Category Archives: Driving

International Stars Shine Bright on Final Day of Royal Windsor Horse Show

The Rolex Grand Prix provided a fitting finale to the four-day Show, with the finest horse and riders in action to compete for the prestigious prize, which went to Gregory Wathelet. The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix came to a close following three days of intense competition, with Boyd Exell taking the spoils. Elsewhere, the Champagne Laurent Perrier Meet of the British Driving Society, featuring Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor, provided a fantastic spectacle and the final of the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games was won by Wales.

WATHELET RIDES TO GLORY IN THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX

The feature CSI5* class of the day, the Rolex Grand Prix, saw the world’s best horse and rider combinations battle it out for the prestigious title. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s up-to-height 1.60m course proved challenging, with only three riders making it through to the jump-off. The likes of World No. 2 Martin Fuchs, World No. 3 Henrik von Eckermann, and London International Horse Show Grand Prix winner, Harry Charles, all accumulated four faults in the first round.

First to go in the jump-off, Belgian Gregory Wathelet, laid down the gauntlet with the tightest of turns to the Rolex double at the far end of the arena and flying down to the final fence to set the time to beat of 34.79 seconds aboard Nevados S. Max Kühner was next to take up the challenge, and he set out meaning business with Elektric Blue P, but he was not able to match Wathelet’s time, leaving it to Daniel Bluman as the final remaining rider able to take over the lead. Bluman was able to get closer to Wathelet’s time, but in doing so accrued four faults at the very last fence, leaving him in third.

Wathelet said: “It is amazing to win a Grand Prix, especially a Rolex Grand Prix. I jumped in the Nations Cup at La Baule last week and the horse was jumping really well, so I was confident coming to Royal Windsor that he was on great form. It was a tough course which was very up to height, but I thought there would be more clears from the top combinations. Even though there weren’t many riders in the jump-off you still have to go fast and clear to win. The Show is incredible; the atmosphere and the crowds are amazing; all of the riders love coming here.”

THE CHARLES DYNASTY RULE AT ROYAL WINDSOR

The Show Jumping got off to an early start with the Protexin Equine Under-25 Jumping Competition featuring Great Britain’s top up-and-coming young riders. Of the seven combinations who went through to the second round, it was Sienna Charles riding Chinta Van Geluut Z who set the pace as second to go, jumping an immaculate round in a time of 34.93 seconds. Those who followed were unable to match Charles’ standard, with Joe Fernyhough coming closest with a clear in a time of 35.42 to finish second, ahead of Oliver Fletcher in third.

A delighted Charles said: “This class is one I’ve always wanted to win; I’ve come close a couple of times so I’m really pleased with how it’s gone today. I was off a lot of last year with injury or illness, so I took her [Chinta Van Geluut Z] to Spain to build up for the season and I’m really happy with her today.”

The Manama Rose Show Stakes was a speed class with riders jumping one round of 12 fences against the clock. Home favourite John Whitaker took an early lead, setting the standard with an impressive display of speed and agility. Compatriot Guy Williams, known for his skill against the clock, set off meaning business, but took an extra pull down to the last, which denied him pole position. It was Britain’s leading lady rider, Holly Smith, who was the first to put Whitaker’s lead in jeopardy, and with a forward stride to the last, shaved 0.61 seconds off his time to take the lead at the midway point.

Shane Breen stepped up the pace once again, galloping flat out to the last to set what looked to be an unbeatable target. However, ultimately it was Harry Charles who showed his class, taking over the lead with just four to go with a slick performance aboard Billabong du Roumois. The 22-year-old shaved off over two seconds from Breen’s time to take the victory, the perfect preparation for the afternoon’s Rolex Grand Prix.

Charles said: “He is a new horse to me, and this is our first win together. He is a fantastic horse, who is extremely fast and has a lot of potential, so I am really excited about our future together. I didn’t watch anyone in the jump-off; I just stuck to my plan which was to start off conservatively and build up the speed as the course went on. I can’t believe that we were two and a half seconds faster than everyone else – it truly is an ode to how fast the horse is. He is very similar to my top horse, Stardust. Both are naturally quick and careful – those horses are hard to beat!”

SHOWING CHAMPIONS CROWNED

Her Majesty The Queen only narrowly missed another win in the show ring. Her home-bred five-year-old Fool’s Paradise — rated “a star in the making” by rider/producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable — was second in the Novice Riding Horse sponsored by Mr and Mrs Phil Swallow. Coincidentally, this lovely gelding is the son of a mare called Stardust, whom Jerram-Hunnable rode to win the Ladies’ Show Horse class twice here in the past. The overall title went to Cheshire producer Vicky Smith with the Mears family’s Times Square.

Chief Showing steward Sebastian Garner was in celebration mode when his daughter Kinvara topped the Intermediate Show Hunters, riding the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding Despicable Me for her employers, Steve Pitt and Vicky Smith.

Senior Castle Arena Showing Steward and long-time Royal Windsor supporter Philip Judge was also beside himself with joy when his oldest son, Harry, seven, won the Lead Rein Show Hunter Pony class with his charming grey pony, Thistledown Snowfall. Judge, who owns an international haulage company, has stewarded at the show for many years, and also competed here as a child.

At the other end of the equine size scale, Forgelands Hyde Park — Friday’s Hack Champion with producer Danielle Heath — returned to the Show to land the Intermediate Championship with his owner’s daughter, Issy Mears.

EXELL SECURES VICTORY

At the end of a thrilling three days of international action, Boyd Exell (AUS) stormed home the winner of the CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix nearly 16 penalties clear of his closest rival, Glenn Geerts (BEL). Having led from the start with an untouchable Dressage score, Boyd held on to his lead through the Marathon phase despite mounting pressure from Geerts and eventual third place Michael Brauchle (GER). However, Exell’s early advantage was too much for his competitors to match, and even a handful of penalties in the Cones kept him well clear of his rivals.

The Team title went to Belgium, whose line-up of Dries Degrieck, Glenn Geerts, and Tom Stokmans clinched the competition by just 0.51 of a point over Germany’s Michael Brauchle, Mareike Harm, and Rene Poensgen.

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

The Sun Shines on Smith at Royal Windsor Horse Show

Photo: Holly Smith pushes to the finish to claim victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup.

The top class international competition continued on day three of Royal Windsor Horse Show, with the world’s best show jumpers and carriage drivers in action. Other action included the Inter Schools Show Jumping Competition supported by Mochara, which was won by Seaford College. There was also a presentation to the Best Turned Out Trooper, which was awarded to Prince Ainuson riding Northumberland.

NO CONFUSION FOR FTS KILLOSSERY KONFUSION

The opening CSI5* class of the day, the Falcon Stakes, took the top 10 riders from the first round into a jump-off against the clock. It was left to third to go, Jos Verlooy riding Fts Killossery Konfusion, to set the target with the first double clear in an impressive 39.64 seconds. The Belgian rider pulled off some impressive turns with the 11-year-old grey gelding to put the pressure on those to follow. David Will showed that the time could be beaten; however, his four faults meant he was only able to finish fifth. Wilm Vermeir gave it his best shot as last to go, but he was not able to catch his Belgian teammate, posting a time of 39.83 seconds with Linguine de La Pomme to finish in second and make it a Belgian one-two. Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme took third, with Lorenzo de Luca in fourth.

Speaking after the class, Verlooy said: “It is fantastic to win here – it is such an amazing Show, probably one of the best in the world. Fts Killossery Konfusion was great today; he is a naturally fast horse and wants to leave the jumps up, so I feel very lucky to ride him. I am very excited for the Rolex Grand Prix tomorrow – I will ride Luciano van het Geinsteinde who was second in the CSI5* Pearl Stakes yesterday, so I am feeling very confident.”

Later in the day, attention turned to the Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup. The 1.55m course set by Bernardo Costa Cabral proved challenging, with just three combinations progressing through to the jump-off. First into the arena for the second round, Lorenzo de Luca, set the standard with a clear round in the time of 33.63 seconds. Holly Smith, a former winner of this class in 2019, made up time with tight turns throughout and galloping down to the last to take over the pole position aboard Fruselli. Abdel Saïd put in a strong performance to threaten Holly’s lead, but in the end could only manage enough for second place.

A delighted Smith said: “I am elated with Fruselli today – he was incredible, and I am so pleased for his owners Sue and Gordon Hall. I won this class in 2019, on the Hall’s Hearts Destiny, who sadly passed away two years ago, so to win here today on this horse feels extra special. The course rode really well, so I was surprised there were so few clears. In the jump-off, I took risks and really went for it, as the worst I could be was third, but those risks played off! I love it here and the crowd has been amazing – it is such an honour to win on home soil.”

LAND ROVER SERVICES JUMPING

In a stellar year of competition, a fantastic morning of action in Her Majesty The Queen’s Challenge Cup for Services Team Jumping Competition supported by Land Rover set the scene in the Castle Arena.

The Challenge Cup presented by Her Majesty The Queen, awarded to the first placed service team riding United Kingdom Service horses was awarded this year to the Defence Animal Training Regiment A team. The team, consisting of Captain Harry Grantham and Willow Clover Promise, CoH Andrew Mancey with Paardeburg, and WO2 Michael McGrath riding Middleham finished on a team score of 4 penalties after the latter posted a careful clear round in the second phase. The team won clear ahead of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery A Team on 12 penalties.

Of the non-horsed units competing for The Queen’s Plate, the Army 3 team of Captain Amy Lambert and Pirate’s Puzzle, Trooper Dylan Hinton and Ultimate II, and Major Daniel Gregory with Neighbourhood Watch Archie finished on a score of 0 to take the title. Lambert – nominated to ride the second phase – completed the jump-off clear with a time of 57.53 in front of cheering crowds.

The new section introduced for 2022, The Jorrocks Challenge Trophy for international teams, was lifted on its inaugural occasion by the Bahrain Defence Force team of Ahmed Mansoor Ali Maki and Zamzam, Mohamed Saif Alnairi and Consuela Van Verst, and Basel Mohamed Aldoseri on Amalfi. With a time of 43.22, the latter was also presented the prize from The Worshipful Company of saddlers to the highest placed rider in phase two.

MAJESTIC DAY OF SHOWING

Although missing out on a win, Her Majesty The Queen still had plenty to celebrate when Sunbeam, her home-bred In-Hand Coloured Reserve Champion from Thursday, returned under saddle to stand third in a very strong CHAPS UK ridden class. The delightful five-year-old gelding was ridden by producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable, whose husband Chris led him to Thursday’s win.

Her Majesty collected another rosette when young rider Libby Grota partnered the prolific-winning Highland stallion Balmoral Mandarin to stand third in an extremely strong BSPS Ridden Large Breeds Native class supported by Smart Grooming.

Chris Hunnable partnered another of The Queen’s homebred stars, the ex-racehorse First Receiver to be third in the Tattersalls RoR In-Hand Show Series Qualifier, following his second place in the ridden equivalent on Thursday.

The prestigious Royal Windsor Show Pony Championship went to Harpenden-based Poppy Baxter-Davies who delivered a great performance on the 128cm winner, Roxair’s Aphrodite.

The Show’s Chief Showing Steward, Sebastian Garner, was able to witness his niece, India Till, repeat last year’s Novice Show Pony victory with the lovely 148cm winner, Rotherwood Fancy That, who is only five years old and relatively inexperienced, but performed like a seasoned campaigner.

EXCITEMENT BUILDS IN THE INTERNATIONAL DRIVING

The top 15 four-in-hand drivers in the world drove true to form over Jeroen Houterman’s open and flowing, yet questioning, marathon course. All the drivers chose to follow different routes and show their skills to the large and appreciative crowd which had gathered round the eight beautifully designed obstacles.

Germany’s marathon specialist Michael Brauchle put in a brilliant and consistent performance to lead the Marathon and go up one place overnight to sixth. Dressage leader, Boyd Exell, had a few costly knock-down balls and although he only finished fifth on the Marathon, retains his lead after the dressage. Chester Weber drove his up-and-coming team of horses smoothly to go from fourth to second place, having flown them in from the USA on Wednesday. The heat suited the team who are used to the Florida temperatures, and they performed to their best.

The two Belgian drivers Glen Geerts and Dries Degrieck are neck and neck after the two phases, and lying in third and fourth place, respectively, with less than a point separating them. Top lady driver Mareike Harm drove an elegant round and, although not quite as fast on the clock, sits in fifth. Speaking after her round, the German driver said: “We really enjoy being here at Windsor. It was fantastic yesterday in the dressage and I was so happy to be third. The marathon was brilliant and I’m very happy.”

The three British drivers accrued penalty points for corrected errors of course. British driver Karen Basset said: “I’ve had a great time and it was a great learning curve, but I felt I let them down today as I went sailing past Gate A in the last obstacle before I corrected my course! My horses gave me everything.”

Andrew Counsell, Director of Driving, said: “A lot of work was put into the eight obstacles and we felt that they really flowed. They didn’t cause the horses difficulty and there were both tight turns and flowing routes. There was some really good driving which is what Jeroen and I planned ahead of the event. We really appreciate having the world’s top drivers here in this wonderful setting.”

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Her Majesty The Queen in Jubilant Spirits at Royal Windsor Horse Show

The CSI5* Show Jumping and CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving got underway on day two of Royal Windsor Horse Show, with the world’s best horse and rider combinations in action. Elsewhere, Her Majesty The Queen was in attendance to watch her beloved Fell Pony, Balmoral Leia, being crowned The Horse & Hound Mountain and Moorland Supreme In-Hand Champion and the Jack Wetzel Coaching Marathon provided a spectacle as they headed down the Long Walk.

WORLD’S BEST SHOW JUMPERS RETURN TO CASTLE ARENA

The opening CSI5* class of the Show, a two-phase competition, went to 2020 Olympic team gold medalist Henrik von Eckermann. Guy Williams took the early lead aboard Rouge de Ravel, making all the turns to set a time to beat of 25.66 and giving the crowd something to cheer about. For much of the class, it looked like Williams was going to bring home a British victory; however, Christian Ahlmann riding Calvino 16 rode a masterful second phase against the clock to take the lead. With just four to go, von Eckermann, partnering the nine-year-old mare Iliana, jumped a flawless round to shave 0.04 seconds of Ahlmann’s time to secure the victory.

The feature class of the day, The Pearl Stakes, was a 1.55m jump-off class featuring some of the best horses and riders in the world. Of the 13 combinations going through to the second round, 10 were former World No. 1s. Daniel Deusser set the pace as third to go, with the first double clear in a time of 36.32. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s course proved challenging, with many riders accruing faults when trying to catch Deusser. Jos Velooy came closest with Luciano van het Geinsteinde, posting a time of 37.46. John Whitaker showed his experience to go into third with just two left to go; however, no-one was able to match Deusser’s performance, leaving the German to take the spoils.

Speaking after the class, Deusser said: “Royal Windsor Horse Show is a fantastic event; it is a great feeling to be standing here as the winner in front of such a big crowd and with Windsor Castle in the background. Bingo Ste Hermelle is a small and nimble horse, so I can go very fast in the jump-off. I will give him tomorrow off in preparation for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. I think if I make it to the jump-off on Sunday then we have a very good chance of winning!”

HER MAJESTY’S DELIGHT AS FELL PONY TAKES CHAMPIONSHIP

Showing success continued for Her Majesty The Queen, who was on hand to watch as her beautiful home-bred Highland mare, Balmoral Leia, claimed the prestigious Horse & Hound Mountain and Moorland Supreme In Hand Championship in the Castle Arena.

The five-year-old was beautifully shown by producer Lizzie Briant to win a strong adult class — also watched by Her Majesty — before the reins were handed over to Lizzie’s friend and fellow native pony enthusiast, Henry Hird, in the final reckoning.

“She’s a beautiful mare, and this success is entirely down to Lizzie, who has produced her beautifully — I was just handed the lucky reins for the Championship,” said Henry, who earlier showed The Queen’s yearling colt, Balmoral Duke, to be third in the Strong Youngstock class.

“Leia is such a pretty mare and a joy to have,” added Lizzie. “She is also broken-in to ride, and I have high hopes for her.”

Yorkshireman Robert Walker claimed an impressive fourth consecutive Hunter Championship sponsored by ClipMyHorse.TV title aboard Jill Day’s extraordinary reigning Horse of the Year Show champion View Point.

The prestigious Novice Hunter Championship supported by Alan Marnie Manwah title — always another major aim at Royal Windsor — fell this year to racing enthusiast Liz Prowting’s five-year-old lightweight victor Bloomfield President, ably partnered by young rider Alice Homer.

BOYD EXELL TAKES EARLY LEAD IN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING

Day one of the Royal Windsor CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix went to current indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS), who scored just shy of 80% to clinch a lead in the Dressage. With a margin of just over 5%, he sits ahead of multiple Dutch champion Isjbrand Chardon with a score of 74.3%. In third with 71.8% is Germany’s Mareike Harm, one of two ladies in the Horse Fours class. The USA’s Chester Weber is in fourth. The highest placed British competitor is Daniel Naprous who scored 60.6% to take him into 10th place.  Ahead of Saturday’s Marathon phase – which promises to be an exhilarating test for all 15 drivers – the obstacles look challenging but flow well around the scenic parkland of Windsor Castle. Boyd will be the firm favourite to retain the title he won last year, but Marathon specialists Koos de Ronde and Glenn Gerts will be pushing him all the way.

A WELCOME RETURN TO INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION AT ROYAL WINDSOR ENDURANCE

The Royal Windsor Endurance ride, kindly supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain, took place with fifty-four combinations riding tracks round the stunning Windsor Great Park to compete in CEI3* 160km, CEI2*/YJ 120km, and CEI1*/YJ 100km classes.

Riders representing countries including Uruguay, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, and India set out on Friday morning in near perfect weather conditions. The day remained sunny but cool, and although dusty, the tracks benefitted a little from the rain earlier in the week.

News of the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates emerged during the ride, and as a result some of those representing UAE made the decision to retire.

The CEI3* 160km was won by Bahrain’s HH Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Coeur De Ghazal in a total time of 07:41:27. The CEI2* 120km had a Bahrain one, two, three and was won by Mohamed Abdulhameed Alhashemi riding Darco la Majorie in a time of 04:58:17. In the CEI1* 100km, it was Kuwait’s Abdalaziz F M D Al Mutairi on Dune Du Claud in 04:36:10. The young riders did not complete.

Great Britain had eleven competitors in total and seven finished, with a particularly strong showing in the 100Km, where all British Riders finished. Nicola Thorne placed second on L.I.Wallonia in 05:00:08 and Annie Joppe third on HS Chiara in 05:22:47.

Royal Windsor Endurance Director, Nick Brooks-Ward, said: “We were so pleased to welcome international competitors back to Royal Windsor Endurance today. The course was excellent and there was a tremendous atmosphere of care and cooperation amongst competitors and crews. We are grateful to the officials, sponsors, and to the Crown Estate whose hard work ensures the fabulous environment in the Great Park. Our very grateful thanks also to the Kingdom of Bahrain for providing the funding for such a tremendous ride.”

President of the Ground Jury, Brian Dunn (IRL), said: “As usual for Royal Windsor, it was a well-run and well-organised event. The course was great, technical, and testing and we had an experienced, capable team of officials. Horses were ably cared for with welfare at the forefront of everyone’s minds.”

President of the Treating Veterinarians, Tom Eaton-Evans (GBR), said: “The sign of a good ride today was that we treated very few horses. Some were kept under observation, but the treating team was quiet all day.  One horse has been taken to Newmarket Equine Hospital for assessment for a hindlimb lameness. No others needed any medical intervention.”

To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Bram Storms Round to Become FEI Driving World Cup Champion

L-R: Boyd Exell (AUS) in second place, Bram Chardon (NED) World Cup Champion, and Glenn Geerts (BEL) in third place. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

In one of the tightest finals in recent history, Bram Chardon (NED) brilliantly held his nerve and clinched his second FEI Driving World Cup™ title in an exhilarating drive off against reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS) and Glen Geerts (BEL). After a cat and mouse game of swapping positions between the two favourites, it was the 28-year-old soon-to-be father who triumphed in Leipzig.

“I was a bit disappointed about the two knock-downs and I thought I gave Boyd too much room to win. After Friday I was so confident and to have the two faults made me worry a little bit about my final position, but this is amazing and I am so happy!” said Chardon.

After the first round, held late on Friday night in the Leipziger Messe arena, Bram was ahead of Boyd by just under 8 seconds, so started Sunday’s second round on zero. Each driver carried over 50% of the difference between their score and Bram’s going into the final day and as the tension mounted, Boyd, with a penalty score of 3.78, stated, “It’s less than one ball down between us!”

Former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) was the first to drive Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) twisting course, the route unchanged since Friday but the position of some of the obstacles slightly altered. Koos had paid the price for his attacking approach on Friday, clocking up a penalty of 18.99 to carry forward. Back on his usual smooth form, he only nudged one ball, and in a time of 143.19 finished fifth on 166.18.  Next in was Mareike Harm (GER), the first female to compete in an indoor FEI Driving final. Her horses, who she also drives at outdoor events, were off pace in 155.51 and with one ball off, plus a penalty of 14.05, she dropped to seventh on 173.56.

Wild card driver Michael Brauchle (GER), who had set a competitive time on Friday, rolled three balls to add to his time of 144.22, plus a penalty of 10.57 to finish sixth on 166.79.  As the fourth starter, Glen Geerts (BEL) carried over 10.27 but drove a fantastic clear and finished on 148.89 to put himself into the final three. Belgian teammate Dries Degrieck, in his first FEI indoor season, dropped out of contention for the drive off with an unlucky ball on the final obstacle number 13, which cost him the valuable place as he finished behind Glen on 159.68.

As the intensity in the arena grew, Boyd pulled off one of the best rounds of the competition to close the gap between him and Bram. Leaving all the balls on top, he clocked up a time of 132.42, which plus his penalty put him on 136.2.

Admitting that he was extremely nervous, Bram drew on all his experience and matchplay to drive an even faster time of 132.33 but knocking one ball, finished on 136.33, which flipped the order and put Boyd into first place ahead of the drive off between the best three.

The enthusiastic crowd got behind the drivers and increased the already electrifying atmosphere, clapping to the beat of the music. First in was Glen, with his big outdoor horses, who he says are 1.5m longer and up to 20cm higher than the other teams. Having not considered that he would be in the drive off, he said after that he hadn’t thought about the different routes in obstacles 5 & 9 when two gates were taken out. While in 5, he knocked cone 6, so the clock was stopped and he was given an additional 10 penalties. He started again, having taken the foot off the pace, and with another ball down, ended his competition in third place on 323.73.

Bram re-entered the arena and rising to the challenge, produced another exceptional round in 118.39, knocking one ball. But he had done enough to really apply the pressure to Boyd.

All eyes were on the Australian, who was aiming to take his tenth indoor title, and he began in convincing style with all those watching believing that he would retain his title. Yet everyone gasped as right at the end, his horses lost balance between the final two obstacles and he hit cone two, rolling the ball, which crowned Bram World Champion.

In a rousing gesture during the prizegiving, the loudest cheer went to Bram’s proud father, the legendary Ijsbrand Chardon, multiple champion, who came in to hold the reins while Bram took to the podium. After receiving their prizes, champagne was sprayed around then the three drivers performed their famous ‘showboat’ before Bram was left alone to absorb the cheers from an adoring audience and exit at the gallop with his stunning grey horses wearing their new, red winners’ rugs.

Still grinning at the press conference, Bram commented that it was fantastic to have Mareike in the final, and he hoped it went to prove that driving a four-in-hand wasn’t all about strength, but as much about the training and getting the equipment right.

A fitting finale to a fantastic competition, after a much-shortened season, the drivers are now looking towards the outdoor event at Kronenberg (NED). All being well, we can look forward to a full programme of FEI Driving World Cup™ events for the 2022-23 season and much more excitement in this riveting contest between the world’s very best.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Bram Takes the Lead in FEI Driving World Cup Final

Bram Chardon (NED) (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

As the final competitor to start late on Friday night for the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final in Leipzig (GER), Bram Chardon (NED) laid down his claim to the 2022 title with a fantastic drive.

Smoothly steering his four-in-hand of grey horses through Jeroen Houterman’s (NED) flowing course of thirteen obstacles, he managed to leave the balls on top and recorded a blistering time of 135.80 secs. Reigning champion Boyd Exell (AUS), who is aiming for his 10th indoor title, was the sixth competitor to go and had set the fastest time of the night of 143.35 with no balls down.  Dries Degreick (BEL), in his first FEI World Cup™ Final, drove a quick course but with one ball down finished in third on a score of 152.76.

“It is incredible to start the finals here. I watched the others on the screen. I knew Boyd by far was the quickest time, so I thought, if I can get near his time, I am going to be happy!” a delighted Bram said. “Definitely I was planning on staying clear. I was trying to go a little bit safer, but then when the horses felt so good, I just let them go and pushed them to the end, when I knew there was more in it; this is fantastic.”

Seven of the world’s leading horse four-in-hand Drivers are competing in the 20th Indoor Final which was last held in Bordeaux in February 2020. For the first time a female driver is competing, Mareike Harm (GER), who drove a smooth round but knocked three balls and finished in sixth place on 163.89. Fellow German, Michael Brauchle, the wild card entry, ended the night in fifth on 156.94.

Glenn Geerts (BEL), was fourth on 156.94 after driving a clear but slower round.  Making uncharacteristic mistakes was former champion Koos de Ronde (NED) who ended in seventh on 173.78 after knocking several balls and incurring extra penalties for having to stop so the course could be rebuilt.

All the Drivers are now eligible to return for the second round of the Final on Sunday. They will drive in reverse order and the top three will drive again to decide the final placings.  All except Bram, who will start with a penalty score, which is 50% of the differential between theirs and the leader’s score.

Full results here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Boyd Exell Aims to Take His 10th FEI Driving World Cup Championship in Leipzig

Mareike Harm (GER) (FEI/Jon Stroud)

For the first time since 2008 the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final returns to Leipzig (GER) to round off the 2021-22 indoor season. The Driving will take place alongside the FEI World Cup™ Finals for Dressage, Jumping, and Vaulting.

Six of the world’s best international four-in-hand drivers will be vying to take the title in this enthralling event.  Requiring skill, agility, and bravery, teams of four powerful horses must work together as they are steered at the gallop through a combination of obstacles and pairs of cones, with many tight twists and turns.  Although competitors aim for the fastest time, they must also be accurate as penalties are added for any balls that are knocked off.  This event is a popular spectacle which engages the crowd, the electric atmosphere enhanced with rock music and theatrical lighting.

Reigning indoor and outdoor FEI Driving World Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) leads the rankings going into the final.  Winner of more Four-in-Hand World Championships than any other driver, Boyd first took the indoor World Cup title in 2009 in Gothenburg (SWE).  He admits it has been a difficult season, with the early events running so close to each other at the end of 2021, then a long wait until the final.  Having won three of the four qualifying events in Lyon, Stockholm, and then London just before Christmas, Boyd said, “We are keeping our teams, both horse and human, focussed and not taking anything for granted.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the competition.”

Course designer Jeroen Houterman (NED), who designed the tracks in Lyon and London, is keeping his course a secret until he gets to Leipzig.  Mindful of the lack of competition practice the horses have had going into the finals, he has created the sort of test he would produce at the beginning of a season, making it relatively simple.  He hopes his design will encourage flowing driving that is not too difficult on the horses and when walking the course, drivers should be able to see what their options are.

The six qualified finalists are Boyd Exell (AUS), Bram Chardon (NED), who won in Geneva, Koos de Ronde (NED), Glenn Geerts (BEL), Dries Degrieck (BEL), and Mareike Harm (GER).  A seventh, ‘wild card’ competitor has been invited to drive too, Michael Brauchle (GER), but the rules state that he cannot contend for the title.

Competition will be fierce between these talented drivers, with both Koos and Bram being previous title holders, and the home crowd will be cheering loudest for Michael and Mareike, who has the accolade of being the first female to compete at the final.  Mareike had an excellent drive in London and finished in third place, which helped seal her place in Leipzig.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has not been an FEI World Cup™ Final since Bordeaux in February 2020, and this year the event is being held in April, which is later than usual.  However, the drivers, their horses, and the support teams around them are all highly experienced and will have altered their preparation to take this timing into account.

Driving Ground Jury President, Mark Wentein (BEL), said, “After the Covid-19 lockdowns and cancellation of some of the planned FEI World Cup qualifiers, the top drivers from the international driving scene are very keen to start in Leipzig for the final. Personally, I am convinced that the battle and the sporting standards will be very high. You have of course the World Champion and the title holder Boyd Exell (AUS), but perhaps some other drivers will put the pressure on his shoulders. Anyway, Leipzig will host the four different legs of FEI World Cup Finals and will be the most thrilling moment of the indoor season 2021-22. I expect great sportsmanship from all the competitors.”

Further information on the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final can be found here.

by Sarah Dance

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Amateur Riders Make Time to Shine at Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit

Jeanie Presler and Lovies Lil Rey, Cody Parmenter Photography.

Tampa, Fla. – Dec. 29, 2021 – Unlike professional horsemen, amateur riders need to make a plan in order to take time away from their careers and attend the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit. Throughout the week they come to Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds to enjoy what matters the most to them, spending time with their families and riding their horses in one of the most prestigious Quarter Horse shows in the country.

Kaleena Weakly of Shelbyville, Illinois is a part-time graphic designer and a stay-at-home mom. Weakly has a lengthy and successful show record at the Gold Coast. She took a four-year break to care for matters at home, and now she and her family use the five-day event as a holiday vacation. Weakly won the Amateur Hunter Seat Equitation class with her horse Definitely a First, making the family vacation a memorable one.

Jeanie Presler of Nokomis, Florida is a Mixed-Animal General Practitioner. She returns to the Gold Coast after a 20-year hiatus due to a demanding school and career schedule. The VRH Amateur Ranch Horse divisions were new to Presler and her Reined Cow Horse Lovies Lil Rey. It worked out well as she and her eight-year-old birthday present finished on top in the VRH Amateur Ranch Horse Reining class.

Leah Roehl of Ruther Glen, Virginia is busy as a government worker and a mother of five children. It took a great deal of planning for Roehl to make it to the Gold Coast. The support she receives from her family and friends makes the herculean effort to compete all worthwhile. Roehl and her gelding AlDoWhatYouLove won the Senior Pleasure Driving and L1 Novice Amateur Working Hunter classes.

For additional information on the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit, please visit flgoldcoastcircuit.com.

Rodger Call Is Super at the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit

Rodger Call, Cody Parmenter Photography.

Tampa, Fla. – Dec. 28, 2021 – The Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit is renowned for hosting Quarter Horse competitors of all ages at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center vying for the coveted year-end awards. This year, the five-day event includes a unique participant, Rodger Call of Midway, Utah, the only Super Select rider out of the more than 500 exhibitors and 20,000 plus entries at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

“To be a Select rider you have to be 50 years old, and to be a Super Select rider you need to be at least 70 years old. I am the only Super Select rider at this show,” Call said proudly. “I turn 80 years old next month.”

Call has been competing at the Gold Coast for decades, even though it means taking two flights in two different airport terminals to arrive in Tampa.

“This show is one of my favorites. I have been coming here for years,” said Call. “I can remember when the hedges around the arena were really short and now, they’re huge! Years ago, there were elephants in the barns behind the arena that were part of the parade.”

Call will be competing in the driving and hunter divisions. He has been training with Chuck Briggs since 1989, although he receives additional support both in and out of the arena.

“We’re like family here; we all encourage each other,” said Call. “Trainer Linda Crothers rode my horse, Go Big Sky, to High Point Horse of the nation and Sandy Vaughn coaches me when I compete in the pleasure driving. Even though I don’t have my horses at her barn, she offers to help. We have a good group of people. Sometimes we go out to dinner after the show and have a great time.”

Horses have always been a family affair for Call. He grew up in Northern California where his father imported some of the first King Ranch Quarter Horses. On Friday nights, he and his dad would enjoy competing in team roping jackpot classes. When his son Robert wanted to ride in the jumping events, Call changed from riding Western to English.

Call added, “I also used to compete at the Gold Coast with my wife Ann before she passed away in 2007. We would always have both a junior and senior horse to show. Next year, my junior horse becomes a senior, so Chuck found me a junior horse that has a lot of potential. That is what keeps me going: potential and having fun. That’s what riding does. It keeps me active, happy, and looking forward to tomorrow.”

For additional information on the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit, please visit flgoldcoastcircuit.com.

The World’s Best in Action on Day Three of The London International Horse Show

Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 individual gold medalists Ben Maher and Explosion W took centre stage in a dedicated celebration of his Olympic success. With the crowd on its feet, the pair left the arena to Alesso’s Heroes, a fitting tribute to their outstanding achievement.

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International came to a thrilling conclusion with World No. 1 Boyd Exell coming out on top once again.

It was a busy day for the Show Jumpers, opening with The LeMieux Six Bar, which was shared between Alfie Bradstock and Max Kühner, who both produced faultless performances across the five rounds. World No. 4, Martin Fuchs, made it a London International Horse Show 2021 treble in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes, with The Longines Christmas Cracker going to XX.

Other notable highlights include wins for Jessica Clarehugh with Avonwolf Beanies Dizzy Dora in The Kennel Club Dog Agility Stakes Finals, and Robert Murphy receiving the Ella Popely Award, presented each year in recognition of the rider between the ages of 18 and 25 who has shown the qualities of being a true sportsman or woman: representing the sport well, acting as a team player, and encouraging others to excel.

EXCELLENT EXELL STRIKES AGAIN

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International saw the top three Drivers go through to a drive-off which had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Germany’s Mareike Harm set the pace with an accurate round, finishing with clear in a time of 143.70. Koos De Ronde from The Netherlands was second in and put in an impressive performance to cross the line in 137.25 seconds; however, with four penalties to add, his score of 141.25 left the window open for last to go, Boyd Exell. The Australian was down on the time in the first half; however, a spectacular second section saw him make up over three seconds with no penalties to add, to win by a wide margin.

Exell said: “This is such a fabulous arena; the sound system is great, the crowd sound even clearer, and they are really with you for every turn. We had a change from yesterday; we were resting one of the wheelers as he had done three shows in a row. It was a tactic because we are wildcards. Annabel and Simon Brooks-Ward invited me to be here, so it’s a chance to do well but also to try some different things and it worked out today.”

Great Britain’s Daniel Naprous added: “I just want to say thank you to The London International Horse Show for being brave enough to put on the event and give us somewhere incredible to compete at. The atmosphere has been amazing tonight and I am so grateful to be here.”

JACK’S THE KING OF THE PACK

Nine combinations went through to the jump-off of The Longines Christmas Cracker. Eager to set an unattainable target, the first four to go against the clock all picked up penalties en route. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker was the first to post a clear, jumping a smooth but relatively conservative round aboard Valmy de la Lande to ensure his place in the prizes. With those who followed also accumulating faults in their attempts to increase the pace, Finland’s Noora Forsten was rewarded for her tactics in jumping a steady clear round, finishing in second, with Harry Charles back in third, the fastest of the four faulters.

A delighted Whitaker said: “It’s difficult to put into words to be honest. I’ve been wanting to compete here since I was a little kid. I’ve been coming to this show for as long as I can remember; it’s what I’ve always dreamed of and I got lucky tonight. It wasn’t a great jump-off course for me tonight, and so when I saw the ones ahead of me knocking jumps down, I thought I might get away with just jumping a nice clear, and I did.”

The world’s best Show Jumpers battled it out in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes. The top 10 from the first round went through to the jump-off, carrying forward any penalties incurred. The first to secure the coveted first double clear, Austria’s Max Kühner, set the pace of 39.28 seconds; however, Martin Fuchs, already a double winner at the Show this week, pulled out all the stops to take the lead with an impressive time of 36.20 aboard Tam Tam du Valon.

The Swiss World No. 4 was looking hard to beat. Dutchman Harrie Smolders came close with a beautifully smooth round in a time of 37.72, as did Germany’s Christian Ahlmann; their efforts were only good enough for third and second place, respectively, leaving Fuchs with his third London International Horse Show 2021 victory.

The Lemieux Six Bar provided top-class entertainment. 13 starters lined up to face the six-obstacle course, run over a knock-out format, whereby those jumping clear in the first rounds went through to face the increasingly imposing course. Just two combinations made it to the fifth round, with the final fence standing at an incredible 1.90m – Austria’s Max Kühner riding EIC Coriolis des Isles and Great Britain’s Aflie Bradstock aboard H. d’Or.

Up first, Kühner put on a foot perfect performance to secure his place at the top of the leaderboard and placing the pressure on Bradstock. The Brit rose to the occasion with a fine display of athleticism to match Kühner’s feat and share the honours, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Celebrating his first London International Horse Show victory, Bradstock said: “It’s amazing just to even compete here, and to win something is a real dream come true. This horse is a Puissance specialist, and the Six Bar was a something extra that we thought we may as well give a go while we’re here. I never expected him to do that, but with the support of the audience he just got better and better. The crowd was fantastic; to have the home crowd cheering like that was unbelievable.”

Kühner added: “I’m really enjoying the Show; it’s fantastic because the crowd is still the same; they give us such a boost; it almost feels like we have wings. The London crowd really is stunning;S it was really special. My horse is only nine, but he is incredibly talented already, and has achieved a lot this year. He’s done a great job today and I have a good feeling about tomorrow too.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Dujardin Delivers Sensational Double in London

It was an action packed second day of The London International Horse Show at ExCeL London. In addition to spectacular international competition in three FEI disciplines, Driving, Dressage, and Jumping, the Show hosted a dedicated Medal Parade to celebrate the achievements of the equestrian Team GB athletes at this summer’s Olympic Games and European Championships.

Additional achievements were acknowledged across the course of the day, with the British Equestrian Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Carl Hester and British Dressage International Champions Trophy awarded to Charlotte Dujardin and her Tokyo 2020 Olympic mount Gio, as the highest placed British combination at this year’s championships.

The Services Jumping Championship was won by Sgt Charlotte Lee from the Police, riding Bermudez BDA, the only competitor to jump clear in the second round, with Dawn Weaver’s Ag Ch Galaxy’s Dream Summer winning the Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes Final.

DUJARDIN MAKES IT A DOUBLE

The FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle supported by Horse and Hound took centre stage for the evening performance. Great Britain’s Lara Butler set the standard in the first half of the field, producing a solid score of 76.305%. Butler, riding Kristjan, performed a well-executed test, including impeccable flying changes and piaffes, to music which had the crowd clapping along as she completed.

Germany’s Frederic Wandres, runner-up in last night’s FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, riding Duke of Britain FRH was the first to mount a challenge to Butler’s lead. Wandres demonstrated the qualities which have contributed to him being the current leader of the FEI Dressage World Cup Western European League to post an outstanding score of 80.260%.

British Tokyo 2020 team bronze medalist Lottie Fry capped a fantastic year, posting an outstanding score of 81.945 to take over the lead. Riding the 13-year-old gelding, Dark Legend, Fry started strongly with a piaffe passage and despite scoring slightly lower in the middle section, finished well to put the pressure on the final two riders.

Last to go, Charlotte Dujardin, is not one to shy away from pressure, and once again proved why she is Great Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian. Aboard Gio, her Tokyo mount, Dujardin rode her Olympic Freestyle test for just the third time, demonstrating quality in abundance, with each movement perfectly in time to the music. She was rewarded by a phenomenal score of 89.040 to take her fifth London International Horse Show FEI World Cup Freestyle victory, with teammate Fry in second and Wandres in third.

Watching from the crowd, mentor and British teammate, Carl Hester, said: “It’s an amazing score and he’s an amazing horse who gives his all; they thoroughly deserve it. The programme is extremely difficult as you could see. It’s a little bit disturbing when you watch somebody so good and a horse that’s so good that you don’t realise how difficult the movements that she’s doing are, because she spins together these incredible movements and the horse just responds so beautifully, so I’m not surprised at the score.”

Dujardin added: “I’ve just finished off the most incredible year in the best way possible. He truly is a very special horse; his very first Olympics, his very first Europeans, and now he’s just finished the year off winning the World Cup here at The London International Horse Show – what a legend. There’s nothing like riding in front of your home crowd, having them cheering you on. I’ve really missed everyone and I would like to thank everyone for coming and supporting.”

EXELL EXCELS AT THE EXCEL

The first leg of the FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International was won by Boyd Exell, a regular winner here in London. The Australian’s masterful display of horsemanship was over seven seconds fast than the runner-up, Koos de Ronde from The Netherlands, in the drive-off, with Dries Degrieck back in third.

The five-time World Four-in-Hand champion and nine-time FEI World Cup Driving Champion was already looking forward to the final leg: “Statistically, Koos [De Ronde] and Ijsbrand [Chardon] are the biggest threats. Ijsbrand was a little bit off the pace today; however, previously he’s been off the pace the first day and much better the second, and often can win the final, so he’s definitely one to watch out for. He does have a little bit more to do than usual, but tomorrow is another day, so let’s wait and see.”

Exell continued, “This new venue is amazing; it’s brilliant for the horses. There’s loads of space, brand new stables, everything for us as competitors is fantastic. Obviously, the Olympia building in the evenings was a lovely setting, but as a sport, we have to evolve and progress, and this facility has the opportunity to do that.”

GREAT BRITAIN DOMINATES ON DAY TWO

The opening CSI5* contest of the day was a two-phase competition whereby all those clear over the first seven fences went on to the second phase against the clock. The first to mount a challenge, Great Britain’s John Whitaker, a legend of the sport, laid down the gauntlet as fifth to go, riding Green Grass. The 66-year-old demonstrated why he is still at the top of the sport, with an extremely tight and fast second phase, jumping clear in 27.16 seconds. Those who followed failed to match Whitaker. Compatriot Sameh El Dahan aboard WKD Toronto came close, posting a time of 28.41 seconds to go into second, and Frenchman Mathieu Billot, as last to go, looked to put Whitaker’s lead under threat, but could only manage enough for third.

The Champagne Taittinger Ivy Stakes was awarded to Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Harry Charles, riding Borsato. 10 combinations went forward to the jump-off, with Great Britain’s talented young rider Jack Whitaker paving the way. Whitaker meant business from the start, jumping an impressive clear in a time of 35.98 seconds to set the standard. Germany’s Marcus Ehning survived a rub at the penultimate fence to take over pole position at the midway point, shaving 0.83 seconds off Whitaker’s time; however, it was Harry Charles who had the crowd on its feet as he made all the moves to take the lead with just three to go. Charles’ target of 34.07 seconds proved impossible to beat, as those who followed, including dual winner Martin Fuchs, incurred penalties in their attempts to match the pace required.

A delighted Charles said: “I was actually quite shocked when I finished, as I didn’t realise I was that much quicker than him [Marcus Ehning]. It’s not every day you can be that much quicker than Marcus. I thought the jump-off went quite well; in places I thought I was a little bit unsteady, but it all worked out in the end and I’m absolutely delighted.”

EQUESTRIAN TEAM GBR MEDAL PARADE

Ben Maher MBE and his Olympic gold medal-winning partner, Explosion W, led the celebratory medal parade featuring many of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic equestrian heroes. The parade provided fans with an opportunity to celebrate the exceptional performances from the summer, which also included a successful European Championships and Driving World Championship for Ponies. The medalists were joined in the arena by their owners and grooms, all pivotal to the successes achieved over the course of the year.

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com