The Netherlands’ notorious marathon specialist Koos De Ronde won the day at the FEI World Driving Championships with his score of 117.28 points.
With his team of four-hand-horses he jumped 10 places in the overall individual standings to sit fourth with just the cones test to come.
With his wife on the top step, de Ronde upped his game after a disappointing dressage where his left wheeler did an uncharacteristic rear in the back up part of the test.
De Ronde and his wife Marie have their training facility, Staal de Ronde in Zwartewaal, Netherlands provided a training base for the US Para Drivers who recently competed in the World Chapionships for Para Drivers in the Netherlands.
De Ronde recently won the marathon phase in Aachen, Germany helping to clinch the Dutch Team Medal.
But here in Tryon, a repeat will be tough as both father and son drivers Isjbrand and Bram Chardon had uncharacteristic errors in the marathon accumulating 40 penalty points.
De Ronde’s magnificent drive saved what was otherwise a disastrous day for the men in orange.
Father and son, Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon both made significant, uncharacteristic errors dropping the Dutch, winner of the team competition in 2010 and 2014, down to third in the standings.
Team USA lead on 338.55 points, more than 15 points clear of Team Belgium.
“It was terrible. It’s a big disappointment for us both but eventually it will make you stronger and for now we have to keep the team together,” said Bram Chardon. The 25 year old was 18th quickest on the day with his father just two places better off.
No strangers to the US, de Ronde makes frequent trips to the US to coach four-in-hand driver Allison Stroud, the reserve US Driver for the World Equestrian Games Tryon.
Mutiple World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS), Indivudal leader after Dressage maintained his lead finishing third in the marathon in spite of failure of the brakes on his marahton carriage making for a hairy drive.
"Hazards three, four and five are all up and down dips, so the reins were around my head one moment and then on the floor and then round my neck. But we fought. We didn’t give up; we kept fighting all the way."
rite US Driver Chester Weber kept up the pressure on the all-conquering Australian with a controlled display, backed up by an intricately planned strategy designed to combat the searing heat and humidity. “We have done a lot of studying of lactate levels and heart rates to try and get the horses ready for this,” Weber explained. “When the temperatures get hotter, the heart rates get higher and lactates grow. We trained them at home (Florida, USA) with gallop sets – you can actually train them to drop their heart rate.”
Hitting his pre-planned targets all the way round, Weber brought home his carriage in 125.51, the fifth best score of the day.
The American drivers are currently in the lead ahead of Belgium by a healthy margin giving them a shot for an historic Team Gold for the USA, the first Gold Medal in a World Equestrian Games.
The 29-year-old Belgian Edouard Simonet sits just behind him in the overall standings, after adding a confident marathon drive to his solid dressage score. A protégée of Boyd Exell’s, Simonet is a real threat to the big two with his favoured cones test to come. “I love the game, so let’s play tomorrow,” Simonet said.