Four-time FEI World Cup Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) claimed the inaugural edition of the FEI World Cup™ Driving at the popular Fieracavalli equestrian event in Verona (ITA). Exell finished ahead of European four-in-hand Champion and wild card competitor Theo Timmerman (NED), and József Dobrovitz jnr (HUN), driving his first FEI World Cup™ event of the new season.
Fieracavalli, which this year celebrated its 115th anniversary, has been host to FEI World Cup™ Jumping for many years, but it is the first time Verona has hosted an FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifier. The Driving was scheduled after the popular Gala evening and, despite the late night hour, many spectators stayed to watch spectacular driving sport offered by the seven top drivers.
Following the death of Boyd Exell’s top horse Bill last summer; the Australian has found a potential successor in the 13-year old trotter gelding Knight Templar. Exell drove a very fast clear round and had already set an advantage of over 12 penalty seconds. He wanted to try something more technical in the winning round and took tighter turns in the obstacles. Although that resulted in two knockdowns, his lead was strong enough to hold onto victory.
Theo Timmerman received a wild card from the organising committee and proved to be more than worth it. Timmerman lived and worked in Italy for many years and knew the Fieracavalli as a visitor. He set the goal for himself to use the competitions in Hannover and Verona to get his four-in-hand ready for the other four competitions in which he is competing. He knocked two balls of the last two cones in the first round and was very pleased to still qualify for the Winning Round, in which he set a fast time.
All Round Horseman
Less than a week earlier, József Dobrovitz jnr won the individual silver medal in the pony four-in-hand class at the FEI World Championships for Combined Ponies in Pau (FRA), and the 21-year-old proved to be a true all round horseman by putting down two wonderful rounds with his horse team in Verona. Like Exell and Timmerman and József Dobrovitz senior, who were in Pau as trainers, József jnr did not have a chance to practise with his horses as he was focusing on his pony team over the last two weeks.
Dobrovitz jnr deliberately drove long but fast routes in the course, designed by O-course designer Johan Jacobs, who is also responsible for the indoor courses at Olympia and Mechelen. Junior’s left leader horse Aba Sam, which is part of his outdoor team as well, caused some problems on the first night and was not in his usual mood, but after a change of bit, the seven-year-old Lipizzaner performed well again. Junior’s right leader Janko has only been in Dobrovitz’ stables for the past three weeks and was a pairs horse before.
For Georg von Stein (GER) Verona was his first FEI World Cup™ competition of the season. Von Stein drove his team of mixed breed geldings to fourth place, assisted by two German four-in-hand colleagues. The well-known and successful driver Christoph Sandmann acted as navigator for Von Stein, while Sascha Utz was on the back-step.
József Dobrovitz senior came sixth, driving a new horse in the left lead for the first time. Von Stein’s compatriot Michael Brauchle experienced some problems with his four-in-hand, which became a bit too strong to handle during the course, resulting in several knockdowns for sixth place.
The famous and popular Italian driver Carlo Mascheroni was delighted to compete in Verona after receiving the second wild card. The 73-year-old pair and four-in-hand driver conquered the course with his team of German and Dutch bred horses to finish in seventh.
Boyd Exell: “The potential in Verona is very good, just the timing needs to be different to make it better for the spectators, sponsors, our horses and ourselves. The course was good, it was flowing and fast. I am very pleased with my new horse Knight, he can be a universal horse but he just needs more experience.”
Theo Timmerman: “I haven’t had time to train my indoor team in the past two weeks so I am very happy that it went well for me. I put these horses out in the field last summer and I noticed that it takes a lot of time to get them back in form, so I won’t do that again next season. I enjoy indoor driving, it makes me quicker during the outdoor events as well.”
József Dobrovitz jnr.: “This is my first season as a World Cup driver, I drove with a wild card before in Budapest, but indoor driving is definitely a different game. I just have to learn to drive the cones and the obstacles without mistakes. My father was very happy for me that I did well. He is happier when I do better than him!”
FEI World Cup™ Driving, Verona (ITA), 8 November 2013:
Boyd Exell (AUS) 246,93
Theo Timmerman (NED) 261,83
József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) 262,11
Georg von Stein (GER) 138,66
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 140,81
Michael Brauchle (GER) 166,84
Carlo Mascheroni (ITA) 169,32
FEI World Cup™ Driving, standings after 2 of 9 events:
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 17
2 Koos DE RONDE NED 10
3 Jozsef DOBROVITZ jnr HUN 7
=4 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 5
=4 Michael BRAUCHLE GER 5
=4 Georg VON STEIN GER 5
7 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 3
8 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 2
The FEI World Cup™ Driving 2013/2014 series now moves on to Stuttgart (GER) on Saturday, 16 November. For information on the next leg go to www.stuttgart-german-masters.de or contact Press Officer Hartmut Binder, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 172 972 2848