Boyd Exell put up an extraordinary performance again to win his fourth consecutive FEI World Cup Driving competition of this season at Olympia at the weekend.
The Australian driver had already won at Stuttgart, Stockholm and last week in Geneva, where he competed with three borrowed horses to spare his own team for his wild-card start in London. The Australian’s biggest opponent IJsbrand Chardon (NED) finished second, while Sweden’s Fredrik Persson drove steadily for third.
It was the first time this season that the three favourites – Boyd Exell and Dutchmen IJsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde – had competed against each other. Dutch level 4 course designer Johan Jacobs had laid out a course with fast and technical elements, which remained exciting until the last moment. All drivers were happy with the event in Olympia, for which the tickets were sold out five weeks in advance. The stands were full with enthusiastic fans, who supported the drivers throughout the whole competition.
Exell drove his regular team of horses at Olympia and admitted he could have been a bit more accurate in the first round, where one of his leader horses knocked a ball off one of the cones. But his speed in the second round, which ran over the same course, was unbelievable and Exell flew round the arena, leaving all elements in place, to secure his fourth win of this season.
“This indoor team is going to become like my old and famous indoor team with Bill,” Exell said. “They’ve got the top-line speed that Bill brought to my team. I’ve just got to have a bit more accuracy and a bit more reliability. The second round I could drive safe and fast whilst in the first round I fumbled a few loops. I didn’t give them their best ride, but they got me out of trouble. The second round I gave them a good ride and they operated.”
IJsbrand Chardon, last to go in the Winning Round, had driven a new leader horse in the two previous classes in Olympia, but decided to take no risks and put his experienced leader horse in for the FEI World Cup competition. The four-time individual World Champion gave everything he had and drove a clear round, but was unable to beat Exell’s time to slot into second place. As Exell was competing with a wild card and was therefore not entitled to points, the 10 points went to Chardon, moving him up to second in the standings behind Exell. Both top drivers have already secured their ticket for the Final in Bordeaux.
“I could not go any faster with this team in order to stay clear,” Chardon said. “Today’s competition was very important for me, I needed the World Cup points so that is why I decided to use my experienced leader horse again. At the moment it is very difficult to win from Boyd. I gave everything I had and I am now in the Final so I can test my new leader horse at my last competition in Leipzig.”
While Exell, Chardon and de Ronde fought it out, it was Fredrik Persson who used tactics and a steady pace to claim third place in the Winning Round. Persson drove his team of veteran horses – the youngest is 17 – clear and at good speed through the course. In the Winning Round the driving teacher from Sweden’s National Stud, Flyinge, took a bit too much risk and knocked three balls down in the last phase of the competition, but he was still happy with his performance.
Koos de Ronde competed with the same team of horses that he steered to victory in the FEI World Cup Driving competition in Budapest (HUN). The team gold medallist from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy (FRA) put down the second fastest time in the first round, but three knockdowns prevented him from getting into the Winning Round. De Ronde is aware that his new team still needs some time for fine-tuning.
Young driver Glenn Geerts (BEL) started off in flying form by winning the first class, which did not count for the FEI World Cup. But he was unable to get his special indoor team of Lipizzaner horses into the right speed in the qualifier to finish fifth ahead of bronze individual medallist in Caen, Theo Timmerman (NED). Timmerman, who will move to a new yard in Varsseveld in the Netherlands next month, swapped his leader horses around, but didn’t have the necessary speed in the marathon type obstacles and came sixth.
Daniel Naprous (GBR) earned the second wild card by winning the British indoor qualifiers at Merrist Wood, Bury Farm and the British Masters at Addington Manor. The 37-year-old stuntman previously had a wild card at Olympia in 2012. Boyd Exell kindly lend Naprous a bay leader horse for his indoor team at Olympia, which was made up of two of his film horses and an older outdoor horse. Naprous really enjoyed competing in Olympia and was pleased despite the fact that he had no front brakes on his carriage during his round. This resulted in four knockdowns and a seventh-place finish.
- Boyd Exell (AUS) 240.44
- IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 244.11
- Fredrik Persson (SWE) 266.59
- Koos de Ronde (NED) 136.63
- Glenn Geerts (BEL) 139.78
- Theo Timmerman (NED) 140.12
- Daniel Naprous (GBR) 154.35
FEI World Cup Driving, standings after 5 of 7 events:
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 30
2 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 24
3 Koos DE RONDE NED 15
4 Christoph SANDMANN GER 14
Fredrik PERSSON SWE 14
6 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 13
7 Glenn GEERTS BEL 10
8 Georg VON STEIN GER 6
9 Werner ULRICH SUI 5
10 Theo TIMMERMAN NED 4