Australia’s Boyd Exell won the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup Driving series in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, staying far ahead of Tomas Eriksson (SWE) and home driver Werner Ulrich to secure his third victory of the season.
After five competitions the four-time FEI World Cup Driving champion is in second place on the series’ standings and is certain of a starting place in the FEI World Cup Driving Final in Bordeaux (FRA) next February.
German international course designer Falk Böhnisch had laid out a fast and technical course in the beautiful arena in Geneva, the biggest one on the FEI World Cup Driving circuit. The water splash added a wonderful dimension to the course, which was appreciated by both the competitors and the enthusiastic Swiss spectators who had come in large numbers to the Palexpo arena.
Exell faced different opponents in Geneva compared to those in Budapest the previous weekend, only Theo Timmerman (NED) having made the trips to both the Hungarian capital and the Swiss city.
In the first round Eriksson scored the fastest time and put Exell under pressure. The Australian stopped watching Eriksson after he had taken the first gate of the first marathon obstacle and knew his opponent was in for a good round. Exell went back to his carriage to concentrate on his own performance and was a little nervous as he entered the arena. He drove a clear round finishing four seconds ahead of Eriksson.
The Swedish double world champion had a flying start in the Winning Round, but misjudged his speed in the first obstacle and almost took the wrong gate. Luckily, he was able to move his team backwards which helped him to avoid adding 20 penalty seconds to his score. Eriksson lost precious time and also had five penalties for one knockdown, which took the pressure off last starter Boyd Exell who took no risks and drove another clear round, securing his fifth win in Geneva. With one more competition to go, Eriksson is in third place on the standings and can start booking his trip to Bordeaux.
Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich was very proud to have his 15-year-old son Stefan navigating for him in the carriage in Geneva. Stefan is a driver himself and his horse De Caprio von Buchmatt was in the lead of Ulrich’s team just like in Stockholm last weekend. Ulrich qualified for the Winning Round which he decided to approach as an additional training opportunity since he was already 30 seconds behind Eriksson and Exell. The multiple Swiss champion focused on the speed and scored a clear round which put him in third place. After two events, Ulrich is fourth on the standings and looks well positioned for a starting place in the final.
Despite many knockdowns, wild card driver Thibault Coudry (FRA) drove his team of outdoor horses to the fourth place finishing ahead of Fredrik Persson (SWE). Boyd Exell had kindly lent his 10-year old horse Clinton to Persson, who used him in the lead of his team. Persson felt he had to change something after his disappointing performance in Stockholm last weekend. Unfortunately, Clinton was not enough to bring the magic on to the Swede’s team and Persson had to settle for fifth place.
Theo Timmerman (NED) started off very well, but lost his chances for a high placing when he came too fast in the first marathon obstacle and entered the wrong gate. He was unable to exit the gate and was forced to drive it backwards, which cost him 20 penalty seconds. Timmerman must now finished first or second at his last competition at Olympia in London in order to secure a starting ticket for the final.
It was the last time that International Course Designer Falk Böhnisch had designed the course in Geneva. The 68-year-old Böhnisch, whose course have always attracted great praise from the competitors, will retire as an FEI Course Designer because of health issues. “Falk has done a fantastic job for the sport. He was always open for discussion and had many new ideas,” Boyd Exell said.
At the press conference in Geneva it was announced that Verona (ITA), which already hosts a Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping qualifier, will be part of the FEI World Cup Driving 2013/14 season. All drivers warmly welcomed the news and are looking forward to competing there.
Results CAI-W Geneva 2012:
1. Boyd Exell (AUS) 253,77
2. Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 288,71
3. Werner Ulrich (SUI) 303,45
4. Thibault Coudry (FRA) 187,96
5. Fredrik Persson (SWE) 192,05
6. Theo Timmerman (NED) 193,11
Standings after 5 of 8 events:
1 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 27
2 Boyd EXELL AUS 25
3 Tomas ERIKSSON SWE 19
4 Werner ULRICH SUI 15
5 Georg VON STEIN GER 12
6 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 11
7 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 9
8 Koos DE RONDE NED 6
8 Christoph SANDMANN GER 6
10 Fredrik PERSSON SWE 5