From 21 to 25 September, the Lipica Stud Farm in Slovenia will host the fifth edition of the FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies. Seventy-seven drivers from 17 nations will compete in the singles, pairs and four-in-hand classes.
Title defender Melanie Becker (NED) will compete with her world champion pony Ostara’s Sandor in the singles category. Pony pairs world champion Daniel Schneiders (GER) has successfully moved on to the pony four-in-hand class. One of Schneider’s biggest opponents will be the reigning pony four-in-hand champion Tobias Bücker (GER).
The eldest competitor is 65-year-old Hannu Kalalahti (FIN), who will be making his world championship debut at Lipica. The youngest competitor David Palkovics (HUN) will celebrate his 14th birthday on the Marathon day of his first world championship.
There will be six teams, each consisting of a minimum of one and a maximum of two drivers per class and per nation, fighting for the medals. Title defender Germany and silver medallist The Netherlands are tipped as the favourites for the nations competition.
The Driven Dressage and Cones Competitions will be held in the main stadium. Swiss FEI O-course designer Christian Iseli, who is well-known for his work at world championships, has built eight beautiful obstacles located close to each other in the fields of the Lipica Stud Farm. For the first time the Marathon will include a cool down section where the ponies will be given a few moments of rest after they complete the course and before the compulsory veterinary inspection.
Lipica Stud Farm, one of the world’s oldest stud farms, is famous for its Lipizzaner horses. In addition to its exceptional tradition in horse-breeding, Lipica is renowned for its long experience in the organisation of national and international equestrian events. International Dressage competitions have been held in Lipica since 1974; the venue will host an FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier for the fourth consecutive year. Dressage is of particular importance to the Lipica equestrian tradition: the Classic Riding School of the Lipica Stud Farm was established over 40 years ago for training Lipizzaners in the classic art of Dressage. In 1993, Lipica hosted the FEI European Dressage Championships for seniors and in 2000 the FEI European Dressage Championships for Juniors and Young Riders. In 2009, Lipica successfully entered the Driving world.
For more information on the FEI World Driving Championships for Combined Ponies, please check the event’s official website.
Photo caption: Tobias Bücker of Germany is the title defender in the four-in-hand category © Rinaldo de Craen