Tag Archives: Boyd Exell

Henrik von Eckermann Wins Rolex Grand Prix on Final Day of Royal Windsor Horse Show

The closing day of the 76th edition of Royal Windsor Horse Show was blessed with clear blue skies and bright sun as final victories were secured for the top-class competitors.

The climax of the CSI5* Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix, went to Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann following a nail-biting jump-off. Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Shane Breen took the CSI5* Manama Rose Show Stakes title, and The ClipMyHorse.TV Under 25 Jumping Competition was won by Joseph Stockdale.

Her Majesty The Queen was present for the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett, which premiered at the Show this year. It was Australia’s Boyd Exell, fresh from his win in the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, who steered his way across the finish line in the fastest time of 158.83.

Lucy Aspell was crowned winner of the final Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National.

Packed crowds gathered at the Castle Arena for the pinnacle of the week’s action, The Rolex Grand Prix. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou emerged victorious to rapturous applause over course designer Bob Ellis’ challenging course, making a thrilling finale for the Show.

The track demanded bold and precise riding from the field of 34 combinations, including 15 of the world’s top twenty riders, contesting the €500,000 prize, the richest purse ever in UK Show Jumping. The tough course reduced the sensational calibre of talent down to 12 clear combinations to progress to the jump-off.

First to go in the deciding round was British rider William Funnell, whose homebred Billy Diamo demonstrated sheer skill and bravery to keep the partnership’s cool and secure the first double clear round. The pair set the tone for the rest of the competition, having made the decision to go for precision rather than pace, in a time of 47.58 seconds.

William Funnell commented: “It is fantastic, an amazing venue; the crowd was great. It really makes you want to do well. Billy Diamo is another super horse that we have bred; we hope he will qualify for the 2020 Olympics and this year we want to make sure he qualifies for the European Championships, because he is that type of horse.”

Next to go, and also waving the British flag, was Robert Whitaker and 16-year-old Catwalk IV. Despite a strong start the pair was unable to sustain a clear round as the fast pace led to an unlucky pole down, keeping Funnell at the top of the table.

Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet (Spike Van Der Withoeve), already a winner this week and hoping to replicate his success, was the first of several combinations to incur four faults at the Rolex oxer at the last. It was Frenchman Simon Delestre (Hermes Ryan) who was able to successfully challenge Funnell and knock him into second place. Delestre’s carefully navigated turns obtained a clear round in 45.07 seconds; although not the fastest over the ground yet, he was the quickest clear and into the lead. German riders Christian Ahlmann (Take A Chance On Me Z) and Daniel Deusser (Cornet 39) were likely contenders to challenge Delestre’s time. Both competitors were a real threat against the clock; however, they finished with four and eight faults, respectively, keeping Delestre in prime position with five riders to go.

Henrik von Eckermann wasted no time in shaving time off the clock with the 13-year-old mare Toveks Mary Lou. A tight turn into the penultimate fence and speed into the last oxer shaved over two seconds off Delestre’s time to finish on 43.02 seconds and snatch first place. With two to go, including two Olympic medallists, von Eckermann had confirmed a top three position but faced the toughest competition yet, leading to a nail-biting conclusion to the Rolex Grand Prix.

Eric Lamaze, who secured his place in the jump-off with great form, would no doubt be one of the strongest contenders for pace. However, the Canadian rider had a pole down at the second and the last fence with Chacco Kid. This meant the results of the competition were in the hands of Kent Farrington (USA), a two-time winner at Royal Windsor Horse Show, and Creedance.

The former World Number One and his chestnut gelding Creedance, seemed to be the likely winners as the pair presented one of the most striking rides of the jump-off, until an unexpected error at the last resulted in four faults to confirm von Eckermann the winner.

The victorious von Eckermann said: “Mary Lou is such a fantastic horse; she is so quiet at home but when she gets to shows, she really comes to life and gets very excited. She has a fantastic mind; she always helps me and really wants to make it; that’s what makes her such a special horse. I haven’t competed here for 10 years, so it is great to be back! The crowd was amazing, and I have really enjoyed my time at this event. I definitely hope to be back next year to defend the title!”

Bathed in glorious sunshine, the final day’s showing at Royal Windsor lifted the spirits of competitors, officials, and spectators alike, and saw several riders and owners achieve first-ever wins here in the Castle grounds.

In working hunter pony ranks — another prestigious feature of the show — the top spot went for the first time to Leyla Wheelright and her 143cm winner, Star Smokey, who jumped a superb round over a tricky course which claimed many notable scalps. This combination recently stood restricted champions at the British Show Pony Society winter championships.

The reserve award stayed in the same class, going to in-form Alice Homer, 17 — winner of the working show horse class earlier in the week — and Comberton Coda.

Cheshire-based showman Robert Walker, who clocked up four class wins and two championships on day one, received another red rosette when the Wallace family’s exciting large riding horse prospect, Southills The Sorcerer, headed a quality field.

The title, though, upset the formbook when Danielle Heath was called forward with the Mears family’s six-year-old novice champion, Times Square, pipping the super-consistent Casino and Jayne Ross. A seven-year-old show pony bought just two weeks ago gave veteran owner Gita Jago her first Royal Windsor open show pony title since 1992.

The final cones phase of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix was not without its changes of fortunes. In the Horse Four-in-Hand, serially successful Dutch driver, Ijsbrand Chardon, posted the first double clear, putting pressure on the five drivers ahead of him. In third place, his fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde, winner of the marathon, kept a cool head and collected the only other double clear to secure his position in the top three.

Lying second, expectations on Ijsbrand Chardon’s son, Bram – 2019 FEI World Cup™ Champion – were high but he unexpectedly clipped the marker to cones 19 as he made a turn earlier in the course. For this he collected 3 penalties and a 10-sec handicap which dropped him behind de Ronde.

With nine penalty points in hand, Boyd Exell from Australia drove a measured round, uncharacteristically knocking down two cones and collecting time faults. His final score, however, was sufficient to secure him his tenth title at Royal Windsor.

“It has been a hard-working few days,” Boyd remarked. “However, I’m very pleased with the new six-year-old in the team; he did all three phases, and this is only his second competition. This was his first cones course.”

The first class of the day, Pony Four-in-Hand, saw a dramatic change in the order. Lying fourth GB’s Roger Campbell delivered a double clear. The two competitors ahead of him at this time – Jaqueline Walter (GER) and Tinne Bax (BEL) – both made mistakes, dropping them behind Campbell. In first place, Jan de Boer, from the Netherlands, looking for his eighth win here, had 15+ penalties in hand at this stage. Sadly, it proved not enough and a difficult round for him and his Welsh ponies saw him drop behind Roger by less than one penalty point. This gave GB their first Pony Four-in-Hand win since 2000.

“My overwhelming emotion at the moment is surprise!” Campbell remarked. “I wouldn’t say the weekend went entirely to plan – I had a few problems in the dressage and then made some rein-handling mistakes in the marathon. Today, however, was excellent.”

This was GB’s first win in Pony Four-in-Hand for a number of years, but sadly Campbell, who is based in Germany, is unlikely to compete on home turf for the rest of the season, planning to attend events in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.

Double clear rounds eluded all Horse Pair competitors, with Germany claiming first and second place. Overnight leader, Sandro Koalick, competing here for the first time, retained his top spot with his young Dutch Warmbloods. At seven and eight years old, it is the first international season for one of them and the second for the other. His fellow countryman, 2017 winner here, Lars Schwitte, moved up to second place ahead of France’s Franck Grimonprez.

In the Nations competition, the Netherlands increased their lead to retain first place well clear of France, who moved ahead of third placed Belgium. Just three penalty points separated these two.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

An Exell-ent Day for the FEI Driving World Cup

FEI Driving World Cup™ Presented by Dodson & Horrell was won by Australia’s Boyd Exell in a gripping two round competition.

The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes was won by Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Cornet.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Archie Gubb riding Gruntness Inogee and the evening performance by Poppy Dadson riding Merkisayre Sea Duble.

The Kennel Club Large Senior Dog Agility Finals was won by multiple Olympia champion Natasha Wise and Pebbles.

Exell Sets the Standard Again

The world’s most outstanding four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell, crowned an exemplary week of Extreme and FEI World Cup™ driving competition with a win in the final round of the FEI Driving World Cup™ presented by Dodson & Horrell.

“I’m so pleased with my horses,” the Australian driver and trainer said. “Five years ago I had a superb team and I’ve spent the intervening years trying to replicate it. With the two new horses I’ve recently put in to the mix, I feel I’m really getting close. They just get faster and faster.”

Experienced Dutch driver Koos de Ronde, who has competed every year since driving became part of the Olympia programme, was Exell’s closest challenger after the first round, with Belgian Glenn Geerts in third place.

These three returned for a drive-off, which got off to a dramatic start when one of Geerts’ horses slipped turning to come off the bridge. Driving is a close-knit community and fellow competitors flew to help; happily, all four horses were up in moments and the Olympia crowd showed their appreciation by giving Geerts a standing ovation.

Quickly regaining his focus, de Ronde drove a proficient round, bettering his time but picking up a 4-second penalty. Exell again put his foot to the floor to drive his fourth clear round, knocking three seconds off his first-round time to take the victory and extend his lead in the rankings.

“Olympia was very brave to agree to stage this competition eight years ago, but it has been so well supported by Dodson & Horrell and Hugh and Karen Scott-Barrett. The drivers love it; it’s a highlight of the World Cup calendar and it’s an honour to be here.”

British competitor Daniel Naprous, whose stunt work can be seen in Wonder Woman, The Crown, and Peaky Blinders, has steadily improved his times during the week and finished fifth overall.

Cornet Hits a High Note

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the world number seven, set a fast pace in the jump-off of The Martin Collins Enterprises Christmas Tree Stakes to take the class on the 14-year-old grey Cornet, by the leading jumping sire Cornet Obolensky.

This class bucked the trend, with only four through to the jump-off. First to go, Deusser, who rides for Stephex Stables in Belgium, set a fast pace with a clear in 31.25 seconds. Simon Delestre for France on Conbelleza also left all the fences up but was fractionally slower in 32.07 seconds.

Maikel van der Vleuten was third for the Netherlands on Idi Utopia and William Funnell, who has now moved up to second place behind Geir Gulliksen in the Leading Rider of the Show rankings, was fourth on Billy Diamo.

“I expected there to be more clear rounds, but the track had lots of bends off corners and that seemed to be causing trouble,” explained Deusser, who will ride Cornet d’Amour in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix. “Cornet is one of my top horses, but sometimes it’s nice to drop him into a smaller height competition so that it’s easy for him.”

The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes

Earlier in the day, Shaunie Greig travelled all the way from Fife to add a win in The Voltaire Design Mince Pie Stakes to her list of prestigious 148cm victories. Riding Casino Royale VIII, she produced the sole double clear of the class.

Shaunie, 15, was the fifth of the six riders to go in the jump-off and, with no faultless performers before her, there was everything to play for.

“I was aiming for the win, so I needed to go clear, but not too crazy,” she said. “I had watched Purdi Digby [who was first to go] so I knew where to go on the course.”

Nicole Lockhead Anderson riding Gangnam Style ll finished second with a fence down.

Tribute to the Late Tim Stockdale

Saturday came to a moving close with the Whitaker family’s annual presentation of the Ryan’s Son Trophy for services to the sport. This year, with many of his colleagues looking on, it was presented posthumously to Tim Stockdale whose wife Laura and sons Joe and Mark were there to collect it.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

McCoy and His Boys Prove They’re the Real Deal

An eager crowd was treated to an action-packed fifth day at Olympia, The London International Horse Show. The first Show Jumping competition of the day saw 18-year-old Robert Murphy produce a sublime performance going double-clear and securing a memorable victory in The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship Final. A faultless Boyd Exell was once again on majestic form, finishing just under 30 seconds ahead of eventual second-placed Driver, Belgian Glenn Geerts. British riders dominated The Keith Prowse Father Christmas Stakes, with William Whitaker, William Funnell, Ben Maher, and Guy Williams taking the top four places, respectively.

In a first for Olympia Horse Show, a team of five top-class female jockeys took on their male counterparts in the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund – a fast and furious Show Jumping team relay competition. The Boys’ Team – with stand-out rides from Richard “Dickie” Johnson and Jim Crowley – did just enough to beat the Girls’ Team by a combined time of little under eight seconds, while Girls’ Team captain Bridget Andrews earned a consolation winning the prize for the quickest round.

The evening drew to a close with The Longines Christmas Cracker. Out of a field of 28 competitors, 13 jumped a clear first round and progressed to the jump-off, which then saw a further six pairs jump double clear. While Holly Smith (Claddagh Iroko) and Laura Kraut (Confu) put themselves firmly in contention, it was Robert Whitaker and his nine-year-old bay mare El Wee Widge who rose to the occasion, crossing the finish line in an unbeatable time of 34.51 seconds.

Jenny Kimber and Rogue took the honours in The Kennel Club Large Novice Dog Agility Finals on the third evening of canine competition at Olympia. After a fantastic qualifying round win, Naarah Cuddy and Lemon were last to run in the Final. The pressure was on for the pair to beat a fast and accurate round set by Jenny Kimber and Rogue, but an unfortunate early fault dashed their title hopes. The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Zak Kent and Briar Smokey Joe, while the evening performance was won by Lucy Aspell and Magheradartin Beeswax.

Jockeys Go Flat Out for Charity

The Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) proved a huge crowd pleaser when, for the first time, five female jockeys, including recent big-race winner Bryony Frost, took on their male counterparts against the clock over the coloured poles in the unfamiliar environment of a densely packed indoor arena.

The fiercely competitive Boys’ Team, trained by Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton and captained by 20-time champion Sir “AP” McCoy with champion jockeys Richard Johnston and Ryan Moore, were victorious with a collective time of 151.16 seconds against the girls’ 159.11, but it was Bridget Andrews who was fastest of all, upholding female honour with the prize for the quickest round, in 33.88 seconds.

Her fiancé, Harry Skelton, caused great hilarity when, last to go for the Boys’ Team and riding one of Laura Kraut’s jumpers, he suffered tack malfunction when the hackamore bridle ended up around the horse’s ears. Not to be defeated, he set off again, after some hasty repairs with a cable tie, but the same thing happened so he borrowed a teammate’s horse.

However, Harry had to settle for the third fastest time of 35.85 seconds behind flat jockey Jim Crowley. “The wedding’s still on,” announced commentator Clare Balding. Harry promised: “We’ll be back next year – with better tack.”

The jockeys were clearly thoroughly enjoying their Christmas party, but IJF president AP was quick to thank Olympia for giving the charity this great fund-raising platform. Next year, a third rehabilitation centre, named after the late commentator Sir Peter O’ Sullevan, will open in Newmarket.

Exell Is in the Driving Seat

Boyd Exell, the reigning world champion in Carriage Driving, laid down the strongest possible marker for the final of the FEI Driving World Cup™ leg, presented by Dodson & Horrell, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

In a display that left spectators breathless, the defending champion, who is competing here on a wild card, was second into the arena behind British hopeful Dan Naprous, who had driven a well-controlled clear round.

Exell, too, went clear but knocked 15 seconds off Naprous’s time and no one thereafter could come close; American driver Chester Weber suffered the disappointment of being eliminated for missing the first obstacle. Belgium’s Glenn Geerts claimed second place and the vastly experienced Koos de Ronde from the Netherlands was third.

In the drive-off between the first three, de Ronde bettered his first-round time but collected 12 seconds in penalties. Geerts also bettered his time, but his additional eight-second penalties gave the Australian maestro breathing space.

However, he had no need of it. In an electrifying drive, he knocked eight seconds off his first round time to romp into first place, 30 seconds ahead of Geerts and de Ronde.

“I’ve put two new horses into my team – one in the lead and one in the wheel – and they’ve moved the speed up like you cannot believe,” Exell explained. “They were machines today – I could not be more pleased with them, although, of course, tomorrow is the all-important competition.”

There was a great boost for British driving when Naprous, who was also previously performing at Olympia as leader of the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Display Team, was the only other driver to go clear – he only missed the drive-off by two seconds.

Robert Whitaker Produces a Christmas Cracker

An Olympia victory was just what the doctor ordered when, two weeks after having his appendix removed, Robert Whitaker produced a masterful performance in a 13-horse jump-off for Friday’s main class, The Longines Christmas Cracker.

His winning mount was the relatively inexperienced nine-year-old El Wee Widge, owned by his uncle, Michael Whitaker.

“I just said to Michael: ‘I’m going to have a bit of a go’ as the horse likes to go forward,” said Robert, who took over the ride when his uncle was injured, finishing second in a major class at Oslo Show. “I went to Michael and said that I was really short of horses and he kindly let me have El Wee Widge.”

Laura Kraut, a world team gold medallist this year, came closest to catching Robert – she was just 0.4 seconds slower on the grey Confu, beating young British rider Holly Smith on Claddagh Iroko by a mere 10th of a second.

Keeping it in the family, Robert’s father John had the crowd roaring in excitement, but he lost time trying to keep the mare Leen O.L. on her line and had to settle for fourth place.

Earlier, to the delight of the packed home crowd, Robert’s cousin, William Whitaker, riding Lammy Beach, topped a British one-two-three-four in the Keith Prowse Father Christmas Stakes, an accumulator class against the clock. A final tricky joker fence gives double points if jumped cleanly, but is double the penalty if knocked down.

“It’s like you’re riding in a speed class, but then have that big last fence to think about,” explained William, who represented Britain at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ this year. “I had a lot of quick ones to come after me so I had to take a few risks and got away with it. I wanted one stride less to one fence, and I didn’t get it, so I knew I had left some room for others to catch me.”

The buzzing atmosphere suited the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding. “The closeness of the crowd doesn’t suit some horses, but it really makes him light up,” said William. “I am really happy with this horse and it is a real privilege to ride here.”

With two more days to go, Norway’s Geir Gulliksen is currently Leading Rider of the Show with five placings, pushing Darragh Kenny from Ireland into second. William Funnell, who has been runner-up three times, is third.

Robert Murphy and Chablis Are the Toast

The Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championship Final ended on a thrilling high note when, last to go in an eight-horse jump-off, 18-year-old Robert Murphy rode an audacious round on Newbridges Chablis to overhaul the brilliant early target set by Harry Charles, 21, on Vivaldi du Dom.

This prestigious class, which has been won by the likes of Scott Brash and Jessica Mendoza, gets stronger every year, the bulk of the field being represented by the talented sons and daughters of such well-known horsemen such as Michael Whitaker, Graham Fletcher, Mike Saywell, Duncan Inglis, Peter Charles, the late Tim Stockdale, and Badminton Horse Trials course-designer Eric Winter.

Robert, the son of former leading jumper Peter Murphy, set a scorching pace, confidently taking out strides and turning on a sixpence, to snatch the win from Harry by 0.5 seconds.

“There were a few options, but you had to take risks – I tried to mimic Harry’s round,” explained Robert, who was presented with the Tim Stockdale Trophy in memory of the much-loved rider who died last month.

Last year, Newbridges Chablis hit three fences, but Robert, whose aim for 2019 is to get into the Young Rider team, explained: “He’s quite a sensitive horse and he didn’t settle well in the stable, but he’s had some more mileage since then and things were quite different this time.”

Eight riders went through to the jump-off. Jodie Hall McAteer’s spirited challenge on Fantom, clear in 31.1 seconds, was good enough for third place behind Charles, whose brilliant year continues.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Breen Swoops to Claim the Ivy Stakes

The crowds on day four of Olympia, The London International Horse Show were treated to some exhilarating Driving and Show Jumping performances, breathtaking displays from Santi Serra, La Garde Républicaine, The Kennel Club Dog Agility, and the Shetland Ponies, while more than 40 junior and senior medallists from Equestrian Team GBR took part in a very special parade in the Grand Hall.

Australian Boyd Exell demonstrated to Olympia’s admiring crowd precisely why he is the current and five-time world champion for four-in-hand Driving, putting on a masterful display in the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving – Top Score. Exell navigated the Johan Jacob-designed course with aplomb, completing the first round fault-free and more than 13 seconds ahead of his closest challengers, Dutchman Koos de Ronde and Belgian Edouard Simonet. With Simonet and de Ronde accruing four and eight-second penalties respectively in the drive-off, Exell showed his class, cruising over the finish line 10 seconds ahead of eventual second-placed driver Simonet.

The final event of the evening, The Ivy Stakes sponsored by Champagne Taittinger, proved to be a star-studded event, with six of the world’s top-10 ranked Show Jumpers vying for victory. But it was Irishman Shane Breen – currently 55th in the world rankings – who took the spoils. With 15 horse and rider combinations successfully navigating the Bernardo Costa Cabral-designed course and progressing to the jump-off, it was Breen who ultimately excelled, effortlessly steering his 13-year-old chestnut stallion fault-free around the demanding jump-off course in an unbeatable time of 33.41 seconds. Hot on Breen’s heels was Swiss maestro Steve Guerdat (Corbinian), who slotted into second spot just half a second off the pace, while third placed Norwegian Geir Gulliksen (Gin Chin van het Lindenhof) was a further second back.

This Kennel Club Medium Dog Agility Finals was won by Dawn Weaver from Dorset and her dog, Vegas, with the pair putting in the fastest clear round of the evening. Judge Martin Cavill put handlers through their paces resulting in only two dogs making it around the course without faults.

The afternoon performance of the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National was won by Lucas Murphy and Shelcroft Buttercup, while the evening performance was won by Daisy Harrop and Cranford Fantastic.

The Olympia Senior Showing Series Championships sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers saw Alice Stratton and the 17-year-old Welsh Section B Laithehill Pasha – last year’s in-hand winners in the Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd Grand Final sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance Brokers – take the title in the under saddle final. Claire Langman’s ex-racehorse, New Team, won the in-hand class.

Boyd Exell Puts On a Show

The crowd was treated to a spectacular start to the afternoon performance when Boyd Exell from Australia put on a masterclass in four-in-hand skills in the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving – Top Score, which determines the order of go in the World Cup competition. Exell, the reigning World Cup champion, was last to go of the seven contestants from six nations and finished the first round with 13 seconds in hand.

Second at this stage was the experienced Dutch competitor, Koos de Ronde, but his outstandingly fast round unfortunately included four knockdowns to add 16 seconds to his time. In third was young Belgian driver Edouard Simonet, a team and individual bronze medallist at the FEI World Equestrian Games™, who also went clear.

In the drive-off, Simonet and de Ronde both picked up penalties to reverse their positions. Exell again drove surely and cleanly until the very end where he picked up a four-second penalty, but he still cruised home 10 seconds ahead of Simonet.

The fast course set by Dutch designer Johan Jacob featured a new four-way crossing on the bridge with the start and finish occurring here. Newly designed elements in the obstacles gave a lighter appearance to the course and made for good viewing.

Britain’s Dan Naprous, who heads up the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Team, experienced early difficulties, as did the USA’s Chester Weber, the world silver medallist.

Hawk Swoops to Conquer

Shane Breen gave a masterclass in cool-headed speed jumping to win Thursday’s main class, The Ivy Stakes sponsored by Champagne Taittinger, at Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

Breen, riding the 13-year-old Golden Hawk, was first to go in a marathon 15-horse jump-off, but no one could match his clear in 33.41 seconds, and the run of Irish luck continued after compatriot Darragh Kenny’s double.

In an international line-up, the 2012 Olympic champion Steve Guerdat finished second for Switzerland, 0.5 seconds in arrears on Corbinian. Geir Gulliksen was third for Norway on Gin Chin van het Lindenhof, formerly the ride of Ireland’s Bertram Allen, and riders from Portugal, France, and the Netherlands filled the next four places with Ben Maher the best Brit in eighth place.

Amazingly, this is Breen’s first full week at Olympia (he has competed in the Puissance before) and he revealed that the victory had cost him four watches – thinking it unlikely, he promised four children that he would buy them one each if he was successful.

“It looked a tricky enough jump-off course, but the horse got in a nice rhythm and it came my way,” said Breen.

The Gulliksen family have been long supporters of Olympia, so a first win for 22-year-old Johann-Sebastien Gulliksen in the Christmas Stocking Six Bar proved popular.

Four riders made it through to the fourth round, at 1.90m, but Gulliksen, riding the 13-year-old Arakorn, was the only one to go clear, as Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts (H & M Extra) withdrew, Britain’s William Whitaker (Fandango) hit a fence, and Italy’s Luca Maria Moneta on a spooky Centimo retired after a refusal.

Gulliksen, who has been accompanying his father, Geir, to Olympia since a small child, said his horse had jumped 1.95m in Madrid a few weeks ago. “He really tries his best. It’s unbelievable to win here at Olympia. The crowd really gives you an emotional feeling.”

German Olympic rider Christian Ahlmann had a pleasant surprise in The Shelley Ashman International Shipping Ltd, E M Rogers (Transport) Ltd Snowflake Stakes when a horse that has only been jumping for a year carried him to victory in this speed class.

Atomic Z, a breeding stallion until last year, lacks the ring experience of other horses, but showed just how quick a learner he is when his round was fast enough to beat Britain’s William Funnell (Billy Angelo) by two seconds.

“It wasn’t planned at all,” said Ahlmann, “but when I went in, he felt so good that I went a bit quicker, and then a bit quicker still, because he is very flexible.”

Darragh Kenny is currently Leading Rider of the Show, with Geir Gulliksen second, Dutchman Doron Kuipers third, and William Funnell fourth.

A major highlight of the evening was the parade of British team medallists – British teams combined to bring back 24 championship medals this summer – headed by the gold medal eventing team. Individual world champion Ros Canter was presented with the BEF Medal of Honour, along with carriage driver Jill Holah and Para-Dressage selector Waveney Luke.

Tickets can be purchased at www.olympiahorseshow.com or by telephone on 0844 995 0995.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Exell Wins Individual Gold as Team USA’s Golden Victory Thrills Home Crowd

Australia’s Boyd Exell (FEI / Liz Gregg)

On a day when the home nation USA secured a stunning victory in the Polaris Ranger driving team competition to round off a triumphant FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG), Australian driver Boyd Exell proved he remains in a league of his own by securing a third successive individual WEG gold medal.

Despite the valiant efforts of crowd favourite Chester Weber, who showed icy composure to drive his team to gold and also grab individual silver, no one was able to rival Exell from the moment he entered the dressage arena on day one.

First in the dressage, third in the marathon stage despite driving with broken brakes, and second in the closing cones phase, Exell finished with an overall score of 154.14, almost 10 points clear of Weber. Edouard Simonet, the 29-year-old Belgian who was once a back-stepper for Exell, took the bronze medal with a final score of 174.15.

“I love training horses. It is a relief to win, I have a huge team of people who have been with me 20 years.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Weber, who also finished second to Exell at the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France, was overjoyed to take an unexpected team title in front of a raucous North Carolina crowd.

“I can tell you it was a surprise. I thought we came here with a chance of a medal but if you had asked me if I was going to have a bet on whether we were going to be world champions, I would have said I am not sure,” said Weber, whose USA team finished with a winning score of 353.39.

Teammate James Fairclough, who introduced Weber to the sport as a 13-year-old, already has an eye on the future after the USA beat the Netherlands, the 2010 and 2014 champions, into second and Belgium into third.

“I hope it’s going to inspire a lot of people to come forward and try the sport. It’s a great boost for us,” Fairclough said.

Basking in the glow of winning a WEG bronze medal to go with their 2017 European team bronze, the Belgium team also served notice of their intention to change driving’s established order.

“We are the future not only of Belgium driving but of international driving,” said Glenn Geerts, who like individual bronze medal winner Simonet is 29 years old, while Dries Degrieck, the third member of the team, is just 23.

In comparison, traditional powerhouses the Netherlands finished Tryon 2018 lamenting unexpectedly poor marathon performances from their often all-conquering father and son duo Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon.

The pair did come out firing on the final day, with 25-year-old Bram Chardon producing the only double clear round. But it was not enough to deliver a third successive team gold.

“We wanted to get our spot back; that spot was meant for us,” said a dejected Bram Chardon.

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

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

Brakes Off but Pressure Was On for Untouchable Aussie Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell with his carriage of horses Celviro, Checkmate, Daphne, and Zindgraaf. (FEI / Christophe Taniere)

Not even broken brakes could prevent Boyd Exell (AUS) from tightening his grip towards a third successive individual gold medal as the Polaris Ranger driving marathon test delighted the packed crowds at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG).

The Netherlands’ notorious marathon specialist Koos De Ronde won the day with his score of 117.28 points, helping him jump 10 places in the overall individual standings to sit fourth with just the cones test to come. But nothing could stop the relentless Exell from once again grabbing the headlines.

The Australian noticed early on that his braking system was compromised and yet still the 2010 and 2014 WEG Individual champion managed to get round the Richard Nicol-designed course in a score of 121.93, the third best of the day. That was enough to extend his overall lead to 7.00 points over second-placed Chester Weber.

“It caused a problem in hazard one; we came in hot because there is a big long gallop into gate A and we drifted too wide and they (the horses) looked to the left rather than being able to square up the turn – that was a bit disappointing hazard one, gate A, first mistake,” Exell said, with a wry smile.

“Hazards three, four and five are all up and down dips, so the reins were around my head one moment and then on the floor and then round my neck. But we fought. We didn’t give up; we kept fighting all the way.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Home favourite Weber kept up the pressure on the all-conquering Australian with a controlled display, backed up by an intricately planned strategy designed to combat the searing heat and humidity.

“We have done a lot of studying of lactate levels and heart rates to try and get the horses ready for this,” Weber explained. “When the temperatures get hotter, the heart rates get higher and lactates grow. We trained them at home (Florida, USA) with gallop sets – you can actually train them to drop their heart rate.”

Hitting his pre-planned targets all the way round, Weber brought home his carriage in 125.51, the fifth best score of the day. The 29-year-old Belgian Edouard Simonet sits just behind him in the overall standings, after adding a confident marathon drive to his solid dressage score.

A protégée of Boyd Exell’s, Simonet is a real threat to the big two with his favoured cones test to come.

“I love the game, so let’s play tomorrow,” Simonet said.

Dutchman De Ronde’s magnificent drive saved what was otherwise a disastrous day for the men in orange. Father and son Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon both made significant, uncharacteristic errors dropping the Dutch, winner of the team competition in 2010 and 2014, down to third in the standings. Team USA leads on 338.55 points, more than 15 points clear of Team Belgium.

“It was terrible. It’s a big disappointment for us both but eventually it will make you stronger and for now we have to keep the team together,” said Bram Chardon. The 25-year-old was 18th quickest on the day with his father just two places better off.

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

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

Superb Dressage Display Puts Peerless Exell in Control

Boyd Exell with his dream team of horses, Carlos, Celviro, Checkmate, and Zindgraaf. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Australian Boyd Exell produced a driving dressage masterclass at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG) backed by a team of horses he rates as his “best ever” as he took a giant step towards claiming his third successive individual gold medal.

The man who has dominated driving for much of the past decade shook off the lingering effects of breaking his ankle in July, finished with a score of 31.68, putting him 3.42 points clear of the USA’s Chester Weber. For Exell it was his greatest dressage performance to date.

“In Kentucky in 2010 I did a 30 and the crazy thing is that was a beautiful test but we did not have the same power and movement of this team,” said Exell, who has seven FEI World Cup™ driving titles to his name.

“Even when the crowd cheered on the way in, which some horses don’t like, I could just feel my team power up. It was like turning a V8 engine into a V10.” — Boyd Exell (Australia)

Fierce rival Weber, who finished second to Exell at the 2014 WEG in Normandy, entered the arena with the crowd still cheering the two-time champion.

“That was sort of motivating for me, to be honest,” Weber said. “I sort of shook my head like a prize fighter and said to myself ‘c’mon’.”

It worked with a particularly fine rein-back among the highlights as Weber delighted the crowd yet further and finished with 35.10 points.

The Dutch veteran Ijsbrand Chardon, winner of the prestigious Aachen Championships this year, showed all his undoubted class and skill to grab third with a score of 41.06 in what is his weakest discipline. The five-time WEG team champion and 2002 individual gold medallist was the last of the 19 drivers to enter the arena, not that he minded.

“I was fairly relaxed, last driver is the best position. I saw Boyd’s and Chester’s points but then it was very important I made my performance,” Chardon said, before he admitted he might require some help to catch the leader.  “Boyd I need to make a big mistake – 10 points is too much. Six points to Chester is possible.”

A strong performance from Ijsbrand’s 25-year-old son Bram Chardon helped the Netherlands claim second place in the team competition. But the 2010 and 2014 WEG team champions are facing a real battle to hold onto their title.

Led by Weber and boosted by a beautifully controlled performance from dressage specialist Misdee Wrigley-Miller, who scored 42.00 and lies fourth in the individual standings, the USA will take a 10.33 point lead into Saturday’s marathon phase.

“Everyone has been telling me it is just another competition and not to worry about it,” laughed Wrigley-Miller. “But when I came into the arena it was like ‘ooomph’ – the weight of the world fell on my shoulders.”

Click here for full results.

By Luke Norman

Media contact:

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

Champions Crowned at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show

The final day of Royal Windsor Horse Show provided top class sport and entertainment across the showground as the week’s Champions were crowned.

The pinnacle of the CSI5* Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix went to Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat after a gripping jump-off, featuring some of the world’s best riders.

After a fantastic week of Showing action, which included wins for Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Championship went to Robert Walker and his Hunter Champion, View Point.

Her Majesty The Queen was present to watch the retirement of her homebred former racehorse, Barbers Shop, winner of the Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Championship in 2017, in an emotional ceremony in the Castle Arena.

SHOW JUMPING: A SPECIAL VICTORY FOR STEVE GUERDAT

A thrilling Rolex Grand Prix provided the perfect finale to Show Jumping at Royal Windsor, with the world’s best riders in action, all looking to claim the prestigious title and the €75,000 first prize.

A full field of 30 riders contested Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater’s up-to-height 1.60m course, which posed several challenges, with faults falling evenly throughout the course. 10 combinations jumped clear through to the jump-off, setting up an exciting climax.

Britain’s William Whitaker was the first to take on the shortened course, jumping a brilliant clear round to put the pressure on. Cousin Robert Whitaker followed and showed that the time could be beaten, but was the first of several combinations to incur four faults at the Rolex oxer at the last.

Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) put in a physical display of riding to push Caspar 232 on between fences and take the lead with an impressive time of 44.31; however, it was Laura Kraut (USA) with new ride Catwalk 22 who lay down the gauntlet to the remainder of the field, knocking 0.79 seconds off Gaudiano’s time. Kraut, who has only had the ride on the eleven-year-old Catwalk 22 for three weeks, showed her brilliance, making slightly wider turns, which allowed a smooth and fast-paced round to take the lead.

With four left to go, including two Olympic champions and the reigning European champion, it was a nail-biting conclusion, and it was Steve Guerdat (SUI) with his consistent mare Bianca who managed to pip Kraut to the post with a relentless pace and quick turnbacks to shave another 0.41 seconds off the time, finishing in a time of 43.11. Canada’s Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5, one of the fastest combinations on the international circuit looked like he had the class in the bag as last to go, crossing the line in a time of 41.82, but was another to succumb to the final fence, finishing on four faults.

Celebrating his victory, Guerdat, who last competed at Windsor at the European Championships in 2009, where he won team gold, said, “Windsor has been a good place for me. I had a really good feeling coming in to today. Bianca has been jumping really good and gaining experience and she felt really fresh and happy to jump this week. It might sound crazy, as amazing as she is, but this is the first class we have won together, so I’m really pleased for he; she really deserves it; it’s very special.”

Earlier in the day, there was a British victory in the Palm Speed Stakes, with Robert Smith taking the win riding the eleven-year-old grey gelding Cimano E.

As second to go, compatriot William Whitaker set the standard aboard Lammy Beach, however his lead was short-lived as Wilm Vermeir (BEL), already a winner this week, shaved 0.2 seconds off his time to take over the top spot. Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano, always a threat against the clock, wasted no time from the start, making an exceptionally tight turn to the final line to go faster still, posting a time of 54.87 aboard the nine-year-old Einstein.

With a strong field to follow, the pressure was on to post a fast time, which resulted in a few mistakes as riders chased the leading time. Robert Smith negotiated the twisty track brilliantly, moving quickly across the ground and making the tightest of turns throughout to set the new pace with a time of 54.01, over half-a-second faster than Gaudiano. Smith’s time proved unbeatable, Frenchman Olivier Robert gave it his best shot, making a new move inside an oxer to number eight, but his effort was only good enough for third position.

Speaking after the class, Smith said, “It’s always great to have a home win, but the Show here at Windsor is as good as anywhere in the world and it’s always top-class competition. The classes this week have all been fast and very competitive, so it’s not easy to get in the money, so I’m really pleased to be going home with a win.”

DRIVING: A NINTH VICTORY FOR EXELL

The world’s number one horse four-in-hand driver, Boyd Exell from Australia, showed yet again why he has held this title consistently over the last decade. He steered his team of black horses – three Gelderlanders and an Oldenburg mare – to his ninth CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix victory at Royal Windsor Horse Show.

With nearly 20 penalties in hand after the marathon, the result seemed never in doubt, but the cones course still has to be driven and course designer, Johan Jacobs from the Netherlands, had set a course that presented a strong challenge to all drivers. Last to go, Exell had one ball down and collected 0.33 time penalties but he remained the comfortable and much applauded winner.

Edouard Simonet from Belgium, a protegee of Exell’s and winner of the marathon section here last year, retained the second place which he had claimed after the marathon, his team of black Arab cross Friesians looking ever more confident. Third place – and an outstanding result – went to Bram Chardon, the 25-year-old son of Ijsbrand Chardon, the Netherlands’ leading driver over two decades; he moved ahead of his father in the cones phase at this, his Royal Windsor debut in horse four-in-hands.

Switzerland’s Beat Schenk, leader after the marathon phase, retained his winning position in horse pairs, to record his fourth Royal Windsor victory. The ten-time Swiss champion pairs a black German-bred horse with a grey Lippizaner; with them he also took the bronze medal at last year’s World Horse Pairs Championship at Lipica, Slovenia. Germany claimed second and third places in this class with Sebastian Warneck and Dennis Schneiders, moving up from third and fifth, respectively.

In pony four-in-hands Great Britain’s hopes were high when young driver Roger Campbell’s excellent marathon put him into second place overall. In third place behind him, Tinne Bax from Belgium applied all possible pressure in the cones phase by posting the only double clear of the class. With less than one penalty between them, Roger could have neither driving nor time penalties; sadly, his one cone down dropped him to third. The winner was Jan de Boer, whose team of Welsh ponies rose to the occasion to give the Dutchman his seventh Royal Windsor victory.

SHOWING: ROBERT WALKER REIGNS SUPREME

Wednesday’s Hunter Champion, View Point ridden by Robert Walker, remained foot perfect in the electric Castle Arena in front of Her Majesty The Queen to become this year’s Royal Windsor Supreme Ridden Showing Champion. Sixteen of the week’s high-class champions came before judges Carl Hester MBE and Charlotte Dujardin CBE to select which stood out above the others.

Hester said: “We were looking for a correct type that looked easy to ride and covered the ground effortlessly.”

The reserve went to the reining Horse of the Year Show Supreme Pony, Lucy Richardson’s Welsh Section A gelding, Thistledown Van Der Vaart, ridden by her daughter Lilly and produced by Sharn Linney.

Earlier in the day, North Yorkshire-based William Pittendrigh jumped one of the few clear rounds to win the Intermediate Working Hunter Pony Championship, and a storming gallop clinched his first Royal Windsor title. His partner was his mother’s six-year-old Silver Lough. Reserve went to the class runner-up, Jodie Creighton, who traveled from Northern Ireland specially to compete at the prestigious event with her seven-year-old, Newmarket Alloy, earning the Royal International ticket as Silver Lough had already qualified.

Oli Hood floated away with the Riding Horse Championship sponsored by Mr and Mrs Phil Swallow for the second year running on Annabel Jenks’ stunning gelding Diamonds Are Forever, who triumphed here last year with Oli’s father Allister. When local rider Jayne Ross won the small class and stood reserve with Diane Stennett’s Casino, the result was an exact duplicate – not only of last year’s Royal International Horse Show, but also The Horse of The Year Show, where Diamonds Are Forever went on to stand Supreme Champion.

Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)203 176 0355
www.rwhs.co.uk

World’s Best Out in Force at Royal Windsor Horse Show

Her Majesty The Queen was present to watch the afternoon action in the Castle Arena, presenting several awards, including the Best Turned Out Trooper and The Challenge Cup and Queen’s Plate for the winners of the Land Rover Services Team Jumping.

Daniel Deusser continued his stellar Royal Windsor form to take the pinnacle of the day’s competition, The CSI5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes For The King’s Cup with Britain’s Guy Williams taking the evening’s Falcon Stakes, much to the delight of the home crowd.

In the Driving, a familiar face sits in pole position of the horse four-in-hand ahead of the cones phase, with eight-time Royal Windsor winner Boyd Exell occupying the top spot.

SHOW JUMPING: DEUSSER AND EQUITA MAKE IT TWO FROM TWO WHILE WILLIAMS POSTS A WIN FOR BRITAIN

Daniel Deusser and Equita Van T Zorgvliet made it two from two on their Royal Windsor debut, winning the feature class of the day The CSI5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes For The King’s Cup.

Bob Ellis and Kelvin Bywater’s 1.55m course posed several challenges in the first round, with a difficult line of two doubles catching several combinations out early on and a particularly spooky swan themed fence causing a few problems too. 10 of the 30 starters jumped clear to make it through to the competitive jump-off, which featured many of the world’s best riders.

First to go in the jump-off was the class winner from two years ago, Laura Kraut (USA), riding Catwalk 22, who jumped immaculately to set the standard with a clear round in a time of 38.99. Canada’s Tiffany Foster took over the pole position as fourth to go with a particularly tight turn to fence eight, the swans, to shave 1.87 seconds off Kraut’s time; however, her lead was short-lived as Britain’s Robert Whitaker rode an immaculate round, turning especially tight to the double down the final line to take over the top spot. Next into the arena, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze (CAN) showed that the time could be beaten, riding a very fast round, but the twelve-year-old gelding Chacco Kid clipped the vertical going into the final double to finish on four faults.

With two former world number one riders still to come, Whitaker’s lead was never secure, and Kent Farrington (USA) came close, his nimble chestnut gelding Creedance covering the ground quickly, but with slightly wider turns they finished 0.03 seconds slower. As last to go, Daniel Deusser, riding Equita Van T Zorgvliet, retained his top form, making all the turns and striding out between the fences to post an exceptional time of 35.51 and take the victory, lining up a meeting with Her Majesty The Queen, who presented The King’s Cup to the winner.

Speaking after the presentation, Deusser said, “It’s turning out to be a good show for me this week. I’m wondering why I haven’t been here before! I’m really happy with how it went today. I managed to make a couple of really tight turns, so I thought I was quick, but I knew Robert’s horse was big striding, so I couldn’t relax. The win is extra special as I will now get to meet the Queen, which is a great honour and I am really looking forward to it.”

The highlight of the evening performance, the CSI5* Falcon Stakes, provided top class entertainment with the world’s best riders back in action. Speed was a major factor from the start, with only 10 places available in the jump-off, it was only the fastest of the 16 clear rounds from the first round that made it through. The top ten then returned in reverse order, with the advantage falling to USA’s Laura Kraut as the fastest clear in round one to be the last to go in the jump-off.

Qualifying in tenth position, Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano was first to tackle the shortened jump-off course and put the pressure on from start, with his foot flat to the floor throughout and smooth tight turns posting a clear round in 35.75 seconds. Britain’s Scott Brash followed him into the arena and immediately took over the lead with an incredibly slick round, saving time with the tightest of turns, to record a time of 35.40. The lead changed several times before the end; first it was Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, who flew straight out of the gate, making up time across the ground to overtake Brash, with William Funnell (GBR) coming close too, but it was Britain’s Guy Williams as the penultimate to go, who took the victory. Riding the thirteen-year-old stallion Rouge De Ravel, Williams kept up the pace throughout and pulled off an exceptional turn to the Hermès vertical at the far end to make up 0.36 seconds on Guerdat.

Williams praised his horse following his victory. “He’s a really good horse and I know he’s fast, so with a good draw, I knew I was in with a chance. It’s always good to win on home soil and the crowd here tonight was fantastic, so it’s been a great night.”

SHOWING: PONIES TAKE TO THE FORE

India Till scooped the biggest prize of her career so far when her 128cm show pony, Rotherwood Rainmaker, landed the coveted Martin Collins Enterprises Show Pony Championship title, one of the most sought-after accolades on the pony Showing circuit.

After winning a strong class, the diminutive pair defied the rain to command the Castle Arena, prompting judge D Price Jones to comment: “We were looking for a quality pony that would carry a child safely and prettily. This pony does exactly that.”

A former Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) reserve with previous jockey Poppy Carter, the exquisite bay has introduced India to top flight showing, still produced by Poppy’s mother, Katy Carter.

Reserve went to the 148cm victors, Phoebe Price and her 2016 HOYS champion and last year’s HOYS class winner, Litton Enterprise, a 12-year-old produced by Julie Templeton.

The Novice Show Pony Championship title is equally sought-after. This year it fell to Robert Walker’s son Sam, who celebrated his 14th birthday five days earlier, with Julie Rucklidge’s homebred five-year-old 138cm class winner, Jackets Dynasty, also produced by Julie Templeton. The charming bay mare is following in illustrious footsteps, as both her dam, Jackets Maybee, and granddam Jackets Maysong won at Royal Windsor and went on to triumph at HOYS.

After some strong classes, the BSPS Mountain and Moorland Ridden Championship — and coveted ticket to the Heritage Finale at Olympia, The London International Horse Show in December — went to Becki Penny with Lynn Scott’s ultra-consistent homebred Welsh section C stallion, Lynuck The Showman.

Two Connemara ponies dominated the popular Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter Pony classes. Riverside Daffodil, owned and ridden by Renee Nichols, jumped a super round to head the exceeding 143cm division and stand champion, ahead of the exceeding 133cm but not exceeding 143cm class victor, Hearnesbrook New Moon, owned by Phyll Buxton and ridden by Ella Dalton.

DRIVING: EXELL EXCELS IN TRICKY CONDITIONS

In horse four-in-hands, the leader – reigning world champion and winner here eight times – Boyd Exell (AUS) drove surely and confidently in wet conditions, recording the fastest time in five of the obstacles. He won this section and increased his lead to an impressive 20 penalties. His closest challenger at this time is Belgium’s Edouard Simonet whose careful marathon – he was third in the phase – moved him into second place overall, from fifth after the dressage. Father and son competitors from the Netherlands, Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon, the latter competing in horse four-in-hands for the first time here, moved up the leader board to take third and fourth places, respectively, less than one penalty separating them.

Horse pairs saw a change in leader when second placed Beat Schenk from Switzerland moved up to first place ahead of France’s Franck Grimonprez, a member of France’s bronze medal winning team at the 2017 World Horse Pairs Championships in Slovenia. Germany’s Sebastian Warneck, a silver team medallist in Slovenia last year, moved up a place to third.

Positions changed, too, in pony four-in-hands. Overnight leader Tinne Bax (BEL) dropped from first place to third, while Great Britain’s young pony four-in-hand competitor, Roger Campbell, drove an outstanding marathon to win this section and secure him second place ahead of the cones phase. He is less than three penalties behind the new overnight leader Jan de Boer from the Netherlands, who has six previous wins at Royal Windsor with his team of Welsh ponies.

Tickets for Royal Windsor Horse Show are still available via www.rwhs.co.uk.

Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)203 176 0355

Seventh FEI World Cup Driving Title for Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell (FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

Lausanne (SUI), 26 February 2017 – After a breath taking competition at the renowned Gothenburg Horse Show in Sweden, Boyd Exell (AUS) won the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final for the seventh time in his career. The silver went well deserved to Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) who was the winner the day before. Koos de Ronde (NED) took home the bronze.

Level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs (NED) had laid out a technical course with three obstacles and a brand new bridge, which suited most of the drivers. It was Jacobs’ first time as Course Designer at an FEI World Cup ™ Driving Final and his goal was to see controlled speed, which worked out well in the course.

After Competition 1 on Saturday, the drivers carried 50% of the time difference in seconds between the winner and themselves forward into the Final.

Boyd Exell had to make up 1,74 seconds to Jérôme Voutaz and decided to change his route to avoid making any mistakes like he had done the day before: “Today I was more focused; I drove better. My horses were just as good as yesterday. It is always difficult to deliver a good round, but today it went really well.” After the first round, Boyd had an advantage of a little over four seconds to Jérôme, so he was the last man in. The Winning Round took place over a shortened course and Boyd drove fast and clear, securing his seventh World Cup title and the second one in Gothenburg. Boyd won his first ever Final in the Scandinavium in 2009.

Jérôme Voutaz was not amongst the top favourites before the Final but that changed quickly when he drove an impeccable round in Competition 1. Jérôme had never won a World Cup round before and was very pleased, but also felt the pressure of being the last starter in the first round of the Final. Jérôme turned his team of Freiberger horses very tight around the obstacles and set a good time. Unfortunately, one knock down prevented him from widening the gap with third placed Koos de Ronde. Before the winning round, the difference between De Ronde and Voutaz was only 0,53 seconds, but De Ronde knocked two balls down which gave Voutaz some air: “I was very pleased with my rounds and happy to be able to keep the pressure on. But I made a few mistakes with my rein handling, so I know I can be a little faster still; there is more to win with this team!” The Swiss auto mechanic is an amateur driver and used three of his outdoor horses, amongst which two dressage horses and a marathon horse, in his team.

Koos de Ronde used a different horse in the lead of his team Saturday and decided to change back to his regular team for the Final. Koos was now able to change gear all the time and had a better feeling. Unfortunately he had two balls down, but because he put the throttle on after his second mistake, he qualified for the Winning Round: “The first ball was my mistake, but I was happy to be in the Winning Round. I didn’t expect that after two mistakes. I then knew I had to drive fast in order to win, so I took some risks and I had two balls down again. I was hoping for a podium place before the Final and I am pleased that I made it, despite the mistakes.”

Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) finished in fourth place, driving a team he had just put together for this Final, including two new horses. Dobrovitz drove clear, but his time just wasn’t fast enough to enter the Top Three.

Title defender IJsbrand Chardon (NED) had bad luck in Competition 1 where he knocked three balls down. Chardon had to make up over seven seconds to Voutaz and even though he gave his best and stayed clear, this wasn’t enough for a podium place.

Wild card driver Fredrik Persson (SWE) felt a little rusty on the first day as he had not been competing for two months, but he drove his team of nice, aged Swedish warm blood horses to the sixth place. The average age of his horses is 21 years old, but they are still fit as ever.

Georg von Stein (GER) was assisted by is compatriot and international four-in-hand driver himself, Christoph Sandmann, as his navigator. Unfortunately Georg had an error of course in the last marathon obstacle, which dropped him to the seventh place.

For more information on FEI World Cup™ Driving, please check the FEI website.

By Cindy Timmer

FEI Media Contact:

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

For Gothenburg:

Lotta Amnestal
Lotta.Amnestal@ridsport.se
+ 46 709 79 56 35