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Freund scores twice at Vigo
14 February 2004

Michael Freund has turned out to be invincible during the two FEI World Cup Driving events in Vigo, Spain. After Bordeaux dropped out of the World Cup Driving circuit, Vigo offered to host two rounds of the competition on consecutive days, instead of just one.

Freund won the warm up competition and both World Cup competitions. The challenge however, came from an unexpected corner this time. In the warm up competition and the second World Cup round, it was Mechelen-winner Gert Schrijvers who came very close to Freund?s time.

In the first World Cup round at Vigo, Hungarian driver Jozsef Dobrovitz had only one fault and even though he could not compete with Freund?s time, the Hungarian driver ended in a deserved second place.

British-based Australian driver Boyd Exell, driving a team of German warmbloods and Orlov trotters borrowed for the competition from Michael Freund, finished third in all three rounds, consistently having three faults and nearly finishing in the same time in all rounds.

Although Freund is the uncrowned king of indoor driving, he has to keep watching over his shoulder. During the first season he was beaten once by IJsbrand Chardon, in the second season Sandmann finished ahead of him in G?eborg. Gert Schrijvers set a very fast time (136.90) in the second World Cup competition and put the pressure on Freund even more. It nearly looked as if Schrijvers was going to go home with the first prize when Freund lost valuable seconds as his team nearly hit the boarding and had to come to a full stop. But the double World Cup champion saved himself and passed the finish line 2.55 seconds faster than Schrijvers: "I am very happy that I won in Vigo in front of such an enthusiastic crowd. I am glad that I had to fight for my first place and that there was such little difference in the result."

Schrijvers made up for his fifth place in the first World Cup competition and was very pleased with his second place: "It is not a shame to come second behind Freund, but I regret that my season is over already. My horses went just as well as in Mechelen. Yesterday they were too strong while today they felt perfect again." Schrijvers is currently second in the standings and will most probably end in the top four after the last competition in G?eborg.

The Hungarian drivers Jozsef Dobrovitz and Jozsef Bozsik travelled some 4000 kilometres to Vigo to compete in their second and third World Cup events. Dobrovitz, a 35-year old professional driver from Vecses, drove his team of Nonius and Lipizzaner horses smoothly through the course and peaked in the first World Cup, where he came second behind Freund: "I never expected to achieve this result. I did compete in an indoor competition in Hungary after Stuttgart to get more indoor experience, but I didn?t expect this, especially not after the warm up competition. I drove with Boszik?s carriage because my carriage was broken. I could not really go for it, but that was different in the second competition when I used my own carriage again." The team of Dobrovitz's fellow countryman Jozsef Bozsik needs some more indoor experience, but with one more competition to go, Bozsik can still climb in the standings.

Wild card driver Juan Robles got better as the competitions went. The first day he was struck by bad luck when one of his grooms had to dismount twice because of a problem with his leader reins. Robles however, drove the course, designed by German course designer Falk B?nish, smoothly at all times and even came fifth in the second World Cup competition.

The next leg of the FEI World Cup Driving will take place in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, on 28 March 2004.

Results CAI-W Vigo 1 (13/02/04):

1. Michael Freund (Ger) 135.66
2. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 153.97
3. Boyd Exell (Aus) 158.37
4. Jozsef Bozsik (Hun) 173.09
5. Gert Schrijvers (Bel) 175.83
6. Juan Robles (Esp) 200.61

Results CAI-W Vigo 2 (14/02/04):

1. Michael Freund (Ger) 134.35
2. Gert Schrijvers (Bel) 136.90
3. Boyd Exell (Aus) 159.18
4. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 164.13
5. Juan Robles (Esp 171.61
6. Jozsef Bozsik (Hun) 186.18

CLICK HERE for the full results and points standing in the 2003-4 World Cup series.

World Cup Driving official website: www.worldcupdriving.com

Created in 2001, the Driving World Cup has provided an innovative new style of competition for indoor events, with courses combining marathon and cone driving obstacles. The 2003/2004 season of the World Cup includes seven events with eight competitions: Stuttgart (GER), Stockholm (SWE), Mechelen (BEL) in 2003; Leipzig (GER), two competitions in Vigo (ESP), 's-Hertogenbosch (NED) and G?eborg (SWE) in 2004. The winner of the first two seasons of the World Cup was Michael Freund.(GER).

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