Chardon back on track in Leipzig
18 January 2009

IJsbrand Chardon is back on track after his disappointing performance in the FEI World Cup? Driving competition in Mechelen three weeks ago. The four times World Champion took revenge today in Leipzig by winning the last FEI World Cup? Driving competition before the Final. Switzerland?s Daniel W?gler was super happy with his team, which took him to the second place. Fredrik Persson came third in the DHL Trophy and has earned a starting ticket for the Final in his home country Sweden.

The enthusiastic spectators in the Leipziger Messe witnessed a spectacular competition. Chardon nearly missed the bridge in the first round but was able to redirect his team just in time. This cost him at least five seconds and he had to put everything at stake in the second round to make up for it. Daniel W?gler was the last starter in the winning round, but could not handle the pressure. He missed a gate in one of the marathon obstacles and came three seconds short to win the competition. Fredrik Persson knew he had nothing to loose and went for it with his mixed team of Swedish warmblood horses and trotters. The carriage-driving teacher knocked one ball down, but was nevertheless very pleased with his third place.

Persson?s compatriot Tomas Eriksson has not been very lucky this World Cup season and missed his chance to qualify for the winning round after he missed the bridge. Eriksson came fourth and it will be the first time in the history of the FEI World Cup? Driving that the double World Champion will not start in the Final.

Mechelen-winner Koos de Ronde left Leipzig with mixed feelings. After his leader horse Gerrit did not pass the vet check on Friday, De Ronde was forced to use a third piebald horse of his father?s team. But De Ronde showed true horsemanship and drove the team without hesitation to victory in the warm up competition. In today?s FEI World Cup? Driving competition, De Ronde noticed the lack of experience of his newly composed team. The reigning Dutch Champion knocked two balls down and had to be content with the fifth place. Because of his win in Mechelen and his previous high placings in Hannover and Budapest, De Ronde can drop his score of Leipzig and his starting place for the Final was not endangered.

Germany?s Christoph Sandmann had good memories of Leipzig, where he won the FEI World Cup? Driving Final last year with a wild card. This year, his good memories were disturbed by a great loss. Sandmann?s left wheeler horse Rambo died unexpectedly after the warming up round on Friday. The 15-year-old German bred gelding became unwell when the team was walked around in harness to cool down. Rambo died shortly afterwards in the hands of his groom and in presence of Sandmann and the veterinarian. The incident happened during the competition so the spectators and the other competitors did not notice what happened. Rambo came to Sandmann?s stables when he was four years old and played a key role in Christoph?s team and contributed to the many successes of the German four-in-hand driver. Despite this terrible incident, Sandmann, who was invited to Leipzig with a wild card, competed in the FEI World Cup? Driving with his spare horse.

The very enthusiastic spectators like all other competitors cheered second wild card driver Steffen Scholz from the Sachsen area. Partner Pferd this year attracted a record number of 58.300 spectators and the Organising Committee even had to put up big screens in the third hall so that all visitors could follow the competitions as the stands were sold out. The FEI World Cup? Driving competition in Leipzig is extremely popular. The tickets for the Sunday afternoon programme, which includes the Driving, were sold out at first.

The Final takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 21 and 22 February. The Top Six drivers of the standings after Leipzig who qualified are:

1. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun)
2. IJsbrand Chardon (Ned)
3. Boyd Exell (Aus)
4. Koos de Ronde (Ned)
5. Christoph Sandmann (Ger)
6. Fredrik Persson (Swe)

In the Final, the drivers will start from scratch. No wild card is allocated since a home driver (Fredrik Persson) is qualified for the Final.

Quotes

IJsbrand Chardon (Ned): ?I am very happy with my win here in Leipzig. I had a very good feeling about my team after my win in Hannover and my second place in Stuttgart. Mechelen was not so good for me, but today the good feeling was back again. This is true indoor driving sport, the level is so high and all competitors drive so well. The differences are very small and it is nice to win when you know your competitors are so close. I don?t think it can get any better than here in Leipzig.?

Daniel W?gler (Sui): ? I am extremely pleased with my second place in Leipzig, even though I just missed one point to qualify for the Final. I put these horses together in the team for the first time three weeks before Budapest. It was like a lottery, I had no idea what the outcome would be. But after their first performance in Budapest, they got better every show. For me it would have been better if the season would start at this very moment! I lost my chances to victory here in Leipzig when I mised a gate in obstacle 2, but I am already looking forward to next winter season with this team.?

Fredrik Persson (Swe): ?I am happy with my ?Last Minute qualification? for the Final in G?eborg. It is very special to be able to perform in front of my home crowd in the FEI World Cup? Driving Final. Today I knew I had nothing to loose in the winning round and I went for it. I am pleased the way it went for me.?

Results CAI-W Leipzig (GER):

1. IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 224,29
2. Daniel W?gler (Sui) 227,71
3. Fredrik Persson (Swe) 238,42
4. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 124,02
5. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 124,37
6. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) wild card 125,58
7. Steffen Scholz (Ger) wild card 126,72

Classification after 7 of 7 events (first six drivers are qualified for the Final in Gothenburg on 21 and 22 February):
1. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 27
2. IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 27
3. Boyd Exell (Aus) 23
4. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 22
5. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 17
6. Fredrik Persson (Swe) 17
7. Daniel W?gler (Sui) 16
8. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 11
9. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 10
10. Zoltan Lazar (Hun) 7

The FEI World Cup Driving FINAL event takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 21 and 22 February 2009. Website: www.goteborghorseshow.se

From: F??ation Equestre Internationale, Lausanne

Photo: Rinaldo de Craen

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