IJsbrand Chardon (NED) put down an excellent performance in the electrifying atmosphere of London Olympia (GBR) to win the seventh leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving season 2013/2014. Reigning FEI World Cup™ Champion Koos de Ronde (NED) finished second ahead of the youngest competitor in the field, Germany’s Michael Brauchle.
Dutch World Championship course designer Johan Jacobs built the course in the massive arena in Geneva (SUI) last week and was faced with the challenge of laying out a good course for the drivers in the much tighter but atmospheric arena at Olympia. The course was the perfect combination of technical and fast elements and was easy to follow for the spectators. In a new feature, the action was also shown on the giant screen above the arena, with the letter of the marathon obstacles lighting up as the drivers passed the gates, adding to the excitement amongst the knowledgeable crowds in the packed stands.
IJsbrand Chardon put the pressure on himself by knocking a ball off the first obstacle in the first round. Knowing his opponents Michael Brauchle and Boyd Exell were still to come, Chardon let off the handbrake and put down a really fast time to secure his place in the Winning Round. Brauchle also qualified for the Winning Round, which put the pressure on Exell. The four-time FEI World Cup™ Champion knocked two balls down in the first marathon obstacle and really had to up the speed, but more though he took a very risky shortcut to the last obstacle, the earlier mistakes dropped him to fifth and out of the Winning Round.
The youngest competitor in the field, 23-year-old Michael Brauchle, has improved at every outing. He used his outdoor marathon mare Jamaika in the lead of his team together with the grey gelding Eclair. Brauchle put these two horses together for the first time in Stockholm three weeks ago. Unfortunately he knocked three balls down, but he was still pleased with third and a place in the Winning Round. Brauchle is currently in fifth place in the standings with one more competition to go in Leipzig (GER) from 17-19 January, after which the six finalists will be announced.
Koos de Ronde had to leave two of his most experienced indoor horses at home because of minor injuries and was driving an alternate team at Olympia. Whilst warming up for the FEI World Cup™ competition, de Ronde decided to make a last-minute change of horses. He put Palero, who was in the lead of his team when he won in Hannover, in the wheel, a position he had never been in before. His left leader horse Charley caused some excitement when he jumped over the traces in the first marathon obstacle, but luckily immediately jumped back again, preventing de Ronde from getting extra penalty seconds. The Dutchman gave everything he had and set the second fastest time in the Winning Round for the runner-up spot. He is now certain to defend his title at the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Bordeaux (FRA) from 8-10 February 2014.
Ijsbrand Chardon drove the same team of Lipizzaner horses he won with in Budapest and came second in Geneva. After de Ronde had two mistakes and Brauchle three mistakes in the Winning Round, Chardon had a nine-second advantage. But rather than slowing down and driving safe, Ijsbrand treated the enthusiastic crowd to a fabulous round, beating de Ronde’s time by just 0.19 seconds. One knockdown wasn’t enough to keep the four-time World Champion from his second victory of the season.
European Champion Theo Timmerman (NED) finished fourth, ahead of Boyd Exell, who competed with a wild card. Daniel Schneiders (GER) didn’t have the necessary speed in his team and came sixth. Second wild card driver Georgina Hunt (GBR) drove her outdoor team nice and smoothly through the obstacles. Several British four-in-hand drivers competed in three indoor driving events to qualify for the prestigious FEI World Cup™ Driving competition at Olympia, and Hunt was thrilled to be able to compete at Olympia and was very pleased with her horses, with which she hopes to qualify for the FEI World Cup™ Driving in the near future.
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “I really enjoyed competing at Olympia. I won the test event here in 2011 and the spectators and atmosphere are just perfect. I am of course pleased that I have won, but I would have liked it even better to have won it when Boyd had made it to the Winning Round.”
Koos de Ronde (NED): “During the warm up, one of my horses turned out to be not fit so I decided last minute to bring another horse in. I just went for it and I am very pleased that it worked out well for me.”
Michael Brauchle (GER): “My outdoor leader horse Jamaika helps me for 90%, she is really good. She has a great heart and the will to work. In the Winning Round my other lead horse got a bit too strong which resulted in three balls falling. They just need more fine-tuning.
FEI World Cup™ Driving, London Olympia (GBR), 20 December 2013:
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 216.83
Koos de Ronde (NED) 225.47
Michael Brauchle (GER) 230.79
Theo Timmerman (NED) 114.01
Boyd Exell (AUS) 116.83
Daniel Schneiders (GER) 118.90
Georgina Hunt (GBR) 127.13
FEI World Cup™ Driving, standings after 7 of 9 events:
1 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 32
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 32
3 Koos DE RONDE NED 21
4 Georg VON STEIN GER 19
5 Michael BRAUCHLE GER 15
5 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 15
5 Daniel SCHNEIDERS GER 15
5 Tomas ERIKSSON SWE 15
9 Jozsef DOBROVITZ jnr HUN 11
9 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 11
The 2013/2014 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Mechelen (BEL) on Monday 30 December.