By Cindy Timmer
Koos de Ronde (NED), the reigning FEI World Cup™ Driving champion, won the first leg of the new season at Hannover (GER). The Flying Dutchman got off to a brilliant start and stayed ahead of his strongest challengers, Boyd Exell (AUS) and IJsbrand Chardon (NED).
The season opener in the Hannover Messe came down to an exciting battle between the three top drivers, and even at this early stage, they pushed each other to the maximum giving promise of an exciting season ahead.
Boyd Exell set the fastest time in the Winning Round, but unexpectedly had a knock down. Second starter IJsbrand Chardon used a new leader in his team to increase his speed and drove a clear round, but was slightly slower than Exell.
Last man in, Koos de Ronde knew he couldn’t afford to make any mistakes and kept his head clear. The tension grew amongst the many enthusiastic spectators in Hannover as De Ronde drove at top speed through the much-praised course, designed by German O-course designer Dr Wolfgang Asendorf. The crowd cheered as never before when De Ronde, who also drove a new leader horse in his four-in-hand, was crowned the winner after a clear round.
New leader horses
Koos de Ronde was very successful last season with his experienced leader horses Night and Charley, but trained with the coloured Tommy and the chestnut Palero, one of the spare horses of his outdoor team. In the training, the team went much better than with the previous leaders and De Ronde decided to take the risk, which resulted in a super performance at Hannover.
IJsbrand Chardon put a new Lipizzaner gelding to the test in his four-in-hand. The nine-year-old Feles, which also comes from the Dobrovitz family like the rest of Chardon’s indoor team, was used as right leader horse.
Boyd Exell used a different wheeler horse, Clinton Star, for this first competition and although Boyd set the fastest time in the Winning Round, the unexpected knock down denied him victory in Hannover.
Koos de Ronde’s team is certainly colourful, with two piebalds, a chestnut and a bay horse, but Michael Brauchle’s (GER) team was even more colourful. The metal worker used a grey, a chestnut, a black and a bay horse in his four-in-hand. The grey Eclair was previously owned and used by Daniel Würgler (SUI) who has now retired from Driving. The 13-year old chestnut gelding Armageddon only arrived at Brauchle’s stables two weeks ago and served as left leader. It was the gelding’s first time as leader horse. The bay Jamaika and the black Rapa Nui are part of Brauchle’s outdoor team. Despite their inexperience, Brauchle drove this team of horses to fourth place.
Theo Timmerman (NED) was out of luck in Hannover this weekend. During the first competition on Saturday evening he wasn’t able to drive at full speed because one of his pole straps had become loose. In the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition on Sunday he took the wrong rein at gate B in obstacle one, which cost him precious seconds, and he eventually ended up in fifth.
Daniel Schneiders (GER) received a wild card from the organising committee. The 32-year-old farrier drove his team to sixth place. Schneiders used the big “ponies” Cabus and Costa in the lead. Cabus was part of Schneider’s team when he drove a pony team, while Costa was used by his brother Dennis in single harness. Both horses are part of Schneiders’ outdoor team.
Koos de Ronde (NED): “Hannover just had it all. It is a great show with great spectators and a great course. The level of the course for the first competition is extremely high. It is going to be an exciting season. I used two new leader horses compared to last year and this season I will try to take horses who are in the best shape at that moment.”
Boyd Exell (AUS): “The team felt really good and I was surprised that we had a ball down. But it is good to know that this is still the fastest team in the world. With Clinton Star in the wheel, it created a new team feeling.”
IJsbrand Chardon (NED): “I had a very good feeling in the first round with my new leader horse. In the Winning Round, the control was a little more difficult and I noticed that Feles lacked concentration. But he just needs to learn and I am pleased with him, he will for sure stay in my team. The sport has won in Hannover. It was a fantastic competition with a great course, a big compliment to the course designer. If I had to give the course design a number, it would be a 10.”
Results of the FEI World Cup™ competition CAI-W Hannover (GER), 20 October 2013:
For the results in detail, please click here: Official results
Standings after 1 of 9 events: