GERMAN PARA-EQUESTRIAN DRIVERS REIGN SUPREME
7 September – German drivers dominated the 2010 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles at Breda, The Netherlands. Heiner Lehrter and Josef Sauerwald took individual gold and silver respectively and they joined up with Hubert Markett to also secure team gold.
At the previous World Championship in Greven two years ago, the Germans were beaten on their home soil by the Dutch. This time around however the tables were turned as the Germans were strongest on Dutch territory. The host nation took team silver, Great Britain won the bronze and defending double gold-medallist, Jacques Poppen from The Netherlands, earned individual bronze.
It was the first time the FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships took place at a regular international driving event, and this new formula turned out to be a great success. The atmosphere was wonderful and all competitors enjoyed the superb competition site at The Prinsenhoeve Estate in Breda. Every year this versatile venue hosts the only Nations Cup in Four-In-Hand Driving in The Netherlands, as well as an international driving competition for pony teams, an international eventing competition and the Dutch eventing Championships and national jumping and dressage competitions. The FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships was perfectly integrated into the Driving programme. Due of the limited number of competitors – 15 entries from 4 nations – it was decided to create one class including Grade 1 and Grade 2 drivers. Grade 2 drivers have greater functional ability than their Grade 1 counterparts.
World Championship Competitor
Heiner Lehrter has competed successfully in every World Para-Equestrian Driving Championship and is also a contender on the regular national driving circuit in Germany. He was determined to produce a good dressage result with his 15-year-old German Riding Pony Cholin S, and his road to glory began when he placed second in the dressage phase behind his compatriot Josef Sauerwald. Cholin S is a marathon specialist, so Lehrter was extremely pleased with his dressage score, and in the marathon Lehrter and his faithful steed set the fastest times in five of the six obstacles to take over the lead. Now with an advantage of 13 penalty points over Sauerwald in second place and 20 penalty points ahead of Jacques Poppen in third, the only thing he had to do was to drive the cones course without any big mistakes. The 49-year-old technical engineer from Mettingen did exactly that when knocking down just one ball to take his first World title.
Josef Sauerwald began his journey towards the medal podium when winning the dressage phase with his 10-year-old German Riding Pony, Don’t Confess. In their third World Championship together, this partnership produced their best-ever dressage test and all five international driving judges placed them first. They went into the marathon with an 11-point lead over Lehrter and Cholin S, and, knowing that this was not their strongest phase, Sauerwald was well-pleased with his second place after the first two stages. Winner of the individual bronze medal in Greven 2008, he was very happy to take silver this time around after completing a double-clear round in the cones.
After winning team and individual gold in 2008 with his Friesian mare Nienke, Jacques Poppen started looking for a good replacement to improve his dressage performance. Poppen, who is regularly trained by successful Dutch Pairs driver Riny Rutjens, started competing the 9-year-old KWPN gelding Uwald (v. Pronkjuweel) at the beginning of this season. Although the combination had some start-up problems and are still not yet completely a team, they finished third in both the dressage and the marathon. The potential of this combination was clearly evident on the final day when Poppen and Uwald won the obstacle driving competition with an impressive double-clear round to secure individual bronze medal and team silver for The Netherlands. The marathon, designed by Dutch World Championship course designer Johan Jacobs, included six challenging and technical obstacles. Jacobs designed eight obstacles for the pony teams and horse teams and successfully selected six obstacles for the Para-Equestrian competitors to drive.
HRH Princess Haya Hand-in-Hand Trophy
Every Para-Equestrian competitor in Breda partnered with a CAIO competitor to battle for the HRH Princess Haya Hand-in-Hand Trophy which is designed to promote the integration of Para-Equestrian and able-bodied in equestrian sport. The scores of both competitors in dressage, marathon and cones were combined to decide the winners, and the first HRH Princess Haya Hand-in-Hand Trophy in Driving was won by the German duo of Heiner Lehrter and Christoph Sandmann.
Heiner Lehrter (GER) Gold:
“I am very pleased that we were able to have our World Championship here in Breda, the atmosphere is wonderful. My biggest problem was always the dressage and I am more than happy that Cholin S did such a good job in this phase. The obstacles were tough, but Cholin was easy to drive.”
Josef Sauerwald (GER) Silver:
“Not just our team has won, but also our ponies have worked together with us. My pony stayed very cool throughout the competition and I must thank our trainer Ludger Schmin for helping us. I have never driven such a good dressage before. I know that the marathon is not my strongest point, so I was very pleased to finish this competition with a clear round in the cones.”
Jacques Poppen (NED) Bronze:
“I only had one goal in Breda and that was to defend my gold medal. I have thoroughly enjoyed competing here and to lose to a team which is so strong is OK. Uwald and I have been working together since the start of this season and we need to grow more together. I am pleased with my bronze medal, and I am already looking forward to the next World Championship!”
Final individual standings:
Gold – Heiner Lehrter (GER) Grade 1 113,66
Silver – Josef Sauerwald (GER) Grade 2 123,64
Bronze -Jacques Poppen (NED) Grade 1 130,35
4. Markus Beerhues (GER) Grade 1 145,24
5. Jan Ranzijn (NED) Grade 2 154,09
Final Nations Cup standings:
Gold – Germany (Heiner Lehrter, Hubert Markett and Josef Sauerwald) 237.3
Silver – The Netherlands (Jacques Poppen, Monique de Bruin and Jan Ranzijn) 271.9
Bronze – Great Britain (Deborah Daniel, Margaret Lipton and Lindsay Tyas) 346.9
HRH Princess Haya Hand in Hand Trophy
1. Heiner Lehrter – Christoph Sandmann (GER) 272,92
2. Jacques Poppen – Koos de Ronde (NED) 291,80
3. Jan Ranzijn – Mark Weusthof (NED) 292,15
Complete Results at this link: http://www.hoefnet.nl/en/home/site/uitslagen/a10beb7f0daa0f9dcde539fa56a7f35f.