The fully packed driving stadium in Aachen hosted the second phase of the FEI European Driving Championships for Four-in-Hand on Friday afternoon.
Tensions rose in tandem with the temperatures during the exciting cones phase, with double world champion Felix Marie Brasseur from Belgium first of the 36 competitors to drive a double clear round, much to the pleasure of the enthusiastic spectators and Brasseur’s team members.
The next driver into the arena, Hungary’s József Dobrovitz, equalled this amazing performance, passing the finish line penalty free and placing second behind the slightly faster Brasseur. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) finished third with just 0.42 time penalties.
German level 4 Course Designer Dr Wolfgang Asendorf had laid out a selective course for the drivers. In the end, eight drivers drove the course within the time allowed and only Brasseur and Dobrovitz managed a clear round.
“I am very pleased,” said Asendorf. “One part of the course was still a bit too tight in my opinion, but if I had changed that we would have had to change the time allowed as well. The time allowed was doable, but Felix really showed how to drive a double clear.”
József Dobrovitz proved to be a true horseman, driving his team of KWPN and Lipizzaner horses together for the first time as a four-in-hand. “For the leader horses it is actually their first competition in the four-in-hand. They have been driven in a pair before, but never in a team. I have practiced a lot with these horses at home and this has paid off today,” he said.
“At obstacle eight I thought I had a ball down. Luckily this was not the case, and after that I became ever more eager and concentrated. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s marathon. I will try to win around three seconds in each obstacle. I will really go for it.”
Dobrovitz is now second in the overall standings, nine penalty points behind IJsbrand Chardon, who has a comfortable lead.
The top four in the team results remained unchanged, but thanks to the strong performances of IJsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde, defending champions The Netherlands are more than 20 penalty points ahead of second-placed Hungary.
Belgium is still third, but Germany is less than one point behind a podium place. Both Michael Brauchle and Georg von Stein performed extremely well in the cones, and with three excellent marathon drivers in the team Germany will for sure ‘attack’ in this final phase of the European Championships.
Driving individual results – Cones phase:
- Felix Marie Brasseur (BEL) 0
- József Dobrovitz (HUN) 0
- IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 0,42
- Michael Brauchle (GER) 3,00
- Koos de Ronde (NED) 3,07
Driving individual standings – after Dressage and Cones:
- IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 38,23
- József Dobrovitz (HUN) 47,90
- Koos de Ronde (NED) 48,20
- Felix Marie Brasseur (BEL) 48,79
- Juan Antonio Real Garcia (ESP) 50,07
Driving team standings – after Dressage and Cones:
- The Netherlands 81,18
- Hungary 102,45
- Belgium 106,69
- Germany 107,57
- Switzerland 127,27