Defending champion Boyd Exell was in a class of his own in the opening competition of the 15th season of the FEI World Cup Driving series in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday. The Australian driver put down two faultless clear rounds and won easily ahead of IJsbrand Chardon (NED) and Rainer Duen (GER). This was Exell’s fifth career victory in the Stuttgart leg of the series.
The Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart was filled with enthusiastic and knowledgeable spectators who enjoyed the top performances of the six Four-In-Hand drivers in the fast, at some points technical and horse-friendly course designed by Germany’s Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf.
Exell, who was recently presented with the prestigious ‘Reem Acra Best Athlete’ title during the FEI General Assembly in Puerto Rico, used a new leader horse in his experienced team. “This is the first time I used the 15-year-old bay Lipizzaner Whiskey at a World Cup competition. I tested him two weeks ago at an indoor competition in the Netherlands,” he said.
“Clinton and Lucky were my wheeler horses. I haven’t used Lucky for two years, he was part of my team when I won my first World Cup title in Gothenburg in 2009. I have a new wheeler horse at home, but I thought it was better not to use two new horses at the same competition. I had a new navigator here today, and I felt secure with my experienced back stepper Hugh, who allowed me to go at top speed!” he added.
Exell was one size too big for his opponents in Stuttgart. IJsbrand Chardon drove his team of Lipizzaner horses and one Dutch warmblood horse, with whom he has competed last season as well. The four-times World Champion had one knock-down in the first round but was fast enough to qualify for the Winning Round, which took place over a shortened course.
After knocking one ball in the first marathon obstacle, Chardon put the throttle down even further but made another mistake which cost him precious seconds. The second knock-down gave last starter Exell even more of an advantage, with Chardon finishing in second place, ahead of Rainer Duen.
Georg von Stein finished fourth, ahead of reigning European Champion Michael Brauchle, who had received a wild card from the Stuttgart Organising Committee.
Results FEI World Cup Driving, Stuttgart (GER):
- Boyd Exell (AUS) 248,30 (0)
- IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 280,38 (15)
- Rainer Duen (GER) 286,17 (10)
- Georg von Stein (GER) 146,03 (5)
- Michael Brauchle (GER) 149,96 (15)
- József Dobrovitz (HUN) 174,03 (15)