Exell sets the tone at FEI World Cup Final
Boyd Exell made a winning start in the warm up round for the FEI 2011 World Cup Driving Final at the prestigious show held in Germany?s Leipziger Messe.
This impressive venue played host to a record 4 World Cup finals, where the driving shared the limelight with dressage, show jumping and vaulting. An enthusiastic crowd remained in their seats to enjoy the thrill of watching the skill of the drivers negotiate the cones, bridge and obstacles with horse fours.
Results were mixed on the first night, many drivers feeling their way back into the indoor driving competition after a break of several months.
Home driver Georg von Stein replaced wild card driver Christian Pl?ker who unfortunately had to withdraw only two days ago because of two injured horses. Pl?ker had won the special indoor competition at the German Equestrian Centre in Warendorf in February and had herewith claimed the wild card. Von Stein finished second and was therefore the first candidate to replace Pl?ker. Von Stein had kept on training his horses so it was not difficult for him to prepare his team for his first ever World Cup start. He picked up 15 driving penalties, but had a smooth drive through the obstacles to set the early standard.
Sweden's Tomas Eriksson had the crowd clapping along with the stereotypical Abba music. He took a route that proved less popular as the competition progressed but, despite one cone down, this enabled him to improve the time to beat by almost 19 seconds.
Koos De Ronde of the Netherlands unfortunately hit cone 10 out of sequence, which incurred 5 penalties for having the clock stopped to rebuild the course.
Werner Ulrich of Switzerland demolished one of the obstacle gates but this still only incurred 5 penalties although he lost a few valuable seconds but his round left him in second spot.
Boyd Exell, reigning World Champion both indoors and out, drove the only clear round of the night. He said, ?I drove a safe and clean round and took no risks as the cones are set right against the boards. Tomorrow is more of a worry as the arena surface is very loose and the carriages are moving a lot the deeper the footing gets.? Boyd felt this could put him at a disadvantage, being the last to go in the final.
Driving for the Netherlands, Ijsbrand Chardon, Boyd?s long standing rival for top honours, drove an uncharacteristic round incurring 20 penalties for an error of course when he missed a gate in the first obstacle then drove it backwards.
J?sef Dobrovitz of Hungary was the final competitor but a missed gate in the second obstacle which, added to three knock down elements and 3 cones falling, left him in last place going into the final round. Boyd said, ?The worst thing that could happen for me was Chardon making that mistake. That will make him so determined tomorrow he?ll be out for blood. That won?t happen again with Ijsbrand.?
Boyd Exell: ?My team in Mechelen was so fit, it felt like water skiing! I am very pleased with my team in Leipzig, I kept them on the ground. This was just a warm up round so I am not getting too excited about it.?
Tomas Eriksson: ?I am happy with my horses. I used my horse Speedy in the lead again. I normally only use him at outdoor shows but this is the third time this season that he has been in the lead of my team and he does a great job. My new carriage went well, I sometimes even forgot to use the brakes!?
Koos de Ronde: ?I was not paying attention myself which was rather stupid, but I am convinced I will do better on Sunday in the World Cup Final. At the Final in Geneva last year, we had the same situation. All drivers are a bit ring rusty but the horses are in good shape even after a long break and they will be back in shape quickly.
The 2011 World Cup Final takes place on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. BST.
Results warm up round CAI-W Leipzig 2011:
1. Boyd Exell (Aus) 125,63 (0)
|From: F??ation Equestre Internationale, Lausanne|