After four days of fascinating sport at the FEI World Pair Driving Championships at the Topoľčianky stud in Slovakia, 46-year old Vilmos Lázár (HUN) was crowned the new world Driving champion, making this his fourth world pair gold. Silver was claimed by Germany’s Sebastian Warneck, and Lázár’s younger brother Zoltan took bronze.
Hungary also took team gold for the fifth time in the history of the FEI World Pair Driving Championships, after victories in 1989, 1999, 2001 and 2003, with Germany finishing on silver, and bronze going to the Netherlands.
Dressage Queen Diener
The Dressage took place over two days in brilliant sunshine in the Topoľčianky arena. Germany’s 25-year-old defending FEI World Pair Driving Champion Carola Diener, drove a consistent test finishing on 35.58, taking the lead from Ireland’s Barry Capstick. With the solid score from her compatriot and World Singes Champion in 2010, Thorsten Zarembowicz, Germany went into pole position, with Hungary lying second and Ireland third.
President of Slovakia Cheers On
The Hungarian course designer Gabor Fyntha was responsible for the exciting marathon course around the Topoľčianky racetrack, with all eight marathon obstacles requiring the best technical skills from the drivers.
More than 5,000 spectators, including the President of Slovakia Ivan Gaŝparoviĉ, cheered on the drivers. Vilmos Lázár, competing with Lipizzaners bred in Topolcianky, won the marathon by a strong margin, with 2009 world champion Harrie Verstappen (NED) taking second place, and Polish driver Jacek Kozlowski finishing third.
Ireland’s Barry Capstick and his wife Anna had an unfortunate accident during the marathon phase when their carriage upturned. They were taken to hospital immediately, where Barry was diagnosed with a fracture. His wife was unhurt and they were both discharged later that evening. The horses were also unhurt.
The cones proved to be a challenge with no-one going clear, but the Hungarian Tibor Nagy Jr finished with just 4.67 penalty points, followed by FEI World Pair Driving débutante Rachel Blanchard (USA) and Germany’s Sebastian Warneck.
Vilmos Lázár kept his nerves, and with 9.41 penalty points, the crowd saw him not only win gold but help to secure this team’s gold medal result. Carola Diener regrettably had 18 penalty points in the cones phase, relegating her to bronze with Sebastian Warneck taking silver.
The team competition was won by Hungary after a close battle with Germany, and the Netherlands took bronze.
Vilmos Lázár (HUN, gold): “Fourth time gold is amazing, but getting team gold with my brother Zoltan is really special. This is one of the best organisations of a World Championships - not only well organised, but with a heart.”
Sebastian Warneck (GER, silver): “I am extremely happy with silver. I bought these horses three years ago, and they are now seven years old - in two years, they will be ready for the real top. This has been a fantastic World Championships, and especially today - I enjoyed driving with this pair. World Champion in two years? I hope!!”
Zoltan Lázár (HUN, bronze): ‘My brother convinced me to compete with a pair in this year’s World Championships. I will stick with the four-in-hand, but to win gold after ten years with him is very special.”
Facts and figures:
72 competitors from 23 nations.
21 nations competed as teams.
The field included 5 (former) individual FEI World Pair Champions: Zoltán Lázár (HUN, World Champion in 1997); Vilmos Lázár (HUN, World Champion 1999, 2001, 2007); Georg Moser (AUT, World Champion 1993); Harrie Verstappen (NED, World Champion 2009); Carola Diener (GER, World Champion 2011); Thorsten Zarembowicz (GER) was World Singes Champion in 2010.
Spectators on marathon day: 5,000.
Total number of horses: 206.
Eldest competitor: Amely von Buchholtz (ARG), aged 65.
Youngest competitor: Antonio Maria Simoes (POR), aged 19.
Final results - Individuals:
Vilmos Lázár (HUN), 130.57
Sebastian Warneck (GER), 135.78
Zoltan Lázár (HUN), 136.27
Final results - Teams:
Hungary (Vilmos Lázár, Zoltan Lázár, Tibor Nagy), 260.02
Germany (Carola Diener, Arndt Lörcher, Thorsten Zarembowicz), 272.86
Netherlands (Harrie Verstappen, Gerard Leijten, Carlo Vermeulen), 298.06