Demolishing the opposition, world number one Boyd Exell (AUS) was in a league of his own as he triumphed for the second consecutive weekend in the next leg of the FEI Driving World Cup™ in Maastricht (NED). The only driver of the six not to add any penalties to his times and have four clear rounds during Friday and Saturday nights’ competitions, he steered his razor sharp horses to yet another victory in his glittering international career.
In a repeat of the drive-off line ups in Lyon (FRA) last week, on both nights Boyd was joined by the legendary Ijsbrand Chardon (NED) who finished 2nd, and 3rd placed Koos de Ronde (NED), the Dutch drivers boosted by the support of the home crowd.
With the passion and flair that has made him one of the sport’s most decorated competitors, Ijsbrand laid down a drive-off performance which should have been a winning one, clear in a time of 141.83. But it simply wasn’t enough to fend off Boyd as he and his incredible team blasted past the start gates and sped through the obstacles without knocking any balls to shave a staggering 6.85 seconds off and finish on 134.98.
“Normally on the second day you go three or four seconds faster, but this time we were nearly seven seconds faster – my horses are so fast and they are a strong and fun team to drive.
I remember in 2008 George Bowman said to me you have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win and that has stuck with me! Like in Lyon, Ijsbrand did a very good round and we were able to match it. I concentrated on my own job and tonight I think my navigator Emma wanted it more than me as she was keeping me so focused!” – Boyd Exell
Competition one on Friday night saw the top three athletes go again and end on a cumulative score after the two rounds, having dropped the ‘F’ gates from the two marathon-style obstacles. For Saturday’s second competition, the running order was determined by Friday’s placings and although the same three athletes qualified to drive again, they ran over the full course, but their scores started from zero. As in Lyon, the designer was Jeroen Houterman (NED) who set the teams a twisting but flowing 800 metre course with 13 obstacles, including a bridge.
Also competing was Lyon’s wild card entry Benjamin Aillaud (FRA) with his Lusitano horses who ended in 5th, ahead of Michael Brauchle (GER) who had a successful night on Friday to sit just outside the drive-off, but on Saturday caught a rein and made uncharacteristic mistakes to put himself out of contention this time.
Another driver making his series debut was Belgium’s Glenn Geerts, bronze medallist in last season’s FEI Driving World Cup Final in Leipzig (GER) in April. Slightly off the mark on Friday, he found another gear on Saturday to steer his big horses into 4th position.
Next week Boyd and his crew will be travelling to Stuttgart for the third of eight legs in an already gripping series. All bets will be on him making it three wins in a row – tune in to find out if he can do it again!