After a superb dressage test, a wonderful marathon and a nearly faultless obstacle driving competition, 23-year-old Carola Diener from Germany was declared the new World Champion at the 15th FEI World Pair Driving Championships at Conty, France. The silver medal went to home driver Stéphane Chouzenoux; Tom Engbers from The Netherlands won the individual bronze medal.
The Dutch team, led by coach and trainer Harry de Ruyter who was appointed in February of this year, took home the golden team medal again. The German team claimed the silver medal while the French team were very pleased to have won the bronze team medal.
Carola Diener set the basis for her first World Championship medal in the dressage, which she won ahead of Beat Schenk (SUI) and Georg Moser (AUT). Diener, who is the stable manager of German international four-in-hand driver Christoph Sandmann, came 12th in the marathon but kept her lead in the individual standings. The marathon was won by 24-year-old Tom Engbers, ahead of Tibor Nagy jr. (HUN), who is only 21 years old. Diener was last to go in the very difficult obstacle driving competition in which only two drivers until that moment had driven a double clear round. Carola could afford one ball and some time penalties to Stéphane Chouzenoux who was on silver. But the professional horsewoman kept her nerves together and left all the balls on the cones and only got 1,94 penalty points for exceeding the time allowed: “It is an incredible feeling to be the new World Champion, but I do not realize it very well yet!”
Stéphane Chouzenoux won the individual gold medal exactly nine years ago at the FEI World Single Driving Championships on the very same site of the Ateliers de Val de Selle in Conty. Chouzenoux moved on to competing with a four-in-hand and successfully represented France at several World four-in-hand Championships. The 40-year old manager of a construction company did not want to miss out the opportunity to compete in another World Championship in Conty and started to drive a horse pair at the start of this season. Chouzenoux has been the best French driver throughout the whole competition, starting with the 7th place in dressage. He came 6th in the heavy marathon and moved up to bronze in the individual standings. Thanks to his double clear round in the cones competition, only the second one of the day, he moved up to individual silver and contributed to the French team bronze: “I never expected to win silver at this World Championship. When I came out of the arena after my double clear round I started to think it was possible. I thank Tom Engbers for knocking one ball down which took me to silver.”
Tom Engbers started off with the 15th place in dressage and left his fellow competitors far behind in the challenging marathon in which he set the fastest times in five of the eight obstacles. Tom climbed to silver in the standings but one knock down in the final obstacle driving competition dropped him to the individual bronze medal: “I was very angry with myself when I knocked that ball down, but then I realized it is only my first World Championship and I am very pleased with my individual bronze medal and with my contribution to the golden team medal.”
Photo: Carola Diener from Germany was declared the new World Champion at the 15th FEI World Pair Driving Championships Picture by Rinaldo de Craen