Vecsés, Hungary - Dutch four-in-hand driver Koos de Ronde took the victory at the international combined driving event in Vecsés, Hungary. De Ronde stayed ahead of home driver Zoltán Lázár in this FEI World Cup Qualifying competition, where the horse teams also battled in the nations competition. Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich came third, improving every event with his Lusitano team of horses.
Heat Hit Hungary
The temperature in Vecsés, the home base of the sympathetic Hungarian four-in-hand driver József Dobrovitz and his family, rose to around 30 degrees Celsius throughout the weekend. The organising committee had taken the necessary precautions to ensure the welfare of the horses and shortened the A-section of the marathon to 1,2 kilometres and lowered the pace of the walk section. All competitors got fifteen minutes instead the usual ten minutes rest at the obligatory halt in the marathon before the obstacle phase. This turned out to be a wise decision and none of the competing horses had any problems at the finish of the marathon.
After his second place at the CAIO in Vecsés 2009 and the second place at the CAIO in Breda 2009, Koos de Ronde won a CAIO competition for the first time in his career. De Ronde, who just returned from the USA last Sunday where he trained the US single drivers, has seven top horses at his disposal, which he can choose from. He used two different horses in his four-in-hand team compared to his last competition in Zelhem.
After his fourth place in the dressage, De Ronde proofed his fantastic marathon skills in the seven obstacles, designed by Hungarian O-course designer Gábor Fintha. The obstacles were very tight and demanded much of the four-in-hand competitors and their horses. The obstacles all carried balls and De Ronde was one of the very few drivers who managed not to knock any balls down. De Ronde set the fastest times in four obstacles and won the marathon ahead of Werner Ulrich.
After the dressage and the marathon, De Ronde took the lead in the standings ahead of former pair and four-in-hand World Champion Zoltán Lázár. Lázár drove one of the two double clear rounds of the day, and put a little pressure on De Ronde. The 33-year old professional horseman decided to drive safely and drove a clear round, but did not make the time allowed which resulted in a breathtaking moment. Luckily, his advantage to Lázár was big enough and Koos de Ronde was honoured as the winner.
Werner Ulrich drove his team of Lusitano horses to the third place in the individual standings. Ulrich will, as well as his compatriot Daniel Würgler, compete for Switzerland at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky at the start of October. After the sixth place in the dressage, Ulrich drove the Lusitano’s, which are used to the hot weather conditions, to the second place in the marathon. His lead to Jozsef Dobrovitz was four penalty points, but ‘Dobro’ knocked two balls down. Ulrich however did the same, but secured his third place. Ulrich’s next start will be at the CAI-A in Altenfelden, Austria next weekend. The former Pair and Four-in-Hand World Champion will not start in Austria as usual with his four-in-hand, but with a single horse.
Ulrich competes with the horse Felino of Swiss driver Lilian Luggen. Luggen got injured several weeks ago in an accident in Bern and hereby lost her chances to a starting place at the World Singles in Pratoni at the end of July.
Vecsés, which is located close to Budapest Ferihegy Airport, hosted one of the three nations competitions for the four-in-hand drivers worldwide. The other CAIO’s take place during the CHIO in Aachen (Germany) and in Breda (the Netherlands). Despite the fact that only four nations were represented in Hungary, the drivers made it a very exciting battle. The Hungarians with top drivers Lázár, host Dobrovitz and Istvan Vaczi, took the lead after the dressage but were taken over by the Dutch team after the marathon. De Ronde and his compatriots Theo Timmerman and Hans Heus only enjoyed their lead for a short time however as the Hungarians proofed to be stronger in the final obstacle driving competition. Hungary took the gold, the silver medal went to The Netherlands and the Swiss team, existing of Werner Ulrich, Daniel Würgler and Felix Affrini, went home with the bronze. The German team, made up by Michael Brauchle, Dirk Gerkens and Georg von Stein, came fourth.
Standings World Cup Qualification
This very same weekend, another FEI World Cup Qualifying competition took place in Saumur, France. Four times World Champion IJsbrand Chardon won the competition, ahead of his fellow countryman Harry de Ruyter and Gert Schrijvers from Belgium. After six competitions, Zoltan Lázár leads the standings with 42 points, followed by Koos de Ronde (40) and Jozsef Dobrovitz and IJsbrand Chardon (35). With ten more competitions to go, many things can still happen. The next World Cup qualifying competition takes place in Altenfelden, Austria, from 17-20 June.
Koos de Ronde (Ned): “It was so hot in Vecsés that the Dutch flag did not even move when the national anthem was played for me during the prize giving ceremony!” “It was a great event. The dressage went very well, my horses went rounder and more active and performed much better than in Zelhem. In the marathon I was able to drive very fast, my horses recovered well despite the heat.”
Werner Ulrich (Sui): “My horses are slowly getting better and better. The dressage went better than at my last show in Zelhem and I was very pleased with my marathon. My horses remained light but kept their strength, even in the heat. The obstacle driving competition could have gone better, but I am pleased overall with my performance.”
Individual results CAIO Vecsés (Hun) 10-13 June 2010:
1. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 130,18
2. Zoltán Lázár (Hun) 131,52
3. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 137,99
4. József Dobrovitz (Hun) 141,05
5. Daniel Würgler (Sui) 142,28
6. Theo Timmerman (Ned) 148,92
7. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 150,48
8. Michael Brauchle (Ger) 164,13
9. Ludwig Weinmayr (Ger) 164,35
10.Georg von Stein (Ger) 168,30
Team results CAIO Vecsés (Hun) 10-13 June 2010:
1. Hungary 272.6
2. The Netherlands 279.1
3. Switzerland 280.3
4. Germany 321.1
Standings FEI World Cup Qualification after 6 of 16 competitions:
1 Zoltan Lazar HUN 42
2 Koos de Ronde NED 40
3 József Dobrovitz HUN 35
3 IJsbrand Chardon NED 35
5 Theo Timmerman NED 33
6 Werner Ulrich SUI 32
7 Daniel Würgler SUI 28
7 Tomas Eriksson SWE 28
9 Stéphane Chouzenoux FRA 26
10 Csaba Váczi HUN 25
Photo caption: Koos de Ronde (Ned), winner of the CAIO Vecsés 2010. (c) Marie de Ronde-Oudemans.