Werner Ulrich (SUI) got off to a flying start in the FEI World Cup™ Driving 2012/13 season when he won the series’ fourth leg held in Stockholm (SWE) on Sunday 2 December evening. Runner-up Tomas Eriksson (SWE) made up for his two knockdowns in the first round with a great performance in the Winning Round. Georg von Stein (GER) finished in third place.
The atmosphere was electric in the Ericsson Globe Arena as thousands of enthusiastic spectators cheered the six four-in-hand drivers and especially the three home competitors. Swedish international course designer Dan Henriksson had designed a challenging course in the small arena which included many technical parts and fast lines.
In 2013, the Stockholm International Horse Show will be held in the Globe Arena for the last time. From 2014 onwards, the event will be known as the Sweden International Horse Show and will move to the Swedbank Arena in Solna, north of Stockholm.
Single Horse in the Lead
Werner Ulrich used his son’s single horse for the first time in the right lead position and was very pleased with the performance. Ulrich was last to start in the Winning Round and he knew he had an advantage of approximately 12 seconds over Eriksson. The 1998 four-in-hand world champion drove a clear and fast round and secured his first victory of the season.
Eager to Win
Tomas Eriksson had two knockdowns in the first round after his leader horses went into the wrong gap in the marathon type obstacle and thought he had lost his chances to qualify for the Winning Round. Last starter Christoph Sandmann (GER) however left the arena with 20 penalty seconds thus allowing Eriksson to qualify for the Winning Round. Eriksson, who had won the FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifier on home ground in Stockholm in 2002, 2009 and 2010, was eager to win again and gave everything he had. The double world four-in-hand champion drove the fastest clear round, but this was not enough to beat Ulrich.
Georg von Stein had to change a horse after the first competition on Saturday. One of his horses suffered from colic after the class and required immediate treatment. It recovered well but von Stein decided to use his spare horse in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition. After his fifth place in Hannover and his fourth place in Stuttgart, von Stein performed better in Stockholm and finished third.
New Leader Horses
Christoph Sandmann used two new leader horses in Stockholm, which he had borrowed from Daniel Schneiders, his backstepper in this competition. Sandmann won the first competition, but his leader horses let him down in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition. Sandmann stood in the wrong gate in the marathon obstacle and had altogether four knockdowns dropping to fourth place.
Lack of Rhythm
Like Werner Ulrich, Fredrik Persson (SWE) also began his FEI World Cup™ Driving season in Stockholm. However his horses could not get into the right rhythm and Persson finished in fifth place, ahead of wild card driver Axel Olin (SWE), whose horses could not find the right speed.
Werner Ulrich (SUI): “I was a little too careful in the first round, but I was much faster in the second round. I have not driven this team for a long time in this setting and I wanted to see how they went and how fast they could be. The horses were very good and I am pleased with my results.”
Tomas Eriksson (SWE): “I pushed my horses too hard in the first round and this caused the mistake. I did not expect to make it to the Winning Round and I was of course very happy to get a second chance. I went at full speed pushing my horses all the time, which resulted in the best time of the evening. I am very happy with my second place.”
Georg von Stein (GER): “My team went significantly better compared to Stuttgart. I have now gathered the right five horses and I know that I can perform at the highest level with all of them.”
Results CAI-W Stockholm 2012:
Werner Ulrich (SUI) 230.10
Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 236.28
Georg von Stein (GER) 242.73
Christoph Sandmann (GER) 167.67
Fredrik Persson (SWE) 170.50
Axel Olin (SWE) 183.91
Standings after 4 of 8 events:
1. IJsbrand CHARDON (NED) 27
2. Boyd EXELL (AUS) 15
Eq 3. Georg VON STEIN (GER) 12
Eq 3. Tomas ERIKSSON (SWE) 12
5. Werner ULRICH (SUI) 10
Eq 6. Jozsef DOBROVITZ (HUN) 9
Eq 6. Theo TIMMERMAN (NED) 9
Eq 8. Koos DE RONDE (NED) 6
Eq 8. Christoph SANDMANN (GER) 6
10. Fredrik PERSSON (SWE) 2
The 2012/2013 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, 8 December. For information on the next leg go to www.chi-geneve.ch or contact Press Officer Corinne Druey, email@example.com, +41 21 312 82 22.
Photo Caption: Werner Ulrich (SUI) started off his FEI World Cup™ Driving 2012/13 season with a victory in Stockholm (SWE) ©Anna Aalto/FEI.