Australian Boyd Exell won the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup Driving in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday. It was his fourth win at the venue in four starts.
Boyd Exell won the fifth FEI World Cup Driving qualifier in Geneva yesterday. © Rinaldo de Craen/FEI
Dutch drivers Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman finished in second and third place.
Falk Bohnisch of Germany had designed a difficult course for the seven drivers competing in Europe's largest indoor arena, known for its unique features such as the water and the small slope, which make it resemble an outdoor marathon course. Small adjustments were made to the course by Bohnisch and President Ground Jury Hans Peter Ruschlin to make it smoother for the horses.
Timmerman (NED) used his first competition in Stuttgart (Germany) several weeks ago to fine-tune his team of horses and his efforts paid off in Geneva. Timmerman was pleased to qualify for the winning round for the first time in his career. However, the 2010 world and 2011 European team champion was too fast over the bridge and his leaders took the wrong gate going into the marathon type obstacle. He was able to correct this mistake but knew that his chances for a top placing were gone.
Timmerman is currently in sixth place of the FEI World Cup Driving standings and has one more competition to go.
Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman finished within a second of each other after the first round. After Timmerman had made the mistake in the winning round, which took place over a shortened course, de Ronde decided against driving a safe round and attacked Exell's time. Unfortunately he and his team consisting of coloured geldings and the new grey leader horse Night were out of luck, knocking one ball down. Koos de Ronde was nevertheless pleased with his second place as he is already certain of a place in the Final.
After his win in Budapest last weekend where he first drove his wheeler horse Clinton Star in the lead, Exell decided to stick to the same team of horses for Geneva. The triple FEI World Cup Driving champion put on an excellent performance and claimed victory despite one knockdown. Exell is lucky to drive fantastic wheeler horses who do not follow too quickly when his leader horses turn too soon, which is crucial for indoor competitions. Exell now takes over the lead in the standings from IJsbrand Chardon (NED) and is, like Chardon and De Ronde, certain of a starting place in the Final which will be held in Bordeaux (FRA) from 3 to 5 February 2012.
Both Zoltan Lazar (HUN) and Werner Ulrich (SUI) decided to make some changes to their four-in-hand after their somewhat disappointing results in Budapest last week. Lazar used two different wheeler horses, one of whom had been on his gold medal winning team at the FEI World Championships in Kecskemet (Hungary) in 2004. Lazar's left wheeler horse is an experienced leader horse and was for the first time in the right wheel position.
Lazar is currently fifth on the standings and has one more competition to go. Werner Ulrich knew he had nothing to lose in Geneva and decided to replace his mare with the eight-year-old bay gelding Rocco next to his fast grey Lipizzaner gelding. Although his team went much faster, Ulrich was just a second behind wildcard driver Thibault Coudry (FRA). Ulrich has completed his indoor season and is seventh on the the standings, which means that he does not qualify for the Final in Bordeaux.
Thibault Coudry from France and home driver Daniel Wurgler had received a wildcard to compete in Geneva. Coudry drove his outdoor team of horses fast through the course, but three knockdowns prevented him from a placing in the top three. Daniel Wurgler clearly missed the indoor routine and finished seventh in front of his home crowd.