Bram Chardon Dethrones Previously Unbeaten King of Geneva
Monday, December 13, 2021
The World Cup for four-in-hand drivers has experienced a veritable coup: After Boyd Exell had won the last 12 editions of the Geneva stage, he had to admit defeat to the young Dutchman Bram Chardon.
It is a picture that will never be forgotten: The teams of Boyd Exell and Bram Chardon riding side by side at an easy canter while the Australian explains to the Dutchman how to do the lap of honour, raising his voice to be heard over the cheers of the crowd. The moment is so extraordinary because Boyd Exell had reigned as the undisputed series winner for the last 12 editions of the FEI Driving World Cup™ stage in Geneva. It took the full effort and precision of Bram Chardon to dethrone the Australian, who was considered unbeatable until today.
Three riders had qualified for the "Drive Off" of the Geneva leg of the four-in-hand circuit. The first to start was local hero Jérôme Voutaz, who had changed the composition of his team during the summer season, and who showed a beautiful round with his four Freibergers. "I felt a little tiredness of the horses when they came out of the water, so I decided to play it safe at the end of my jump-off", said the rider from Valais, who was delighted with his third place. After Boyd Exell's ride, it looked like it was a done deal: He had beaten his time from the first round by another five seconds. But he had not reckoned with Bram Chardon, who put in a spectacular lap and took another five seconds off the Australian, bringing the spectators in the packed grandstands to a standing ovation to acknowledge this magnificent performance.
"I knew I could not feel safe as Boyd is very fast. I tried everything from the start and luckily I didn't make a mistake." With Dreef Inca, Dreef Kapitany, Favory Farao and Kendi – the only mare in the quartet – 28-year-old Bram Chardon picked up an important win in his young career, especially as he has only been on the World Cup circuit since 2017. As good loser and sportsman, the experienced Boyd Exell paid respect to his rival, but also noted at the same time that his team today has little experience because he is saving his most experienced horses for the final in Leipzig. "The course in Geneva is a 'full package', smiled Bram Chardon at the press conference. The hill, the lake, the size of the arena, the audience – everything contributes to making this tournament an unmissable highlight."