Chardon's carriage vandalised before event

October 10, 2010

by Lulu Kyriacou

Today's driving marathon section of the World Equestrian Games was marred when the carriage of current World Champion IJsbrand Chardon was found sabotaged shortly before his team began their preparations for the endurance phase.


Title defender IJsbrand Chardon fought his way back in the marathon. © FEI/Rinaldo de Craen

Chardon was on the course watching other Dutch competitors when his son Bram removed the cover from the carriage and found the damage.

Despite being in the secure compound both groom's seats at the back were slashed and an oily substance thought to be brake fluid was found on the seat surfaces. Chardon was called by his son and returned to the vehicle to inspect the damage. The Ground Jury was notified and the Kentucky State Police called to investigate.

At first, according to Maarten Van der Heiden (Secretary General of Dutch Equestrian Federation), the Ground Jury was unsympathetic to pleas from the driver and his team that he could not possibly start as scheduled at 13.20 as this would not give them time to investigate the damage and repair the carriage if possible. Luckily, a second official, together with the agreement of all the other teams competing, made the Ground Jury see reason and Chardon was allowed to start an hour later at the end of the class.

Lt David Jude of the Kentucky State Police explained that he was 100% happy with the security arrangements for WEG which had taken two years of planning but a breach of security was always possible in any situation.

He also explained that there was a full police security contingent that could cope with any emergency arising in minutes and a full investigation was under way and the police have increased their night security patrols.

Chardon was careful to state that he did not believe any malice towards him personally was involved and that all the drivers were close and they had given him enormous support, as had the spectators. When he eventually started it only took him one or two obstacles before he found his true rhythm.

His wife, Paulien, had been very concerned that the person who did the damage with a blade of some sort could easily have injured a horse instead, but Chardon himself thought it was more likely the culprit was just some foolish person not really thinking about what they were doing.

"We were panicking before we got the start delayed," said Maarten Van der Heiden.

"It is not good to have trouble like this before a marathon round in a championship event. IJsbrand is a brilliant driver, but after repairs the condition of the carriage was not optimal. It is not really feasible to borrow another, because each one handles differently, although we are confident that Boyd Exell would have lent us his if asked, as he uses the same carriage maker."

Despite all the drama, Chardon drove the fastest round of the day to close the gap on dressage leader Exell to just two penalties.