Reigning world and FEI World Cup™ Driving champion Boyd Exell (AUS) won his third consecutive series event of the season in Geneva (SUI) yesterday. Exell drove to victory an alternative team of horses in the Palexpo arena ahead of the very strong wildcard driver Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) and Christoph Sandmann (GER).
Home driver Jérôme Voutaz drove an efficient first round and was seven seconds faster than Exell in the first competition on Friday. In the second competition on Sunday the Australian top driver was four seconds faster than Voutaz. This put him in the lead before the Winning Round for which Christoph Sandmann had qualified as well. Sandmann took every risk he could and had three knockdowns, which put him in third place.
Cheered by many fans from his hometown, the Swiss four-in-hand champion 2013 did his best with his team of fast Freiberger horses. He crossed the finish line recording a fast time but knocking down two balls, which gave Exell some air.
Boyd started off fast but had a ball down in the first half of the course, designed by Dutch level 4 course designer Johan Jacobs, much to the excitement of the enthusiastic spectators. Exell had however learned a lot from the previous two nights and pushed his new team towards a record time, securing his third consecutive FEI World Cup™ Driving win of the season and his seventh in Geneva.
Exell has been successful in Stuttgart (GER) and Stockholm (SWE) this season and will compete with a wildcard in London Olympia (GBR) this week. The competitions follow week after week and this busy schedule proved to be too much for the horses. He agreed with fellow driver Daniel Schneiders (GER), who competed with a wildcard on home ground in Stuttgart in November, to use the German’s indoor team in Geneva. Exell used three of Schneiders’ horses and a wheeler horse that belongs to him.
Change Of Plans
Christoph Sandmann was pleasantly surprised with his results in Geneva. The multiple German champion and world championship medal winner scored seven World Cup points for his third place in Geneva since Voutaz was a wild card driver. Sandmann is currently second on the standings and has a fair chance to remain in the top six and qualify for the Final. He will compete again in Mechelen (BEL) and is now considering a change of plan to start making preparations for the series Final in Bordeaux.
József Dobrovitz (HUN) made an expensive mistake by taking a short turn on the course and knocking down a ball from an obstacle, which he had already passed, which cost him a place in the Winning Round. Dobrovitz finished fourth with his team of Lipizzaner horses and has one remaining competition in Leipzig (GER). The Hungarian driver is currently in fifth place on the standings.
Georg von Stein (GER) was well on his way to a good performance but lost precious seconds at the last water gate, which made him drop to fifth place ahead of Werner Ulrich (SUI).
Young Swiss driver Cyril Maret competed for the first time in the FEI World Cup™ Driving in the impressively large arena in Geneva and enjoyed his debut very much. The farrier by profession drove his team of Swiss, Hungarian and Dutch horses to the seventh place. Maret, who lives very close to Geneva, was thrilled to compete in his first year as an international four-in-hand driver.
Benjamin Aillaud (FRA) is a regular wildcard driver in Geneva. Aillaud competed with his team of black Dutch and French horses but had several knockdowns and finished in eight place.
Boyd Exell (AUS): “This team of horses is already very good, I just had to get used to them. I train with Daniel but there is a big difference between training and competing with horses. I got to know them better every day and I am very pleased with their performance. Also for Daniel!”
Jérôme Voutaz (SUI): “It was my second time as a wildcard driver in Geneva and it was an incredible experience. My horses did very well and the fans were amazing. They actually felt like the fifth horse to me, they really made me stronger. It is difficult to get close to Boyd, but he has been very helpful to me. He gave me a tip on the first night and that also helped me today.”
Christoph Sandmann (GER): “My team gets better with every competition. I had planned that Mechelen would be my last World Cup competition, but now it looks like as I might qualify for the Final and I have to change my plans.”
Results FEI World Cup™ Driving, Geneva (SUI), 14 December 2014:
Boyd Exell (AUS) 289,57
Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) 307,51
Christoph Sandmann (GER) 326,38
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 160,19
Georg von Stein (GER) 165,86
Werner Ulrich (SUI) 174,35
Cyril Maret (SUI) 177,88
Benjamin Aillaud (FRA) 187,04
Results in detail can be viewed here
FEI World Cup™ Driving, standings after 4 of 7 events:
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 30
2 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 14
Christoph SANDMANN GER 14
4 József DOBROVITZ HUN 13
5 Koos DE RONDE NED 10
6 Glenn GEERTS BEL 7
Fredrik PERSSON SWE 7
8 Georg VON STEIN GER 6
9 Werner ULRICH SUI 5
10 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 2
The 2014/2015 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to London Olympia (GBR) on Saturday, 20 December.
The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in London Olympia will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on 20 December at 20.05 CET.