Boyd Exell Takes the Lead in FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Bordeaux

Saturday, February 4, 2012
Posted by Cindy Timmer, FEI Communications

Triple World Cup winner Boyd Exell (AUS) has taken the lead in the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Bordeaux (FRA) after the first competition on Friday 3 February.  Many spectators attended the first competition of the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final despite it ending close to midnight. Boyd drove an excellent round in a thrilling competition which kept the spectators on the edge of their seats.
The defending World Cup champion managed to put a 15-second lead between himself and Jozsef Dobrobitz (HUN), who was leading the competition. Exell drove a clear round, using the same four-in-hand team with which he amazingly won at Mechelen (BEL) at the end of December 2011, using his best horse Bill.

Flat Out
Second into the arena Jozsef Dobrovitz took a risk by using a completely new horse to lead his team. The seven-year-old bay gelding Horus Alom only arrived at Dobrovitz’ stables last October. Dobrovitz drove the horse in his team at an indoor competition last weekend and got so excited that he decided to bring it to Bordeaux. Dobrovitz went flat out through the rather technical course, designed by German course designer Falk Böhnisch, setting the time to beat.

Unable to Beat
Dobrovitz took the lead and none of the competitors who followed him were able to beat his score, until Exell entered the arena. Dobrovitz’ compatriot Zoltan Lazar knocked two balls down and finished sixth, ahead of wild card driver Thibault Coudry (FRA). Koos de Ronde (NED) was well on his way to equal Dobrovitz’ score but knocked down two balls in the second part of the course and came fifth. Tomas Eriksson (SWE) completed the first clear round of the evening, but came in two seconds short to take the lead. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) was determined to beat Dobrovitz, driving the Hungarian’s former team of grey Lipizzaner horses. But after a knock down and loosing a little speed in one of the marathon-type obstacles, Chardon finished just over one second behind Dobrovitz in third place.

Exciting Battle for Top Places
With the new scoring system, Boyd will start at zero this evening in the Final. Jozsef Dobrovitz will start with 7.9 seconds on the scoreboard and IJsbrand Chardon will start with 8.8 seconds. Exell will have an advantage this evening in the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final, but because the penalties for Jozsef Dobrovitz and Ijsbrand Chardon are so low anything can happen this evening. And even though Boyd is looking at a solid position, one knock down may endanger his chances of winning the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final for the fourth consecutive time.
Excitement is therefore guaranteed this evening!

Boyd Exell (AUS): “It was hard work in the course, there was no time to rest because the course was technical all the way. Bill’s acceleration was fantastic and so were my wheeler horses, they are really the key to my success. The first competition was only stage one out of three and anything can still happen. I will really have to concentrate tonight, but it is nice to be in a good position. We will have a very close competition!”

Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN): “I was not very pleased with the communication between my bay leader Spitfire and my grey leader Whiskey, so I decided to use this new horse Horus Alom. The horse had never seen a carriage before he came to my stables. He used to work at an old man’s farm. I tried him at an indoor competition last weekend and that went so super that I decided to go for it. I had a wonderful feeling during the course, my horses went very well. My goal for the World Cup competition this evening is to drive a clear round.”

IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “In Leipzig my horses went fantastic so I used the same set up, but they were too light in the course so I could not steer them properly. After the first obstacle I lost the pressure on the leader horses, which completely surprised me. It was too bad that I had this knock down, but this evening I will try to go very fast.”

Results warm up (first) competition FEI World Cup™ Driving Final Bordeaux 3 February 2012:
1.  Boyd Exell (AUS) 112.29
2.  Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) 128.16
3.  IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 129.24
4.  Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 130.83
5.  Koos de Ronde (NED) 133.93
6.  Zoltan Lazar (HUN) 142.01
7.  Thibault Coudry (FRA) 147.82

Timetable and FEI TV live broadcast:
Competition 1 (warm-up) – Friday, 3 February, 23.00 CET
Competition 2 (FEI World Cup™ Driving Final) – Saturday, 4 February, 23.15 CET. This competition will also be broadcast live on FEI TV, FEI’s official video platform.

Photo Caption: Boyd Exell is on his way to win the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final for the fourth consecutive time. ©Rinaldo de Craen/FEI