Dutch Driving Dynasty Continues Their Reign At Aachen

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Posted by


cover-Chardon-Aachen2021-phelpsphotos-9180 copy.jpg

With just two weeks from the long road from the European Championships in Budapest (August 30-September 5) , the top Four-In-Hand drivers in the  world converged at CHIO Aachen, for a week of competition, which include several driving classes in addition to the traditional CDE format. 

Photo: Isjbrand Chardon in front of Aachen's Wall of Winners, with his name a record 12 times.

Boyd Exell Dressage at Aachen
Boyd Exell Dressage at Aachen ©Mary Phelps

For the Father-Son team of Isjbrand and Bram Chardon, that meant taking 14 horses, multiple carriages, harness, and caravans to accommodate their team, both human and equine. In Budapest, Bram Chardon defended his European Gold Medal after a hard fought competition. His father Isbrand stood beside him on the podium in Silver medal position, and together with Koos De Ronde, the Dutch won Team Gold. 

Now it was face off time with Austalian Boyd Excell, who as an Australian cannot compete in the Europeans. Excell has won Aachen 9 times since 2003, and Isjbrand held the record at 12. With the winning dressage round, Excell was poised again for a challenge. 

Koos de Ronde Winning marathon at Aachen 2021 ©Mary Phelps
Koos de Ronde Winning marathon at
Aachen 2021 ©Mary Phelps

But in sport, especially driving sport, anything can happen, and the marathon course at Aachen proved it. Excell managed even with equipment issues to get through, but it was not his day. Bram Chardon who was having a smooth and fast marathon got stuck in obstacle 7 racking up too many points to make a shot at his first Aachen win viable. Marathon-man Koos De Ronde once again was the star on marathon day, with Isjbrand finishing third, to rising Belgian star Glen Geerts.

In the final phase, the cones, a world championship challenge for making time in a challenging course with no balls, there were a few double clear rounds, where the fastest time, was the determining factor for the winner of the class. In this class there was a second-round which was not part of the individual standings. 

The result of both rounds had Czech driver Jiri Nesvarcil Jr with his beautiful Lippizanners winning the class. But it was Koos de Ronde who won the cones for the CDE. The cumulative result again factored in the overall and team result. 

Isjbrand Chardon overall Gold Medal at Aachen 2021 ©Mary Phelps
Isjbrand Chardon overall Gold Medal at Aachen 2021
©Mary Phelps

Isjbrand Chardon with just one ball down in the cones, maintained the lead to win Aachen CHIO for the 12 time in his career. 

It was another Dutch Team victory with Belgium second and Germany finishing third. Top German driver, Mareika Harm was the leading German, and only woman driver (with an all-female crew) 

Only at Aachen does equestrian sport bring together all disciplines for not just the spectator, but the athletes who have the opportunity to experience. Dutch Dressage Young Horse Team selector and trainer Johann Rockx was able to slitp away from the dressage stadium in time to see Boyd Excell and his incredible Dutch Team execute another nearly flawless Dressage Test. " I was so impressed," commented Rockx. "Every one of those horses I saw could be a top-level dressage horse." 


Please note, images are copyrighted ©Mary Phelps 2021 and can not be used, reproduced or copied. For more information or images, contact