The unexpected happened in Budapest (HUN) this afternoon as IJsbrand Chardon (NED) beat top favourite Boyd Exell (AUS) and won the third leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving 2012/13. Exell finished in third place behind Chardon’s fellow Dutch driver Theo Timmerman.
The competition that took place in the Hungarian capital’s Papp Lászlo Sport arena was of the highest quality and was held in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. Hungarian O-course designer Gábor Fintha had laid out a fast and technical course, which included the traditional spectacular fireworks coming on after the drivers had crossed the bridge.
Despite the knockdowns in the previous FEI World Cup™ Driving events, today four-time world champion Chardon went clear in both rounds. He was competing in Budapest for the first time since 2007 when he had taken part in the World Cup test event driving the four-in-hand Lipizzaner horses borrowed from József Dobrovitz (HUN), which he would later buy. And exactly like five years ago, he was victorious over Exell.
Chardon, who was last to go in the Winning Round, knew he was seven seconds ahead of Timmerman and Exell and he decided not to take any risks. Chardon’s horses were in top form and helped the 24-time Dutch national champion drive a faultless round securing the team’s first victory of the season. Chardon is in the lead of the FEI World Cup™ Driving standings and is, together with Boyd Exell, certain of a starting place in the Final in Bordeaux (FRA) next February.
Theo Timmerman fought back after his somewhat disappointing first performance of the season in Stuttgart (GER) two weeks ago. Timmerman, who had placed fourth at the FEI World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships in Riesenbeck (GER), was able to use his experienced wheeler horse Boris which had not competed in Stuttgart. This made all the difference to Timmerman’s team. The professional horse trainer qualified for the Winning Round where he set a very fast time crossing the finishing line without any penalty points. Timmerman, who was competing in Budapest for the first time, finished second, just ahead of Boyd Exell.
Today Boyd Exell proved he was not only an excellent driver but also a true sportsman. The five-time FEI World Cup™ Driving champion was first to go in the Winning Round and knocked one ball down, which was not noticed by the officials. Exell reported his mistake to the judges and the results were corrected accordingly which made Exell drop from second to third place. His spirit of fair play was much appreciated by the other drivers.
Boyd Exell had decided to put Bill in at Budapest to spare Crackle, who is recovering from the heavy competition in Stuttgart. In the first round, right leader Bill made a sharp turn in a marathon type obstacle and knocked one ball down. He also had a small problem in the second marathon type obstacle, which cost him precious seconds. Exell did nevertheless record the fastest time in the Winning Round, which took place over the same course, but the knock down made him finish in third place.
The third Dutch driver Koos de Ronde also had one unfortunate knock down, which cost him his place in the Winning Round. He finished fourth ahead of home driver József Dobrovitz. Dobrovitz, who is from the nearby village of Vecsés, was unable keep up with the fast times and had one knock down which made him finish in fifth place.
Dobrovitz’ 20-year-old son József Dobrovitz Jr. and Lászlo Kecskeméti were the wild card recipients in Budapest. Dobrovitz Jr., who will compete with a four-in-hand horse and a four-in-hand pony teams next season, drove a new combination of Lipizzaner horses, including a new leader horse. Unfortunately Dobrovitz’s leader horses pulled away just before the bridge, which had to be rebuilt. After that Dobrovitz Jr. lost his concentration and left the arena with 20 penalty seconds finishing in sixth place. Kecskeméti had worked with the four-in-hand owned by Zoltán Korsos for two years. The left leader horse was borrowed from the Hungarian driver Jozsef Scheik, who had received the wild card in Budapest in 2011. Kecskeméti, who had been driving this four-in-hand for two weeks, was unable to put on a good performance in this very strong field and finished seventh.
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “Budapest just feels good to me. I beat Exell here in 2007 and again this year. In Hannover and Stuttgart I missed the fine-tuning, but here it all came together. I could drive very easily and did not have the feeling that I was going to make mistakes. My horses were in super form, but Boyd’s team is still the fastest, so I have to keep working on that.”
Theo Timmerman (NED): “Last year I trained my indoor team of horses too much in Dressage, which did not make them any faster. I now drive with greater pressure. The horses release the pressure on the course, which allows me to drive much faster. I went for the first place and I am very happy I was so successful in Budapest. The Final in Bordeaux is now a little closer. I had somewhat lost hope after Stuttgart but now I feel much more confident.”
Boyd Exell (AUS): “The speed of my horses was fantastic, I have nothing no complain about. But at this level you have to take all the risk you can and it doesn’t always come out perfectly. Congratulations to Theo and IJsbrand, they were simply better today. I made some small but expensive errors and I lost some sharpness. It is better for the sport that Ijsbrand and Theo beat me, but not for me personally!”
Results CAI-W Budapest 2012:
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 217,18
Theo Timmerman (NED) 225,18
Boyd Exell (AUS) 225,53
Koos de Ronde (NED) 118,74
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 121,29
József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) 148,04
László Kecskeméti (HUN) 152,51