Boyd Exell proved to be of a different class again in the sixth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Mechelen, Belgium. Exell remained untouched throughout the competition and stayed far ahead of his rivals Tomas Eriksson (SWE) and IJsbrand Chardon (NED). Mechelen is Boyd’s fourth consecutive win of the season after his victories at Stockholm, Budapest and Geneva. With only the Final in Bordeaux left for the triple FEI World Cup winner, Boyd can relax and enjoy his well-deserved holiday in his home country Australia for the next few weeks.
Exciting Until the Last Moment
It was one of the best FEI World Cup™ Driving competitions ever in the Nekkerhal, which remained exciting until the very last moment. No less than eight drivers battled for a place on the podium. Second starter Georg von Stein drove a fast clear round, which more experienced indoor drivers like Koos de Ronde and Jozsef Dobrovitz were unable to beat. Tomas Eriksson was the first to beat Von Stein’s time and secured his place for the winning round. IJsbrand Chardon caused even more excitement by knocking a ball off the first obstacle, but finished only 0.48 seconds behind Eriksson and also qualified for the winning round. Boyd Exell finished the job without any hesitation and took the lead.
In the winning round, Chardon gave Eriksson some more air by knocking three balls down. The Swedish top driver however knocked two balls down himself but was a little quicker and took over the lead. Last starter Exell drove his team of horses without any faults through the much-praised course, designed by Dutch O-course designer Johan Jacobs and secured his fourth consecutive win of this season.
Bill is Back
Boyd used ‘good old’ Bill in the Nekkerhal for the first time this season in the right lead position again. The 19-year-old gelding was part of Boyd’s winning team at the FEI World Cup Finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Exell spared his best horse in order to be able to use him for the Final in Bordeaux and he used Mechelen as a ‘warm up’ competition to get Bill back into his rhythm. “I had to concentrate to keep up with Bill,” said Boyd. “Bill is very instinctive and he feels where I want to go. He allows me to gather speed easily without a lot of risk.
Fighting for a Place in the Final
The goal of Tomas Eriksson, who won the FEI World Cup™ Driving event in Mechelen in 2007, was to gain as many points as possible to secure his starting ticket for the Final. Tomas is currently in fifth position in the standings after Mechelen. The double World Champion has to put down another top performance in Leipzig in three weeks to be able to compete at the Final in Bordeaux, which is open to the top six drivers in the standings after Leipzig.
IJsbrand Chardon had an unlucky knock down in the first round. The four-time World Champion then gave everything he had in the second round, but went too fast and knocked three balls down, which is unusual for IJsbrand.
Tips and Tricks
Georg von Stein had received some tips and tricks from Exell and Eriksson the night before the World Cup competition, which paid off when he drove an excellent clear round and secured fourth place. Jozsef Dobrovitz and wild card driver Koos de Ronde did not get into their usual speedy rhythm and finished fifth and sixth.
In the Footsteps of his Grandfather
Twenty-two year old wild card competitor Glenn Geerts followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, former international Belgian four-in-hand driver Achille Snoeys and competed in the Nekkerhal for the first time with his team of Dutch warm blood geldings. Snoeys received the wild card in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Ten times Belgian Champion Gert Schrijvers competed in the FEI World Cup Driving™ competition in Mechelen for the tenth time this year but a lack of indoor routine made the third wild card driver end the competition in eighth place.
Boyd Exell (AUS): “Boyd Exell (AUS): “In the winning round we said we would go clean and clear and when the rhythm was good, we would let them fly. We took the first obstacle very tight and fast, my navigator Michelle told me in the second obstacle that we did not need to go that fast, so I steadied up a little bit.” “The course was good for the public, they were sitting very close to the arena which allowed them to feel the horses. And when the spectators started to make noise with their feet, I could feel the horses go from V8 to V12.”
Tomas Eriksson (SWE): “This was the best course in Mechelen that I have seen for years. Johan Jacobs has done a very good job. My goal was to make it to the winning round so I am happy that I made it. I still have to go for it in Leipzig as I am not certain of a place for the Final.”
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “I went all or nothing in the winning round but I made too many mistakes. I am happy though that I have tried it. The horses went fast and turned well and I am pleased that I finished in the top three.”
Results CAI-W Mechelen 2011:
Boyd Exell (AUS) 194,51
Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 211,13
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 215,03
Georg von Stein (GER) 106,02
Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) 108,97
Koos de Ronde (NED) 116,47 wild card
Glenn Geerts (BEL) 127,33 wild card
Gert Schrijvers (BEL) 136,93 wild card
Standings after 6 of 7 events:
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 30
2 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 24
Koos DE RONDE NED 24
4 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 15
5 Tomas ERIKSSON SWE 12
6 Zoltan LÁZÁR HUN 11
7 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 7
8 Werner ULRICH SUI 6
Georg VON STEIN GER 6
10 Rainer DUEN GER 5
The 2011/2012 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Leipzig, Germany on Sunday, 22 January. For information on the next leg go to www.partner-pferd.de or contact Press Officer Andreas Kerstan, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 4307 827970.
Photo Caption: Boyd Exell (AUS), winner of the sixth FEI World Cup™ Driving 2011/2012 qualifier held in Mechelen (BEL) this weekend. ©Rinaldo de Craen/FEI