Carola Diener Confirms Her Leading Position in Conty

Germany’s Carola Diener is the winner of the dressage competition of the 15th FEI World Pair Driving Championship in Conty, France. Diener set the winning score of 35,58 penalty points on the first dressage day. Beat Schenk from Switzerland finished second.

The only competitor who managed to intrude in yesterday’s top three was Austrian driver Georg Moser. Moser set a score of  40,19 penalty points and came third, ahead of Baroness Amely von Buchholtz representing Argentina.

Diener started working for the successful German four-in-hand driver Christoph Sandmann in 2007 as a groom. She moved on to training his horses in single and in pairs in which she became very professional. “She is a true profi,” said Sandmann, who is a very happy man at the moment. His 15-year-old daughter Anna competed with the other two horses of his team and finished on the eighth place in the dressage. Sandmann will compete with four out of his six horses that are in Conty at the Open European four-in-hand Championships in Breda (NED) next week.

Beat Schenk drove the same horses as he did at the 2009 Pair World Championships where he won the individual silver medal. Even though he is considered one of the favourites to win the golden medal, Beat himself is quite sober about it: “It all depends on the form of the day and there are many drivers here who could win. The dressage was very important for me and I am very happy that it went the way I wanted to. I think I am in good form, but the marathon tomorrow will be demanding on the horses. The ground is very slippery because of the rain and the water splashes will be heavy for the horses.”

Georg Moser drove two chestnut geldings owned by Belgian harness maker and former international pair driver Henk van der Wiel: “I was offered three pairs at the start of the season and the pair of Van der Wiel suited me most,” commented the 1993 World Champion.

Team member Stéphane Chouzenoux who is from the Conty area, put down the best French performance. Chouzenoux has special memories of Conty as he won the individual gold medal at the World Single Driving Championships which took place at the site of les Ateliers Val de Selle in 2002. Chouzenoux moved on to driving a horse team and has represented France successfully at three four-in-hand World Championships. Chouzenoux did not want to miss out on the chance to compete at another World Championship in Conty and decided to drive a horse pair this season.

Reigning World Champion Harrie Verstappen from the Netherlands ended on a disappointing 26th place. But with his favourite part of the competition ahead of him, anything can happen in tomorrow’s marathon.

With Carola Diener as anchor lady, the German team is leading the nations competition, ahead of Switzerland and The Netherlands.

British course designer Barry Hunter has flagged eight technical obstacles with many challenges for the 69 competitors. After a ca. 7-kilometer long trot and walk section, the competitors will arrive on the main show grounds to conquer the beautifully decorated obstacles which are easy to follow for the spectators.

Photo:  Germany’s Carola Diener is the winner of the dressage competition  Picture by Rinaldo de Craen