Aachen (GER)- Michael Brauchle is the new European Champion of the Four-in-Hand Drivers, silver and bronze go the Netherlands, to Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde. In the European Championships team classification, the Dutch defended their title at the FEI European Championships Aachen 2015. Silver and bronze in the team classification went to the drivers from Germany and Hungary respectively. Due to a typing error in the scoring sheets it took a while until the results were announced and Michael Brauchle could finally celebrate his victory.
The Deutsche Post Marathon, the final driving competition at these European Championships, shook up the rankings of the team and individual classifications. The Oranje drivers had laid the foundation for their victory in the first competition, the dressage. With three drivers under the top four, the defending champions took the lead, ahead of Hungary, Belgium and Germany. The ranking of the teams didn't change after the obstacle driving competition either. After the two disciplines, they had a lead of over 20 minus points. However, after the Marathon this lead shrunk down to just three points, but nevertheless secured the defending titleholders the gold medal. The Dutch team comprised of Ijsbrand Chardon, Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman.
Already in the run-up to the Championships, the national coach of the German drivers, Karl-Heinz Geiger, was relying on the strengths of his team in the Marathon – and he was proven right. After the dressage and cone driving, the home team were lying in fourth place and after the Marathon, they moved up into second place to take the silver medal. Michael Brauchle, the 25-year-old youngsters of the German four-in-hand drivers, drove to victory in the Deutsche Post Marathon.
"Michi simply loves this course," explained the national coach, Geiger. The new European Champion already won the Marathon in Aachen in the years 2008, 2011 and 2013. The winner Brauchle emphasised the brilliance of his horse: "Shakira and Clinton are very strong wheelers, particularly the mare is my life insurance in the cross-country." The German driver, Christoph Sandmann came second in the Deutsche Post Marathon, which ultimately also led to the silver medal for the German team. Georg von Stein, who was handicapped by a broken ankle, was the third driver in the German silver-winning team. "We knew the Marathon would be our day," the German Chef d'Equipe, Friedrich Otto-Erley, said with a grin.
The Hungarian drivers were "very happy" with their bronze medal, as the Hungarian Chef d’Equipe Tamas Toth explained. "It was a very tough task. Thanks to my drivers and the whole team!" Third and fourth places were very close, in the end Hungary came third on a score of 354.03 ahead of the Belgian team on 354.98 minus points!
Michael Brauchle claimed the second gold medal for the German drivers at the FEI European Championships Aachen 2015, he namely won individual gold in the Prize of the Richard Talbot Family. "I never dreamt we would win two gold medals," said an almost speechless Geiger.
Brauchle's course for gold began with ninth place in the dressage – it was the best German result. He came fourth in the cone driving competition and he excelled in the Deutsche Post Marathon, driving the best time in six of the eight obstacles. "I hadn't even thought about winning gold beforehand," stressed Brauchle. "I decided with our national coach before the Marathon that we'd take no risks for the team results." So he took no risks at top speed!
The European Champion comes from a driving family, through and through. His father, Franz Brauchle, is many-time German Champion with all types of driving teams. His mother Brigitte is a driving trainer. His older brother, Steffen, won two-time team gold at the World Championships of the Pony Four-in-Hand teams.
The four-time World Champion, Chardon, was not overly happy with his silver medal: "I was not fast enough today – that was the problem!", he summed up. "Normally it is impossible to beat me by 14 points in the Marathon, but Michael did today!" Shortly after driving through the finish line, the display board announced Chardon as the winner. However, after the results had been checked the official result was announced: Gold for Brauchle, silver for Chardon. With a final score of 162.16 minus points, Brauchle managed to just nose past Chardon (162.37).
Individual bronze went to Chardon's team colleague, Koos de Ronde, as in 2011 in Breda (170.93). de Ronde was full of praise for the Marathon track: "It was a lovely course by Wolfgang Asendorf. We saw great sport and a lot of people enjoyed our sport today." Indeed, 15,000 spectators followed the Deutsche Post Marathon. The atmosphere was fantastic – especially due to the finish line being located in the Main Stadium.