Tag Archives: Driving

Wins for AP McCoy and Maikel Van der Vleuten on Race Night at Olympia

Jockeys of a different kind stole the show on day four of Olympia, The London International Horse Show. Ten of the most renowned jockeys from the world of flat and National Hunt racing took to the Olympia Grand Hall for the Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, with Sir AP McCoy’s team of ‘legends’ coming out on top.

The day kicked off with the Olympia Senior Showing Series Championships sponsored by Anthony D Evans Insurance. Jayne Harper and her 20-year-old black gelding, Crimewave II, triumphed in the ridden section and Alice Stratton and the 13-year-old Welsh Section B gelding Laithehill Pashsa won the in-hand final.

Three CSI5* Show Jumping competitions and a FEI World Cup Driving Leg provided top class international action from start to finish, with Maikel Van der Vleuten taking the pinnacle of the day’s Show Jumping, the 1.60m Longines Christmas Cracker. Meanwhile, showing his Dad how it is done, there was a win for Rocco Dettori in the Osborne Refrigerators Shetland Pony Grand National.

Cool-headed Dutchman Maikel Van der Vleuten, who has so often set the Olympia arena alight, was victorious again, this time on the 12-year-old bay mare VDL Groep Arera C in The Longines Christmas Cracker when shaving 0.19 seconds off the time of one of the world’s best horsemen, German Olympian Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut).

It was an international affair with Frenchman Simon Delestre third on Teavanta ll and another Dutchman, quiet horseman Harrie Smolders fourth on Cas.

There was no home cheer until ninth place, filled by Ben Maher on Don Vito, but the London Olympic gold medallist is now lying third in the Leading Rider of Show table.

In earlier classes, Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jnr set an unbeatable target from an early draw in The Snowflake Stakes, a speed class. Riding Falco van de Clehoeve, he held off a challenge from Britain’s Cayenne Puissance winner Laura Renwick, this time riding MHS Washington.

“Because I was so early to go I was hoping for a finish in the top five, so I am happy about how it finished,” said Francois. “This is the type of class where Falco has been quite competitive. He’s a special horse with a special personality.”

Germany’s Daniel Deusser, winner of the 2014 FEI World Cup Final, triumphed in a nine-horse jump-off in The Keith Prowse Snowman Stakes on SX Hidalgo VG.

Florida-based Amanda Derbyshire was fourth and highest placed Brit on Luibanta BH. Amanda, who is trained by Nick Skelton, and used to compete Olympic champion Big Star as a youngster, admitted that her aim was to be talent-spotted for the British team.

“It’s much warmer in Florida and I did wonder whether I wanted to travel over, but then I thought maybe I’d never get another invitation!” she said. “I was really quite over-excited when I arrived but I’m a bit more relaxed now. It’s fantastic to be here at Olympia.”

A stellar team of legendary jump jockeys trounced the flat jockeys in a thrilling Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

The National Hunt jockeys, trained by Graham Fletcher and headed by the winning-most jockey of all time, Sir AP McCoy, joked that their ages added up to more than 300 years. Their best performance came from Ireland’s Charlie Swann, winner of three Champion Hurdles on Istabraq back in the 1990s, but former champions Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody and John Francome, a former Junior European champion Show Jumper, showed they could still cut it.

The best performance from the flat jockeys, trained by Nick Skelton, came from captain Frankie Dettori, who said: “We gave it our best shot.”

Ijsbrand Chardon, the most experienced driver on the FEI World Cup circuit, treated the Olympia audience to a breath-taking display of rein-handling as he knocked favourite Boyd Exell into second place in the FEI World Cup Driving Leg presented by Dodson & Horrell.

First to go, Exell (AUS) set the bar high and the next four all picked up knockdown penalties. Penultimate to go, Benjamin Aillaud from France, who hasn’t competed in FEI World Cup competition for over a decade, posted a clear round, putting him second, but the Dutchman Chardon, twice a FEI World Cup champion, then took the course by storm, his horses responding to his every command. The win was his by 1.5 seconds, putting him in prime position for tomorrow’s final.

With a new mare in the lead, Chardon felt she was more settled. “Yesterday, she was a little over-awed by the atmosphere which is always so fantastic here. Today her concentration was better. Boyd had set such a standard, but today it all came together for me.”

GB’s representative, Daniel Naprous, whose day job is horsemaster to the display and stunt team The Devil’s Horsemen – recently taking the role of Darth Vader in Star Wars – put up a more assured performance, going clear until towards the end of obstacle two.

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

World’s Best Lead the Way at Olympia

Britain’s leading lady rider Laura Renwick put on a spectacular performance to win The Cayenne Puissance in front of a packed-out grandstand with HRH The Duchess of Cornwall as the guest of honour in the Presidents Box.

The afternoon session saw Spaniard Eduardo Alvarez Aznar speed to victory in the opening CSI5* Show Jumping class of the Show, with Australia’s Boyd Exell dominating the Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving Top Score. The popular Kennel Club Dog Agility returned, with a win for Tracy Moerel and Deutschlander Schnappss in the ABC Dog Jumping Grand Prix and there was an emotional arena appearance by Show charity mascots Teddy and Doris, representing Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall was present to enjoy an action-packed evening of top-class sport and equestrian entertainment, taking to the arena to present the awards for the Musto Inside Edge Stakes, won by Peder Fredricson, accompanied by European gold medal winners Tina Cook and Sophie Wells. The highlight of the evening, The Cayenne Puissance, was a closely contested affair, with Laura Renwick taking the eventual spoils as the only rider to clear the final 7′ 3″ wall.

Laura Renwick was overwhelmed by her spectacular victory on Top Dollar Vl in The Cayenne Puissance. Four riders made it to the fifth round, but Karline De Brabander from Belgium on Fantomas de Muze, Ireland’s Padraic Judge on City Business and 2016 joint winner Holly Smith on Quality Old Joker all faulted and as Laura entered the ring she knew the €7,425 prize was there for the taking.

“That wall is huge and, having seen the other horses hit it, having been jumping really well, I knew it was a big ask,” said Laura afterwards. “I was a little bit lucky – I didn’t have the best stride and the horse really had to use his body to get over it.

“I’ve never won the Puissance outright and so to do it on an eight-year-old horse with not much experience but loads of scope and heart feels amazing. The atmosphere was electric.”

Earlier in the day, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar riding Fidux headed a one-two for Spain in the opening jumping class, the Santa Stakes, holding off a late challenge from his fellow countryman Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro).

“I was early to go, and Manuel was right at the end. He knew what he had to do but wasn’t quite quick enough,” joked Eduardo, winner of last season’s Zurich Longines FEI World Cup qualifier with Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot. “[Fidux] is a real fighter and very quick across the ground.”

This is Eduardo’s second visit to Olympia, where he won the Six-Bar two years ago. “It’s such a fantastic special show, and a pleasure to ride here,” said Eduardo. “I hope to continue to back here for many, many years.”

Later, there was a Swedish one-two in the Musto Inside Edge Stakes, a speed class, when 2017 European Champion Peder Fredricson (H&M Zoulbet) beat compatriot Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Second Chance) by 0.77 sec to clinch the top prize.

The Dodson & Horrell Extreme Driving Top Score competition may act as a warm-up to the FEI World Cup qualifier, but the crowd was treated to a razor-sharp contest. Of the seven drivers, representing six nations, no-one was prepared to give any quarter, but it was reigning FEI World Cup Champion Boyd Exell from Australia who again proved unassailable.

Exell, a seven-time FEI World Cup Champion, already has three qualifier wins under his belt this season. The last driver into the arena, he was one of only two to post a clear round; the other came from Belgium’s Glenn Geerts, but he trailed Exell by some seven seconds.

Exell had a new inexperienced horse in the lead and explained: “He was a bit tired in the second round but he did all I asked of him. I love competing at Olympia – the atmosphere is always superb; it’s like coming home for me.”

To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Over 14 Hours of Live Coverage for Olympia, the London International Horse Show

Olympia, the London International Horse Show (12-18 December 2017), will be coming to homes across the UK with extensive broadcast coverage of London’s international equestrian event on the BBC.

Over fourteen hours of live action will be aired throughout the week, indicating the importance of Olympia as an international equestrian event and providing equestrian and sporting fans alike excellent access to the top-class competition.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, commented: ‘We are thrilled to be working with the BBC at Olympia once again.  The BBC coverage is important not only for the show but also for the sport.  Bringing world class Dressage, Show Jumping and Carriage Driving to a wider UK audience keeps equestrianism on the map and it provides viewers with the opportunity to see Olympic champions competing in world class competitions.’

Highlights to look out for include the FEI World Cup™ competitions in Dressage and Show Jumping in which the world’s top riders and Olympic gold medallists, including Ben Maher and Scott Brash, will compete. In addition, coverage will include international classes such as the Cayenne Puissance and the Olympia Grand Prix, as well as the Markel Champions Challenge, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Further coverage will include footage of Olympia’s equestrian displays, The Mounted Branch of the Metropolitan Police Activity Ride and the Chilean Huasos, along with the Kennel Club Dog Agility, The Shetland Pony Grand National and the Olympia Christmas Finale.

Internationally live coverage of the Dressage, Jumping and Driving FEI World Cup competitions is available on FEI TV and additional post-event coverage will be broadcast on Horse & Country TV.

Olympia, the London International Horse Show, may be viewed online and on TV. The day-by-day coverage listing is as follows*:

Wednesday 13 December

  • The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Freestyle to Music supported by Horse & Hound
    19:20-22:15 – LIVE on BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV, and FEI TV

Thursday 14 December

  • The Cayenne Puissance
    21:15-22:15 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV

Friday 15 December

  • The Entire Evening Performance
    18:45-22:30 – LIVE on BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV
    Featuring The Markel Champions Challenge, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and The Longines Christmas Cracker

Saturday 16 December

  • The FEI World Cup™ Driving
    18:30-19:15 – LIVE on FEI TV

Sunday 17 December

  • The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping
    13:30-16:35 – LIVE BBC Two HD, Online & connected TV 14:35-16:30 – LIVE on FEI TV

Monday 18 December

  • The Entire Evening Performance
    18:45-22:25 – LIVE on the BBC Red Button, BBC Online & connected TV
    Featuring The Mince Pie Stakes and The Olympia Grand Prix

Tuesday 19 December

  • Highlights
    11:00-12:00 – BBC Two HD, Online & connected TV

*All programmes are subject to change

Horse & Country TV will feature highlights from the Show from 18 December onwards, including the FEI Dressage, Driving and Show Jumping, along with the Cayenne Puissance, the Longines Christmas Cracker and the Olympia Grand Prix.

Horse & Country TV is available on Sky Channel 253, H&C Play, and Amazon Video. For more information, visit their website.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Top International Line-Up Announced for Olympia, the London International Horse Show

A stellar line-up of the world’s best Dressage and Driving competitors has been announced for Olympia, The London International Horse Show, taking place from 12-18 December 2017.

Adding to this year’s spectacular Show will be a world-class selection of riders contesting the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music, supported by Horse & Hound, taking place on the Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 December, respectively.

Contending for the title and making a welcomed first appearance at the Show, Swedish Olympian and current leader of the FEI World Cup Western League, Patrik Kittel, a long-standing Grand Prix rider with an equally long list of achievements to his name. Kittel will be competing aboard Delaunay Old, who together took team bronze at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg.

The 2016 Irish Rider of the Year and holder of Ireland’s highest ever Grand Prix score, Judy Reynolds, (Vancouver K) is another who will be gunning for glory. Certain to give Reynolds a run for her money is renowned Dutch rider, Edward Gal, triple gold medallist at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games™, the first rider to claim all three available medals. Gal will be pulling out all the stops aboard the young stallion Glock’s Zonik.

Making her Olympia debut will be Madeleine Witte-Vrees riding the Dutch-bred stallion Cennin, who together represented the Dutch team for the 2017 Europeans in Gothenburg and were selected as reserves for the 2016 Olympic team. The pair has also claimed several Grand Prix Freestyle victories, including in Roosendaal, Rotterdam and Mallorca. Adding to the Dutch challenge and returning to Olympia for the third time will be Katja Gevers with Thriller, a combination that are into their seventh season of Grand Prix.

Flying the flag for the home-side will be 2017 British Dressage National Champion Hayley Watson-Greaves (Rubin’s Nite), Emile Faurie (Delatio) Team GB representative at a staggering six European Championships, three World Equestrian Games™ and two Olympic Games, former British team medallist Gareth Hughes (Don Carissimo) returning after a five-year absence from the Show, and Lara Butler (Rubin Al Asad), reserve for the 2016 Olympic team.

The strong home contingent also includes four-time British Olympian Richard Davison, who has been at the forefront of international dressage for over three decades. Fresh from victory in the Grand Prix at CDI Roosendaal at the end of November with the homebred Bubblingh, Davison will be in confident spirits as he comes up against some of the best horse and rider combinations in the world. The British quintet has much opposition, however, and the Grand Prix promises to be a close and exciting competition.

The UK’s largest indoor horse show is also set to welcome top international four-in-hand drivers for the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg, presented by Dodson & Horrell. Their first encounter will be on Thursday afternoon during Olympia’s Extreme Driving competition, familiarising them with the arena and its highly-charged atmosphere. The first round of the FEI competition follows on Friday with the final starting in Saturday evening’s packed performance.

Reigning World Champion, both indoors and out, Boyd Exell, returns to compete with a wild card. With seven FEI World Cup™ titles to his name, including the 2016 and 2017 seasons, he is a regular contender and winner at the prestigious Show. Challenging Exell, and representing the home team, will be the notorious Dan Naprous, who will be wowing crowds with his supreme pace and agility.

Joining Naprous will be Ijsbrand Chardon, the most experienced, and multi-medalled of all the drivers in the starting line-up, having been at the top of the sport since the 1980s. Chardon is making a welcome return to Olympia Horse Show, after his absence in 2016. Fellow countryman, Koos de Ronde, who has shared the World and European Championship team gold medal winning rostrums with Chardon on eight separate occasions, will be giving Chardon a run for his money, having competed at the Show each year since the competition began.

This is a line-up not to be missed. To find out more about Olympia, the London International Horse Show, and how to get tickets, visit www.olympiahorseshow.com.

For more information, please contact:
Olympia, The London International Horse Show:
Gayle Telford gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk 0203 176 0355

Blue Ribbon Days Percherons Named $25k Six-Horse Draft Champions at Royal Horse Show

Blue Ribbon Days Percherons, driven by Dean Woodbury. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Toronto, Ontario – The horses of Blue Ribbon Days Percherons, owned by the Albert Cleve and Jim Day families and driven by Dean Woodbury, won the $25,000 Royal Six-Horse Draft Championship on Saturday, November 11, at the Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.

The $25,000 Royal Six-Horse Draft Championship, presented by Ames Construction Inc., was the culmination of five days of six-horse, breed-specific competition at The Royal, with the top three Belgian, Clydesdale, and Percheron hitches invited to contest Saturday night’s championship in front of a sold-out crowd in the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Blue Ribbon Days Percherons hitch of Farmington, MO finished second in Friday’s Percheron Six-Horse Hitch class to qualify for Saturday night’s championship, where they claimed the prestigious title.

“It’s a great honour to win at The Royal,” said Dean Woodbury, who first contested The Royal in 1982. “It makes you feel good to win the last show of the year no matter what you’ve done the rest of the time!”

While Woodbury frequently drives a talented team of geldings for Blue Ribbon Days Percherons, it was a team of mares that took the win on Saturday night.

“There was lots of power in that ring tonight and lots of very good hitches all the way through,” said Woodbury. “The horses get driven at least every other day, if not every day.  They’re just like an athlete; they have to be trained and toned.  You want them to be fit to go into the ring.”

Taking the Royal Six-Horse Draft Reserve Championship title were the Percherons of All Star Farms, driven by Ross Honsberger of Bellevue, MI and owned by Doyle and Renee Dingman.  Honsberger and the All Star Farms hitch won the Percheron Six-Horse Hitch class over Blue Ribbon Days Percherons to qualify for the championship.

Bryce Smith’s Double S Belgians hitch, driven by Kyle Forsyth of Tillanook, OR, rounded out the top three in the championship, having qualified by winning the Belgian Six-Horse Hitch class on Wednesday, November 8.

In addition to the popular Six-Horse Hitch classes, the 2017 Royal Horse Show also offered Two-Horse, Four-Horse and Unicorn classes for the draft teams.

For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit www.royalfair.org/horseshow.

Chester Weber Climbs to Number Two in the World Rankings for Four-in-Hand Driving

Photo courtesy of Bas van Doorn.

Ocala, Florida (October 13, 2017) — Fresh off of a win at the World Cup Qualifier at Donaueschingen, Germany, Chester Weber returned home to Ocala with his and Jane Clark’s team of KWPNs for some well-deserved “R and R”. After a successful European tour culminating with Donaueschingen, Weber moved up the ranks to take over the number two spot on the FEI roster of top Four-In Hand combined drivers in the world and third on the list for World Cup Driving Team Qualifiers.

“I was really pleased,” said Weber of the latest ranking. “The FEI has two rankings lists. They have the World Cup rankings and the top driver awards. The World Cup ranking is just based on World Cup Qualifiers that qualify for the World Cup — we finished third there. And then the top driver award which is all the FEIs and we finished second.”

The current rankings are significant for Weber and his team since he is competing with this combination of horses for the first time internationally. Weber remarked, “I am so proud of my team’s performance throughout the European tournament schedule. It’s really exciting to look forward to next year, to think of the possibilities with the combination of the seasoned veterans like Jane Clark’s Splash, and the new horses on the roster. They were a new team to competing together in international competition and they really have started to hit their stride.”

The KWPNs are enjoying some quality pasture time back at the farm in Ocala; however, there will be little reprieve for the number two-internationally ranked FEI Four-in-Hand driver. “I will be racking up those Frequent Flyer miles, bouncing back and forth from Ocala to Europe to compete in the indoors,” Weber explained.

Weber’s recently acquired team of Lipizzans stayed behind in Europe to compete in the ongoing indoor tournament schedule. Weber will split his time between home and Europe throughout the fall season to hone his driving skills in the indoor competitions.

“Part of the reason we strategically decided to do the indoor World Cup is not only do we get to compete at some of the top show jumping and dressage venues in the world, but it also makes my timing better. And it makes me a better outdoor Marathon driver without a question,” explained Weber.

Aside from being one of the top ranked driving competitors in the word, 14-time USEF National Combined Driving Champion Chester Weber is also dedicated to promoting the equestrian sport of driving on a national and international level. For Team Weber updates, results, photos, and combined driving news as the indoor competition in Europe continues, follow Chester Weber on his official Facebook page, Instagram @ChesterWeber, or visit www.chesterweber.com.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Chester Weber Wins Donaueschingen CHI3*

Photo courtesy of Nadine Pettersson Söderström.

Donaueschingen, Germany (September 29, 2017) – Chester Weber offers no rest for his rivals. When the 14-time USEF National Combined Driving Champion withdrew from the Breda CAIO4*, The Netherlands, to allow one of the team horses to recover from an elevated temperature, the world renowned driver turned his attention to competing in Donaueschingen, Germany. Keeping the welfare of his and Jane Clark’s horses foremost, and sure that all of them were feeling their best, Weber rolled through the three phases of competition in Donaueschingen, emerging the definitive winner of the Combined Driving Four-In-Hand CHI3*.

Among 21 starters, Weber marked an impressive score of 35.92 in the dressage phase with the powerful KWPNs, which included 14-year-old Splash in the right lead, 8-year-old First Edition in the left lead, 12-year-old Asjemenou at right wheel, and 11-year-old Boris W. at left wheel. The bay geldings performed their best, and with several outstanding horses on the team’s roster to choose from, Weber mixed up the order of things moving into the marathon.

“In the marathon it was the same team but eight-year-old Reno took the right lead and Splash came out. Reno is a new horse on the team, and possesses an interesting pedigree. He is half Friesian and half Orlov Trotter, a Russian breed,” Weber, of Ocala, Florida, explained. “We drove him and liked him, and thought that he would prove helpful to us in the marathon; he’s been doing just that. We purchased him from Hungarian four-in-hand driver József Dobrovitz, Jr.”

Added to the usual expected challenges of the marathon phase were rain and a soggy track, where Team Weber incurred penalty points but recorded a 102.93. “It’s a tough track there,” he explained. “It was muddy, but they fared well. It was a pity we had two knocked down balls, and that cost us the win in the marathon.” Team Weber rounded out the weekend with a good placing in the cones phase, and secured the overall top placing.

With his sights set on delivering peak performances at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina and known for his goal-oriented nature, laser focus, and dogged determination, Weber is using this year to build and fine tune his program. “It takes time competing to get it all put together, and I think that is the benefit of going to Europe in a non-championship year so we can really try new things,” he remarked. “Next year, it will be a little bit more homogenous in what we are going to do. We will figure out what works the best and work at refining that.”

As Team Weber moves through the latter part of 2017’s competition schedule, the new team of Lipizzaners, still stabled in Europe, will make a showing at several driving events in Holland. Come late 2017 Weber will focus his competitive energies stateside — along with many other major players in the sport of Combined Driving who winter in Central Florida — with plans to attend the Combined Driving Event at Grand Oaks, Weirsdale, Florida, in early December.

In the meantime, while Weber jets between the U.S. and Europe to keep his teams competing on the international stage, the three-time World Equestrian Games Silver Medalist always places his horses’ welfare foremost in his mind. Aside from catching up on much needed sleep in between trips, Weber explained his schedule when he returns home, saying, “I rest, go through mail, and try to get everything organized. When the horses return, we make sure the stable is in order and that we have all the quality hay and supplies we want for them. Now that the KWPNs are all back, they are having easier days hacking and also spending time in the paddock.”

Weber, who continues to be a major contender in the international world of four-in-hand combined driving, is also dedicated to promoting the equestrian sport of driving on a national and international level. For Team Weber updates, results, photos, and combined driving news as competition in Europe continues, follow Chester Weber on his official Facebook page, Instagram @ChesterWeber, or visit www.chesterweber.com.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Driving the Winner as Dutch Claim Double Gold on Final Day of Extraordinary Championships

Photo: IJsbrand Chardon. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

In one of the closest finishes in recent history, the Netherlands narrowly held off a resurgent German trio and a fighting Belgian challenge to claim their fourth successive European team gold after a captivating final day of competition of the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE).

Driven on by their irrepressible individual gold medallist IJsbrand Chardon, the Dutch just about maintained their air of invincibility, but they certainly had to work for it.

Spurred on by consultant trainer and world number one Boyd Exell (AUS), the Germans came hard at the men in orange through the cones test, but with both individual bronze medallist Christoph Sandmann and Georg von Stein picking up late time penalties, they fell just short.

With all three Dutch drivers finishing inside the top six individual positions, the Netherlands took team honours with a total of 299.73 to the Germans’ 308.94.

“We fought hard for this; nine points is not a lot. They were very close.” — Team gold medallist Koos de Ronde (NED)

Compatriot Chardon was quick to add: “Boyd is very clever; he certainly made their team better.”

The Belgians showed their emerging strength, claiming team bronze after holding off a spirited last-day challenge from the French team, for whom Anthony Horde went double clear, one of six individual drivers to achieve the feat.

“Team Belgium is ready to challenge now,” individual silver medallist Edouard Simonet said after finishing less than two points behind Chardon’s winning score of 150.37. “We will work on our dressage to get even better with Glenn (Geerts) and Dries (Degrieck) and with the marathon we need to get a more consistent performance and then we will be really close to the Dutch and the Germans.”

Geerts, who at 28 years old is the elder statesman of the team, stressed the “huge boost” a first Championship medal will give to the sport in Belgium, after they finished on 320.04, just over 13 penalties clear of the French.

Ultimately, however, no-one could quite steal the limelight from Chardon. Fresh from revelling in the “rock concert crowd” of marathon day, the 55-year-old thrived in front of a full house at the Heden Arena.

“For me it helps. The bigger the pressure, the better. The horses were so good, it was easy in the end.” — Dutch gold medallist IJsbrand Chardon

Indeed the Dutchman was clear enough of the rest of the field to let out a yelp of delight and start his celebrations at the last obstacle, even though he knocked off a ball.

“I was too happy; I’m sorry!” he laughed.

Closest challenger Simonet reflected on a dilemma facing many top young sportsmen.

“It’s good but there’s a little disappointment I did a little mistake yesterday on the marathon. But I’m only 27 and the future is in front of me. I have many Championships to try and get the gold.” — Belgium’s individual silver and team bronze medallist Edouard Simonet

A further point back, Germany’s Sandmann praised the virtues of working with world champion Exell while acknowledging the relationship cannot last.

“Boyd is so professional, so thorough, everything is 1000%. We hope to keep him but next time we have the World Equestrian Games and then we will be fighting each other,” he said ruefully.

As a contented crowd poured out of the Heden Arena, it was left to Exell, the biggest name in the sport, to deliver a final verdict on an extraordinary Longines FEI European Championships.

“Yesterday was a stonking crowd; it was like a rock concert out there and a full house today,” said the Australian. “The nice thing was that driving looked like the most popular of all the equestrian disciplines.”

By Luke Norman

FEI Media Contacts:

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

All Eyes Turn to ‘Once in a Lifetime Marathon’ after Enthralling First Day of Driving

Photo: Theo Timmerman (NED) (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

The stage is set for a titanic battle with driving’s biggest names nestled together on a tightly-packed leaderboard after day one of the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE).

It will be the orange men of the Netherlands who move on from the dressage to the marathon test in the best spirits, after claiming the top two individual spots and finishing more than seven points clear in the team competition on a score of 85.83.

But Germany, under the temporary tutelage of world number one Boyd Exell (AUS), showed a marked overall improvement in dressage, getting all three of their team into the top seven individual positions. They currently lie second in the team standings.

Meanwhile, rising star Edouard Simonet (BEL) laid down a strong marker as he moved into individual third to steer Team Belgium into a temporary hold on bronze, a slender 2.54 penalties adrift of the Germans.

It is Theo Timmerman (NED) though who tops the individual placings after producing a flawless dressage display in front of the biggest crowd of the week at the Heden Arena. “The feeling was good; I did every figure, every transition perfectly,” he said.

The 52-year-old’s score of 41.82 placed him just ahead of compatriot Ijsbrand Chardon (NED), who revealed he’d been forced to change his best two horses following July’s FEI World Cup™ competition in Aachen (GER).

An exuberant Timmerman shared an interesting take on just why the Dutch have dominated the team aspect of this event for the past decade.

“It sounds stupid as we are a team, but we don’t work together. We all do our own thing, we know each other, we do the course walk together, but training-wise and driving-wise Koos (de Ronde) does his thing, Ijsbrand (Chardon) does his thing and I do my thing and we don’t bother each other.” — Overnight leader Theo Timmerman (NED)

The Germans, who take a different attitude to team building, spent the early part of the week in a training camp at the farm of team member Mareike Harm under the watchful eye of Exell. It too seems to be working.

“The 2012 World Championships was the last time I was under 50,” said Georg von Stein, who is running two of Exell’s horses in his team. “I was calmer with the support of Boyd (Exell), all his experience and the training we did. It felt easier with his horses.”

Von Stein starts the marathon course seventh overall, three places behind teammate Harm. With specialist marathon driver Christoph Sandmann (GER) lying fifth, the 2015 European Championship silver medallists will fancy going one better here.

The young guns from Belgium will no doubt have something to say about that though. Simonet led the charge in the morning, finishing with his best dressage score for two years.

“To be at or near my best at a Championship is good. I was up at 5.30am and in the practice arena at 6.30am. It was worth it!” — Edouard Simonet (BEL) in third after dressage

Exell, the 27-year-old’s coach and mentor, noted that the next two days are a “big opportunity” for his charge, who scored 45.42.

As soon as each driver stepped off his or her carriage, thoughts turned to the marathon test. Event leader Timmerman neatly summed up the drivers’ thoughts as they contemplated flying through Gothenburg’s city centre and into the Slottsskogen Park for the obstacles test.

“This is something special; once or twice in your life you have something like this. They had it in Stockholm in ‘88, it was great, and they do it again in Sweden. You don’t find it anywhere else where they do it like this. I can’t wait to see how many people will be there.” — Theo Timmerman (NED) on why the Slottsskogen marathon will be so special

By Luke Norman

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Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
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United States Impresses at 2017 World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen

Laura Kraut and Zeremonie. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

US brings home silver in FEI Nations Cup competitions; numerous top finishes for individual athletes

Aachen, Germany – The United States sent 18 equestrian athletes and fielded two FEI Nations™ Cup teams to compete at the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen in Aachen, Germany July 14-23.

“It’s the Wimbledon of our sport; there is no question,” said Robert Ridland, Chef d’Equipe of the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping team. “It is one of the most prestigious places to compete. The top riders are all saying: we are bringing our ‘A’ game here, we are bringing our best horses.”

The U.S. athletes certainly came prepared to compete, with plans and goals laid out. The following are some highlights of the U.S. athletes’ week in Aachen.

Show Jumping

On Tuesday, July 18, 2004 and 2008 Olympic team gold medalist Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and HHS Hercules, Abigail Wexner’s 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding, took third place in the Sparkassen Youngsters Cup, a class for seven and eight year olds, with zero faults and a time of 67.51.

The following afternoon, Lauren Hough (Wellington, Fla.), 2000 Sydney Olympian, and Ohlala, The Ohlala Group’s 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare, competed with 58 other riders and took fifth place with zero faults and a time of 43.20 in the Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe. Later that afternoon, Hough went on to take fifth with Waterford, Laura and Meredith Mateo’s 2003 KWPN gelding, with zero faults and a time of 38.43 in the Prize of StadteRegion Aachen. In addition, 2008 Olympic team gold medalist Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Whitney, Artisan Farms, LLC and Torrey Pines Stables’ 2003 KWPN gelding, took third in the same class, with zero faults and a time of 37.45.

Thursday proved to be an exciting day for U.S. Show Jumping. Madden and Breitling LS, Wexner’s 2006 Dutch Warmblood stallion, won the STAWAG-Prize, with zero faults and a time of 66.01. Kraut and Whitney placed third with zero faults and a time of 69.86. Later that evening, Kraut and 2004 and 2008 Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) led the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team to a silver medal tie with Switzerland in the Mercedes Benz FEI Nations Cup CSIO5* Aachen with double clear performances aboard Zeremonie, Old Willow Farms’ 2007 Holsteiner mare, and HH Azur, Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s 2006 Belgian Warmblood mare, respectively.

“Today was exciting as always – Aachen is the pinnacle of sport. To go double clear tonight with Zeremonie was thrilling,” said Kraut.

World number one ranked and 2016 Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) and his mount Uceko, R.C.G. Farm’s 2001 Dutch Warmblood gelding, pulled out a beautiful win on Friday in the North Rhine-Westphalia with zero faults and a time of 46.65. When asked about Uceko and winning in Aachen, Farrington responded: “He [Uceko] is really special. He loves grass arenas. I’ve had him since he was six years old, and I’m so proud that he is 16 and still winning here at Aachen. It was an amazing day.”

On Sunday, Ward and HH Carlos Z, Double H Farm’s 2002 Zangersheide gelding, won the SAP-Prize, with zero faults and a time of 60.21. That evening Kraut and Zeremonie, Ward and HH Azur, Farrington and Voyeur, Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding, Hough and Ohlala, and Madden and Darry Lou, Wexner’s 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding, all competed in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. In the end, Kraut went head-to-head with Gregory Wathelet from Belgium, Luciana Diniz from Portugal, and Marc Houtzager from the Netherlands in the final jump-off. Kraut placed fourth with four faults and a time of 48.01.

Additionally, Zeremonie and Old Willow Farms were presented with the prestigious Halla Challenge Trophy by Hans Gunter Winker for the most successful horse at CHIO Aachen. Kraut was also awarded with the “Prize of the Federal Minister of the Interior,” an award of a special trophy given to the best jumping athlete of the entire show, presented by the Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich.

Dressage

The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team came to Aachen ready to compete. The first phase of the FEI Nations Cup CDIO5* began on Thursday, July 20, with the Preis der Familie Tesch Grand Prix. 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and Verdades, Graves and Curt Maes’s 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding, took second place behind Germany’s Isabell Werth with a score of 79.514%. The U.S. team sat in second place after the first phase.

“Three of our four horses have never shown at Aachen before,” said Robert Dover, Chef d’Equipe for The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage team. “Two of these horses are in their first season of showing internationally in Europe and one of them is in his first handful of CDIs in his life. Maybe that’s why, by the end of the day, I was a little over-wrought with emotion.”

On Saturday, the second and final phase of the FEI Nations Cup continued in the MEGGLE-Preis Grand Prix Special. With the German audience hanging on to every passage, piaffe, and pirouette, Graves and Verdades took on Werth and her mount, Weihegold OLD, performing a truly masterful test, and scoring a 81.824% that catapulted them to the top of the class standings – on Graves’ 30th birthday, no less. Combined with the rides of the remaining team members, The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team went on to claim the silver medal behind Germany and ahead of Sweden.

“Today was my day,” Graves said. “My horse gave me a great birthday present. I could not be more pleased with him. And, there is nothing like a stadium of Germans singing happy birthday to you. That is really memorable.”

Graves and Verdades went on to take third place in the Deutsche Bank Prize Grand Prix Freestyle on Sunday, with a score of 82.550%.

Eventing

U.S. eventer Hannah Sue Burnett (The Plains, Va.) placed seventh overall in Aachen, with RF Demeter, Jacqueline Mars’ 2002 Oldenburg mare. After Thursday’s dressage test, with 39.90 penalties and the jumping phase, with a time of 87.22 and zero faults, the combination went into Saturday’s cross-country phase sitting in fifth place. Finishing the course clear and with just eight time penalties, Burnett and RF Demeter finished seventh in the overall line-up with a final score of 42.50 penalties.

“The time is difficult to make here in Aachen,” said Burnett. “This was really my first time that I’ve tried to be fast on her [RF Demeter]. I was only eight seconds over, which is really good. It is a really fun feeling here. Everybody cheers so much and there is so much involvement from the crowd. I love that feeling and I love this event.”

Combined Driving

Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) represented the United States in combined driving in Aachen. On Wednesday, July 19, Weber masterfully guided Bastiaan, Fritz Grupe’s 2006 KWPN gelding; Boris W, Weber’s 2006 KWPN gelding; First Edition, Weber’s 2009 KWPN gelding; and Splash, Jane Clark’s 2003 Dutch Warmblood gelding, to a second place finish in the Prize of Fa. Horsch, Der Entorger Dressage Four-In Hand with 41.28 penalties.

On Friday, Weber went on to take second again in the Top Score Driving Competition with 1800.00 points, with Boris W, First Edition, Maestoso Jupiter, Weber’s 2007 Hungarian Warmblood gelding, and Splash in the traces.

Vaulting

U.S. Vaulters performed well at Aachen with numerous top-ten finishes.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department