Exell wins yet another World Cup driving round

November 22, 2009

Australia's Boyd Exell is the new German Master in Stuttgart. The British-based four-in-hand driver was simply the best at the second competition of the 2009/2010 FEI World Cup Driving season in the Schlelyer Halle. Dutch drivers Koos de Ronde and IJsbrand Chardon tried their best but were unable to prevent Exell from having an impressive win.

"The key to my success really is that I have experienced and careful horses," Exell said.

"With the new experienced horse Spitfire, which I bought from German four-in-hand driver Max Dangel and Bill, the former horse of Christoph Sandmann and Michael Freund, I have a perfect set of leader horses. My wheelers however are the real heroes of my team, they are even more careful and powerful."

Boyd Exell, winner of the FEI World Cup Driving competition in Stuttgart, Germany, at the weekend. © Dirk Caremans
After two amazing victories in Hannover and Stuttgart, title defender Boyd Exell seems virtually untouchable. Dutch national champion of 2008 Koos de Ronde is the only driver who has a chance to get close to Exell. Both drivers are taking the current level of the FEI World Cup Driving up and are opening the gap between them and their fellow competitors. In Stuttgart, Exell and De Ronde were by far the drivers with the steadiest horses, which allowed them to drive full speed throughout the course. Their teams go fluently through the course and while watching their performance you only realize their speed when they pass the finish line in an amazing time.

The atmosphere in the Schleyer Halle was fantastic with the many enthusiastic spectators cheering the competitors while they were supported by very good music in a theme that fitted their turnout.

German course designer Falk Bohnisch, who was responsible for the driving courses in Stuttgart for the 17th time, had designed something special for the 25th anniversary of the Stuttgart German Masters. The 65-year-old driving specialist in heart and soul designed one of the marathon obstacles in the shape of an arrow, which allowed the competitors to drive even faster. The second marathon obstacle had a more technical design and demanded the drivers to slow down and to drive more precisely.

"My horses need to be worked well before I start the competition, the more tired they are, the better they go," said Exell. "And when I don't push them and just let them run, they open their strides out and go even faster. I also owe this victory to my groom Michelle, who saved my bacon when I wanted to go the wrong way in the course. We form a very good team."

Michael Freund, multiple winner of the Stuttgart German Masters, coached one of the former students of his 'Perspektivgruppe' Michael Brauchle, who started with a wild card. The 19-year-old amateur, who is in the third year of his metalworker education, recently passed his truck driver's license. Brauchle was pleased to compete in Stuttgart but did not have time to train his horses properly because he has given his education his highest priority at the moment. Brauchle was sixth, behind Theo Timmerman from the Netherlands in fifth place and 2008 German Master Jozsef Dobrovitz in fourth position.

The FEI World Cup Driving in Stuttgart was not the only driving show in the Schleyer Halle. Between the show jumping and dressage classes, the spectators were treated to a spectacular show of four six-in-hands of grey horses. World Cup drivers Daniel Wurgler from Switzerland, Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary and Mark Osztertag, Dobrovitz's cousin who is an international pair driver, and Wurgler's compatriot Martin Wagner, performed with a mix of grey Kladruber, Lipizzaner, Lusitano, Polish and Andalusian horses.

Spectacular fireworks on the carriages formed a beautiful Grande Finale of this wonderful show. Jozsef Dobrovitz brought no less than 16 horses to Stuttgart for this occasion (12 for the two six-in-hands for himself and Osztertag and 4 for the World Cup competitions).