The FEI World Single Driving Championships return to Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA) from 28 July to 1 August. Pratoni hosted the Single Horse Driving Championships very successfully in 2006 and the Italian Equestrian Federation is now welcoming the competitors on their site for the sixth edition of these Championships.
It was just 12 years ago that the first official FEI Single Championships took place at Ebbs (AUT). The next Championship was due to take place in 2000 in Gladstone (USA), but was cancelled at the last minute because of the West Nile Virus. The Championship made a return to the FEI calendar in 2002 in the picturesque village of Conty (FRA), which organises an international driving event every year. Conty will also host the 2011 FEI World Pair Driving Championships.
As one of the world’s leading single driving nations, Sweden had the honour to host the 2004 World Single Championships, followed by Pratoni in 2006 and Jarantów (POL) in 2008.
Amongst the 76 competitors from 20 nations heading for Pratoni is the first World Champion from Ebbs 1998, Arja Mikkonen (FIN), who has competed in every World Single Driving Championship so far.
In 2002 France’s Anne Violaine Brisou was well on her way to claiming the gold medal, but was eliminated in the final obstacle driving competition. The title then went to her compatriot Stéphane Chouzenoux, who is now a four-in-hand driver. Brisou however continued to perform at high level and will defend her 2008 individual silver medal and France’s golden team medal in Pratoni.
Sweden’s Marie Kahrle won the individual and team gold on home soil in Astorp 2004 but is not selected to represent Sweden in Pratoni this year. Four years ago in Pratoni it was Britain’s individual competitor Paul Sidwell who surprised everyone by taking home the individual and team gold.
The 2008 World Championships were won by Dutch driver Jan van den Broek, 68 years old at that time. Multiple Dutch National Champion Van den Broek will defend his title in Pratoni, still going strong despite his advancing years.
The sport of single driving attracts competitors of all ages. Jan van den Broek is now 70 years old and is the oldest competitor in Pratoni. At the opposite end of the scale is Antonio Simoes (POR), the youngest compeitor at just 16 years old! And both drivers were born 10 days apart in January, Antonio on the 7th and Jan on the 17th.
The World Championship in Pratoni include eight beautiful marathon obstacles, which are located on the undulating landscape. The course design is in the very capable hands of Christian Iseli (AUT), assisted by Italy’s Franco Provenziani. Dr. Franz Josef Vetter (GER) chairs the Ground Jury.
- Wednesday, 28 July: Horse Inspection
- Thursday, 29 July: Dressage
- Friday, 30 July: Dressage
- Saturday, 31 July: Marathon
- Sunday, 1 August: Obstacle Driving competition & medal ceremony
Photo caption: 70-year-old Jan van den Broek (NED) will defend his World title in Pratoni. (c) Hippoevent