Dutch driver IJsbrand Chardon
won the first FEI World Cup Driving competition of the season held in Hannover, Germany, at the weekend, with his compatriot Koos de Ronde
IJsbrand Chardon, winner of the first FEI Word Cup Driving 2011/2012 qualifier in Hannover, Germany, at the weekend. © Rinaldo de Craen/FEI
Sweden's Tomas Eriksson
, who ended in third place, had some bad luck in the winning round. The second starter, Eriksson was well on his way to putting Chardon under serious pressure with his team of Swedish warmbloods. But in the corner just before the last gate, Eriksson's left leader horse slipped and fell. His right leader horse and his left wheeler horse also fell, forcing Eriksson to stop. With the very fast help from his fellow competitors and his grooms, Eriksson's horses got back up and were led out of the arena without major injuries.
IJsbrand Chardon said his son, Bram, was watching Eriksson's round, "and told me he went very fast. I was preparing myself for a very fast round because I really wanted to win. When I heard of the incident with Tomas, I changed my mind and decided to go fast, but safe. I enjoy winning, but I would have enjoyed it more if Tomas could have completed his round without the incident."
The four-time world champion drove a fast but safe round and secured his first victory of the season despite one knock-down. Chardon is competing with his team of Lipizzaner horses for the third season and feels they are getting better at every competition.
Koos de Ronde used one of his outdoor horses on his indoor team. He normally competes with three coloured geldings from his father's four-in-hand team, but due to an injury, he had to make a change. After an average performance in the warm-up competition on Saturday night, Koos knew what improvements were needed and drove his four-in-hands at his usual high speed through the course, designed by Germany's Dr Wolfgang Asendorf.
Triple FEI World Cup Driving champion Boyd Exell (AUS) finished in fourth place. Exell tested a new leader horse in the warm-up competition but drove his experienced team in the World Cup class. He made a mistake in the second marathon obstacle and lost contact with his leader horses. This caused a domino effect which lead to additional mistakes. Exell still set a very fast time but since he was competing as a wild card in Hannover, he could not win FEI World Cup Driving points.
Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) also had a contact problem with his leader horses, which resulted in three knockdowns. Dobrovitz finished fifth ahead of Rainer Duen (GER). Duen, who had competed in the 2002/2003 and 2003/2004 World Cup seasons, admitted his outdoor team of horses lacked indoor routine.
In comparison to previous FEI World Cup Driving competitions in Hannover, Asendorf had designed a less speedy and more technical course for the warn-up competition which, in the end, was less spectacular to watch. Asendorf decided to make some changes for the World Cup competition, which was much appreciated by both the competitors and the audience. The course was faster but still remained very technical.