Australian win in World Cup driving final

February 24, 2009

Australia's Boyd Exell beat Dutch competitors IJsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde in a thrilling FEI World Cup Driving Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, to be crowned Champion for the first time in his career.

"I am surprised and delighted at the same time about my win," Exell said."Before the final, I was hoping for a top two-three placing. The hardest thing is to win when people expect it; I think I have proven now that I am able to perform under pressure."

Australia's Boyd Exell celebrates his win in the FEI World Cup Driving Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The three top drivers qualified for the winning round after breathtakingly fast first rounds. Koos de Ronde made a mistake in the first marathon obstacle and came third. Exell was second to go and did everything to put the pressure on last starter Chardon. One knock down put Chardon six seconds ahead of Exell.

"My tactics were to go full speed in the second round," Exell said. "I knocked a cone down because we applied the turntable break whilst we were still in the corner, but I didn't lose any speed.

Chardon was pleased with his first round, but knew Exell was breathing down his neck. "After my first knockdown I knew I had to drive even faster. I had to take risks and that cost me another ball to fall. It was nearly impossible to beat Exell's time, but I am happy that I tried it anyway. I came here to win, but Boyd was simply better," the Dutch driver said.

The excitement in the Scandinavium arena grew every second after the four-time World Champion knocked one ball down. When he hit the second ball, it was clear that Chardon was unable to keep his leading position. Chardon came second, 10 seconds behind Exell.

"I trained lots of figures of eight the last two weeks. This made my horses go much faster. They have been working hard for me in the past years and I am happy with the feeling I have with them now," Exell said.

Title defender Christoph Sandmann drove a steady round with his newly composed team after the loss of Rambo in Leipzig and came fourth. Home driver Fredrik Persson has been driving his team of mixed warmbloods since last October and felt they have improved with every show. The 35-year-old from Flyinge was extremely happy to compete in the final, in which he came fifth. One of the candidates for the World Cup title, Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary, did not know what went wrong as he felt that both his horses and himself were in good shape. The organizer of the nation's competition in Vecses knocked three balls down and ended on the sixth place.

All competitors except Dobrovitz praised the course, designed by the Swedish course designer Dan Henriksson. Jozsef Dobrovitz felt that the course lacked difficulty; he had expected a more technical course for the Final. His fellow competitors felt that the course, which included long and speedy lines, was the best course of the season. The beautiful flower decorations and the easy to follow obstacles were a joy to watch for the spectators.