Dutch carriage-driver Ijsbrand Chardon stood up in his carriage and waved to a madly cheering audience at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, after winning the FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell.
Ijsbrand had achieved the seemingly impossible in overhauling the hitherto unbeatable world number one Boyd Exell, who was competing on a wild card at Olympia, and is now guaranteed a place in the final in Bordeaux, France, in February.
Koos de Ronde, also from the Netherlands, finished third, despite a tip-up after crossing the finish line in the final round. His horses, however, were none the worse for the spill and were able to perform in the traditionally rousing prize-giving ceremony.
Showing the camaraderie for which the sport is renowned, all the other drivers rushed to help. Boyd commented: ‘No one likes accidents to happen but it is good for spectators to see how difficult our sport is.’
He added sportingly: ‘It is good for the sport for someone else to win – this certainly won’t ruin my Christmas!’
Ijsbrand’s victory was all the more remarkable because he had to switch his usual lead horse, Aladin, due to the horse having a cough. Instead, he drove the more experienced but harder to manage Lipizzaner Inci.
‘The feeling was just great,’ said a visibly elated Ijsbrand, a man who has dominated the sport of carriage-driving for three decades. ‘I know that Inci has to grow in competition, he just needs a bit of time. My horses felt super and I haven’t knocked any balls down for three days, which is brilliant.’
The British representative Daniel Naprous, whose ‘day job’ is as a stuntman on the film Wonder Woman, put up a good performance with his team of Lipizzaner horses. He was disappointed to finish last, but acknowledged that the overseas drivers are very hard to beat.
For more information visit www.olympiahorseshow.com