22 August 2015

Aachen: Gold for Michael Brauchle and the Dutch team at Aachen 2015

Michael Brauchle (GER) is the new individual FEI European Champion Four-in-hand driving. Brauchle put everything at stake in the final phase of the European Championships and won the marathon, with which he even passed IJsbrand Chardon (NED) in the individual standings. The bronze individual medal went to Koos de Ronde (NED), while the Dutch team claimed gold again.

Photo: Dirk Caremans

The 25-year old Michael Brauchle was on the fifth place after the dressage and cones and decided to fully go for it in his favourite phase of the competition. Brauchle was 56 seconds behind to the leader in the standings IJsbrand Chardon. The winner of the marathon at the CAIO Aachen 2008, 2011 and 2013 set the fastest times in 6 obstacles and put down the second and third fastest time in the remaining 2 obstacles, leaving his opponents far behind him: “I was able to use my best wheeler horse again, which I had to miss in the previous two competitions. I started very fast and the horses got better and better after each obstacle. I drove at full risk, then I am at my best!” With this excellent performance, Brauchle was over 58 seconds faster than Chardon, with which he not only won the marathon but also his first ever individual gold medal.

Brauchle’s compatriot Christoph Sandmann was in 12th place before the marathon and was also determined to perform well in this marathon phase, which welcomed many enthusiastic spectators who were able to enjoy a warm and sunny day. Sandmann set top times in nearly all obstacles, securing his second place in this competition and helping the German team to win the silver medal.

Koos de Ronde finished third and herewith won his second bronze individual medal at the European Championships. De Ronde won bronze before in 2011 in Breda (NED): “The differences between myself and Dobrovitz and Brauchle were very small and my goal was to secure my third position by driving safely. My team did not perform good enough to win the marathon at this level, but despite a knockdown in obstacle three I still finished third in this phase, for which I am very happy.”
Last starter IJsbrand Chardon fought like a lion in the eight obstacles, designed by level 4 Course Designer Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf. It did not come easy for the four-times World Champion however: “My horses did not have the right form to perform well today,” says Chardon. “I had a mistake in obstacle two, which cost me precious seconds. I did calculate before that I would loose some seconds to Brauchle in every obstacle, but I haven’t tried to equal his times because I wanted to finish safe.”
In the end, the difference between gold for Brauchle and silver for Chardon was only 0,21 penalty points.

After Chardon had passed the finish line of the marathon, which included a mobile marathon obstacle in the main stadium for the first time, the scoreboards showed Chardon as the winner with Brauchle as the runner-up in the individual final standings. But as the scores were made official later on, Brauchle was declared the new European Champion with Chardon as silver medallist.
The Nations Team competition ended up the same as in 2013: The Dutch team renewed their golden medal, the German team fought hard and took home the silver medal again while the Hungarians won the bronze.

Click here for the results.

Click here for the photos.