13 September 2020
The World Championships for Four-in-hand horses are coming!After a lot of uncertainty, the World Championships for four-in-hand horses will still be taking place this year in the Netherlands. Held on the grounds of reigning World Champion Boyd Exell's stables in Valkenswaard, drivers will strive for individual and team medals from 7-11 October.
The World Championships were originally planned to be held in Kronenberg, but were cancelled due to concerns surrounding Covid-19. The Australian team driver and reigning World Champion Boyd Exell along with the organisation behind Driving Valkenswaard International approached the FEI (the international equestrian federation) and the KNHS (the Royal Dutch Equestrian Sport Association) with the initiative to still organise a World Championship in 2020. The organisation received the green light to go ahead in July and as such the World Championships unlike the Olympic Games will not have to be delayed a year.
This will of course be a ‘Covid-19-proof’ World Championship. The greatest consequence of this will be for the spectators. A World Championship held in the Netherlands always attracts a massale crowd of driving enthusiasts, but this year everyone will be relegated to following the competition via livestream. Chairman of Driving Valkenswaard International Ludo Hertroijs explains: ‘We are of course extremely happy that a World Championship is even going to take place this year. Of course a championship without spectators will be a calmer affair, but the sport itself remains the priority. It was extremely important to us that fans of combined driving are able to follow the competition on another medium, and the livestream is therefore a great option.’
There are 39 drivers representing 14 countries entered in the World Championships. From these countries, 11 will be sending a national team. The ten-time gold medal winning Dutch team is still favoured to win the team competition, even though they had to settle for silver two years ago in Tryon (USA). For the individual medals, host Boyd Exell will be defending his gold medal, but will be put under pressure by top Dutch, Belgian and German drivers. It promises to be an exciting competition!
In addition World titles for four-in-hand horses, an international two-star competition will also be held for pair and four-in-hand horses. This addition will provide a full four day program of top equestrian sport.
At the moment the organisation is working night and day to make sure the grounds are in optimum condition for the competition. The building of 8 massive marathon obstacles is a huge undertaking.
The tentative show program:
– Wednesday 7 October: Horse Inspection
– Thursday 8 October: Dressage Pair and Four-in-hand CAI**
– Friday 9 October: Dressage Four-in-hand World Championship
– Saturday 10 October: Marathon
– Sunday 11 October: Cones and Prize giving ceremony
Current information can be found on the website
Photo: Krisztina Horváth