Aust driver Exell wins first World Cup leg

October 27, 2009

Australia's Boyd Exell was in a class of his own taking out the season's first FEI World Cup Driving leg in Hannover, Germany, at the weekend.

As the title defender Exell drove an impeccable fast round and stayed 10 seconds ahead of Koos de Ronde from the Netherlands and Tomas Eriksson from Sweden.

Boyd Exell won the FEI World Cup Driving competition in Hannover, Germany.
With four out of the six 2008/2009 World Cup finalists present, the drivers considered the first World Cup competition in Hannover as the leg with the strongest field of competitors. World Cup winner Boyd Exell, Dutch drivers Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde, Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary, Tomas Eriksson and wild card driver Rainer Duen performed two days at in the Messehalle in Hannover where they were cheered by many enthusiastic visitors to the German Classics horse show.

Exell had some bad luck on the first day when his spare horse Pascal was declared not fit to compete by the veterinarians. After his fourth place in the warm up competition, Exell did some fine-tuning on his horses and this resulted in two very fast rounds in the World Cup competition. Unlike his fellow competitors who all drove the same horses as last season, Exell used a new leader horse in his team in Hannover. Spitfire, a 16-year-old gelding who was formerly owned by the German four-in-hand-driver Max Dangel, moved to Exell's stables several weeks ago and the 2008 bronze medalist at the World Championships in Beesd is very pleased with this new horse.

Exell drove a clear and fast first round which none of his fellow competitors were able to beat. Koos de Ronde and Tomas Eriksson qualified for the winning round, while reigning World Champion IJsbrand Chardon had to miss this after he knocked a ball down. Chardon's team lost speed in the marathon obstacles, where they normally are the fastest. Chardon however took his fourth place as a good sportsman and is determined to make up for it in Stuttgart. The Lipizzaner horses of Jozsef Dobrovitz lacked speed and teamwork in Hannover, which made the organizer of the international competition in Vecses come fifth, ahead of home driver Rainer Duen who had received the wild card.

After Tomas Eriksson had knocked two balls down, Koos de Ronde knew he had to drive as fast as possible to put the pressure on Exell, who was only 5 seconds ahead of him. De Ronde drove his special indoor team very fast through the much-praised course, designed by the German World Championship course designer Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf and set a very fast time in a clear round. Exell felt the pressure, but went full throttle, drove a clear round and secured his victory for the first time in Hannover.

"On the first night I was ring rusty, but after I did some fine-tuning, the horses went much better the second day," Exell said. "Especially my new horse Spitfire did not know what to expect. I decided to trust him more and just let him go and he understood. I will keep driving this team the next shows, but I always have a good spare horse at home as well if necessary. The real heroes in my team are the wheeler horses; they are extremely fast and intelligent. I feel that this team cannot go much faster, but I will try to drive smoother and neater."


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