for the first time in his career. The 64-year old former driver has been building courses for over 20 years and was also the course designer at the FEI World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships in Riesenbeck (GER) in 2012. Kaufmann and his team of 10 assistants changed the stability constructions of the obstacles after a test with several world-class drivers last April. Kaufmann listened to the advice of the drivers and made the necessary changes, which resulted in a very nice marathon for the horses, drivers and spectators.
The team competition was won by the Dutch reigning World Champion team consisting of Koos de Ronde, Theo Timmerman and IJsbrand Chardon, for him this was not the best Aachen experience. Because of several injuries, the four-time World Champion started without three of his top horses and was twice the drop score. Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman were however very strong and secured the gold medal, much to the satisfaction of national coach Harry de Ruyter.
The German team, led by Georg von Stein, finished second ahead of the Swedish team. Double World Champion Tomas Eriksson competed for the 30th and possibly last time in Aachen this year as he has unfortunately not been able to find a sponsor to help him to continue the sport.
After taking the sixth place in dressage, lady driver Georgina Hunt-Frith recorded the second best individual result, taking 10th place in the overall standings with her impressive team of beautifully turned out black KWPN geldings.
World Cup Qualification
CAIO Aachen was one of the 14 outdoor competitions held in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, The Netherlands, and Slovenia which serve as qualifiers for the indoor FEI World Cup™ Driving. The top ten drivers after the last competition will qualify for the series 2013-2014 season, which starts in Hannover (GER) on 17 October.
Boyd Exell (AUS): “I decided not to try to win the marathon, but to try to win the event. It was a very heavy course, but my horses were 110%. I decided to stick to my game.”
Koos de Ronde (NED): “The difference between the first and the last competitor in the marathon was huge. That is why it was very difficult to accelerate; the footing in the obstacles was very heavy. But with Nietje and Santana in the wheel of my team, I was able to drive as planned and I could give it all.”
Chester Weber (USA): “The team was fabulous to drive and it is humbling to sit behind them as they are like poetry in motion. I truly believe they are the best dressage team in the world.”
Individual results CAIO Aachen 2013:
1. Boyd Exell AUS 118.46
2. Koos de Ronde NED 124.81
3. Chester Weber USA 125.78
4. Georg von Stein GER 135.15
5. Theo Timmerman NED 136.93
Team results CAIO Aachen 2013:
1. The Netherlands 262.84
2. Germany 270.11
3. Sweden 286.77
FEI World Cup™ Driving qualification standings after Aachen:
1. Boyd Exell AUS 65
2. IJsbrand Chardon NED 64
3. Theo Timmerman NED 58
4. Koos de Ronde NED 54
5. József Dobrovitz jr. HUN 46
6. Chester Weber USA 40
7. Daniel Schneiders GER 35
8. Mark Weusthof NED 33
9. Gert Schrijvers BEL 31
10. Georg von Stein GER 30