Tag Archives: Bram Chardon

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
+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
+41 78 750 61 46

The Legendary Boyd Exell Comes Flying Through

Image copyright PSV.

The 2019/2020 season of the FEI Driving World Cup has begun. The very best drivers got together at Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for this first four-horse indoor driving meeting. At the end of a drive-off reserved for the three best teams from the first round, Boyd Exell – the world number one and a true legend in the discipline – won the event with a masterful performance. The Australian combined speed and precision in this spectacular class. He won the event in a time of 142”70, with second place going to the young and promising Dutchman Bram Chardon (26) – who won the FEI World Cup Driving Final last year – in a time of 148”99. Third place went to the Hungarian József Dobrovitz in 173”14.

Leading their four horses with their guiding reins and the sound of their voices, the drivers demonstrated the full potential of their horses and the true teamwork achieved with their grooms. “We had a great day of sport. I competed for a long time against Ijsbrand Chardon. Today, it is his son Bram who has taken over. He is a great competitor and improving each year. It’s great for our discipline: it pushes everyone to get better and it will take elite driving to a new level,” said Boyd Exell, four-time world champion and seven-time FEI World Cup Final winner. The Boyd Exell/Bram Chardon duel has truly started. “This time it was Boyd’s turn to win. Next time, it’ll be mine!” said the young Dutchman, with a smile.

Benjamin Aillaud represented France at the event, with four new horses. “I have gone back to my first love by assembling a new team of Lipizzan horses. The objective is to really make a mark in indoor driving with these horses,” said the Frenchman, who was seventh in the event.

Part of the Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for the second year in a row, four-horse indoor driving was once again a great success on the last day of the show. “We are very proud to host this discipline in Lyon. The audience is really starting to enjoy the discipline. I am really pleased that the best drivers in the world come to compete here;” said Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, before adding: “This year’s Equita Lyon attracted a record number of visitors. All the people involved contributed to making this year’s show a success.”


Gold for Gänshirt, Grayston and Chardon at FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Breda

Fabian Gänshirt (GER) was absolutely thrilled to secure gold at his first World Pony Singles Championship in Breda (NED) with his eight-year-old German riding pony David L. (FEI/Krisztina Horváth)

Breda (NED), 6 September 2015 – Fabian Gänshirt (GER), Anna Grayston (GBR) and Bram Chardon (NED) all took world championship crowns home from Breda (NED), which was host to the seventh edition of the FEI World Driving Championships for pony singles, pairs and four-in-hands this weekend. The Dutch team claimed the gold medal for the second consecutive time.

A total of 87 competitors from 16 nations fought for the honours at the Prinsenhoeve Estate, venue for the Outdoor Brabant Horse Show, with eight teams battling it out in the nations competition. It was the first time in the history of pony driving that the World Championships had been held in the Netherlands, but the choice of Breda was a natural one as this venue hosted the first ever FEI European Championships for pony four-in-hands in 1995.

Unfortunately, heavy rain showers battered the competition site from the start, which affected the footing in the dressage arena as well as the marathon phases and the obstacles.

New team format
It was the first time that the nations teams were composed differently compared to the previous World Pony Driving Championships. According to the new rules, a Nations Team is composed of 2-3 singles, 2-3 pairs, and 1-2 four-in-hands. The scores per phase of the two best singles, two pairs and one four-in-hand counts towards the team result.

Fabian Gänshirt (GER), 26, finished fifth in dressage and third in the very heavy marathon to take the lead in the standings after the first two disciplines. In the final obstacle driving competition he had just a handful of time penalties and was absolutely thrilled to secure gold at his first ever World Championship.

Gänshirt, who won the CAIO Minden this year with his eight-year-old German riding pony David L, was very happy: “The dressage went okay for me, but I know my pony can do better,” he said. “The atmosphere in Breda was different and caused some tension with my pony. In the marathon I started quite modest but after obstacle one went well, I started driving and fully went for it which resulted in fast times.”

He felt the pressure before he went into the cones arena after Martin Hölle drove clear: “I said to myself, ‘stay cool’! This pony is unbelievable; this is only the second year that I drive him and the first season that we compete at this level.”

The silver medal went to defending World Champion Martin Hölle (HUN), who competed with his World Championship pony Apache de la Licorne. Hölle won the dressage but dropped to second after the marathon in the day-long heavy rain showers.

The 18-year-old student really went for it in the cones: “I came here for first place, so in the cones I felt I had nothing to lose, only something to win.” Hölle is planning to compete with a horse pair from next season but he will go on competing in the single pony class at the same time so that he can compete again in the 2017 FEI World Pony Driving Championships.

Second German team member Katja Helpertz took home the bronze medal, driving her New Forest pony Nordstern´s Stoertebecker. The 23-year-old law student moved up to the third place in the standings after finishing second in the marathon. Both Hölle and Helpertz are trained by Dutch trainers.

After winning bronze at the previous World Championships in Pau 2013, Anna Grayston (GBR) was finally able to finish the job in Breda and was crowned World Champion in the Pony Pairs. Grayston finished second in dressage and moved into the lead after the marathon. After second placed driver Christof Weihe (GER) left the cones arena with over 20 penalty points, Grayston, a 43-year-old carriage driving coach, had more than 15 penalty points advantage over her opponents. She knocked two balls down and had time penalties, but she wasn’t sure where she had ended up when she finished and only realised she’d won when the speaker announced it.

“I didn’t know how much I had in hand so I only knew that I had won when I came out of the arena!” she said.

Grayston used the same ponies in her dressage pair as at the 2009 World Championships in Greven (GER) and used one of the leaders of her pony team which she drove at the 2005 World Championships in Catton (GBR): “I haven’t used this dressage pair in Lipica or Pau. I decided to use them again because the judges like bigger paces in dressage. I sold my leader pony from Catton to one of my grooms and I got it back in February. I use it just for the marathon and with getting the pony back, I also got my groom back as back stepper in the marathon!”

Dressage winner Jan-Felix Pfeffer (GER) dropped to fourth place after the marathon but as his compatriot Weihe had too many faults in the cones, the German Vice-Champion 2014 and 2015 moved up to take silver. Austria’s Stefan Bösch finished second in the marathon and moved up to bronze before the cones, holding onto the medal despite one knockdown.

Bram Chardon (NED) left no room for his opponents in Breda, with the 22-year-old winning all three phases of the competition to claim his third consecutive individual gold medal. Chardon junior started well in the dressage despite the heavy footing. In the marathon he felt the breath of second placed Steffen Brauchle (GER) on his neck and decided to go for it: “I saw Brauchle in obstacle one; he took the short route and went so fast that I decided to go for it from the beginning,” Chardon said. “I had Aachen still fresh in my memory where my father IJsbrand lost it in the marathon to Steffen’s brother Michael and I didn’t want that to happen to me!”

After dressage and marathon, Chardon junior had an advantage of over 23 penalty points to Brauchle, so he could take it easy, but he proved his professionalism and finished the job by putting down the only double clear round of his class, driving the same grey Welsh ponies as when he won the title in Pau (FRA) in 2013.

Steffen Brauchle was the deserved silver medalist, finishing second in dressage and third in the marathon with his German riding ponies. The Belgian 21-year-old Nathan Nijs took the bronze medal after finishing second in the marathon, which he could have won but for a hiccup in the last obstacle. After dressage, in which he drove his home-produced carriage, and marathon, Nijs was in third place and held on despite two knockdowns and some time penalties.

By Cindy Timmer

Media Contacts:

At Breda:

Anita Lussenburg
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+31 621 585878


Grania Willis
Director Media Relations
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Ruth Grundy
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