De Ronde in top form in Mechelen

Finally, after having come second three times behind Boyd Exell, Dutch driver Koos de Ronde managed to beat the unbeatable Australian in the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup Driving in Mechelen, Belgium, sponsored by Willy Naessens Industrie-en Zwembadbouw. De Ronde?s countryman IJsbrand Chardon is making his way back to the top with his new Lipizzaner team and came second, ahead of Stockholm winner Tomas Eriksson.

Photographs by Rinaldo de Craen

Koos de Ronde had an unlucky start in Mechelen when he drove a wrong gate in one of the marathon-type obstacles on the first day. This not only cost him 20 penalty seconds, but he also finished last and thus became the first to start in the World Cup competition proper, which is always a disadvantage. But de Ronde showed his skills and set a very fast time, which allowed him to start last in the drive-off. After Sweden?s Tomas Eriksson and IJsbrand Chardon both had knock downs, De Ronde drove his wonderful team to victory for the second consecutive time in Mechelen.

IJsbrand Chardon made his World Cup debut with the three grey Lipizzaner horses he recently bought from his colleague Jozsef Dobrobitz from Hungary. The team was completed with one of his experienced bay KWPN horses and Chardon finally managed to claim a Top Two placing again. After his fourth and third place in Hannover and Stuttgart, Chardon realized he had to make a move in order to be able to beat De Ronde and Exell next season.

Former World Cup competitor and wild card driver Gert Schrijvers came fourth in the strong competitors field in Mechelen. Schrijvers is known for driving Arab-Friesian sport horses, but is gradually switching to Dutch warm blood horses since last summer. The multiple Belgian Champion and World Championship medal winner drove a mix of KWPN and Arab-Friesian horses in at Mechelen, where he was cheered by a very enthusiastic audience, who were waving at the competitors with white handkerchiefs, which created a special atmosphere.

The second wild card went to Boyd Exell, who has been in the lead of the standings since the start of the season. Exell nearly made the same mistake as De Ronde on the first day, taking a wrong gate, but could pull his team back and avoid 20 penalty seconds. After that incident however, Exell lost touch with his team and knocked five balls down, which dropped him to the last place. This did not affect his leading position however, since a wild card driver does not get any points. Exell has now finished his World Cup season and will enjoy a holiday in Australia before the Final in Geneva in April.

After five competitions, it is clear that Boyd Exell, Koos de Ronde, Tomas Erikson and IJsbrand Chardon are certain of a starting place for the FEI World Cup Driving Final. With two more competitions to go in Leipizg and Bordeaux, the fifth and sixth drivers will present themselves. Both Swiss drivers Ulrich and W?gler will have a chance to represent their home country in Geneva, as well as Jozsef Dobrovitz who will have to win in Leipzig to be able to book his tickets for Switzerland.


Koos de Ronde (Ned): ?Finally first again! It went really well for me and when Exell made the mistake in the first round, I took it as a gift.? ?I nearly made the same mistake in the winning round as on the first day, but I was extra alert and was able to drive my horses in the right direction straight away again.? ?My horses will now go on holiday until the Final. I use three horses of my father?s outdoor team and they haven?t had a break since the summer season. I owe my good results to them and they deserve time off.?

IJsbrand Chardon (Ned): ?I am very pleased with my new Lipizzaner horses. They have a lot of quality and they get better every time. I competed with them for the first time in a national indoor show in the Netherlands two weeks ago and I am happy with the second place in Mechelen. I notice that I get more control every time, but I still have a lot of work to do. I will use the next months before the Final to make them even better.?

Tomas Eriksson (Swe): ?I was maybe too happy that I made it to the winning round! I drove a good first round, but I thought I would not qualify for the winning round because Exell had to start after me. So I was a little unprepared, but I still knew that I was certain of my third place, so I really went for it. It was a very nice course, which I told Dutch course designer Johan Jacobs. It was good for the public to watch and included fast and technical elements.?

Results CAI-W Mechelen:

1. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 239.22
2. IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 244.92
3. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 255.79
4. Gert Schrijvers (Bel) 133.89 wild card
5. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 135.30
6. Theo Timmerman (Ned) 138.54
7. Boyd Exell (Aus) 148.09 wild card

The next FEI World Cup driving event takes place in Leipzig, Germany, on 22 and 24 January 2010. Website:

FEI World Cup Driving 2009-10
Visit our World Cup page to see points tables, results, event schedule and driver information.


From: F??ation Equestre Internationale, Lausanne