19 December 2015

IJsbrand Chardon beats Boyd Exell at London Olympia

IJsbrand Chardon (NED) did what all the drivers in the FEI World Cup™ Driving series are aiming for. The four-times World Champion beat the so far unbeatable Boyd Exell (AUS) with two fast and faultless rounds in the electrifying London Olympia arena. Exell, who competed with a wild card, finished second ahead of Koos de Ronde (NED).

After 2011 and 2013 it is the third time that IJsbrand Chardon wins the leg at London Olympia, where he has been performing very well throughout the three competition days, which included an extra competition on the first day, not counting for the World Cup.
By earning the 10 World Cup points, Chardon is certain of a starting ticket for the Final in Bordeaux, as well as Boyd and Koos de Ronde.

IJsbrand Chardon did not use his regular leader horse Aladin as it had a cough upon arrival earlier this week. He replaced the gelding by the more experienced but tougher to drive Lipizzaner horse Inci, who was part of the team before: “I know that Inci has to grow in the competition, he just needs a bit of time. My horses felt super and I haven’t knocked any balls down for three days, which is brilliant.” Chardon analysed his and Boyd’s rounds on video after the first competition yesterday and decided to take a shorter route, which resulted in the second fastest time, only one second behind Boyd, who had a knock down. Chardon went into the Winning Round over an altered course with somewhat nine seconds advantage but still went for it: “I had a very safe feeling but I did drive at full speed. I knew I could have one knock down and when I went clear the feeling was just great!”
With his ticket to the Final in his pocket and with one more competition to go in Mechelen (BEL), Chardon will try some alternate setups to his team in order to get the good feeling for Bordeaux.

Dutch Level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs was responsible for the course last week in the largest arena in Geneva and took up the challenge to design another exciting course in the smallest arena in the FEI World Cup™ Driving series in London Olympia, which worked out very well. The spectators, who have become very knowledgeable in the past years, very much enjoyed the performances of the seven drivers and the atmosphere in the beautiful Olympia Hall was just amazing.

Boyd Exell won the extra competition and the first competition and was last to go in the first round, where he set the fastest time. He was unfortunately plagued with team set up problems and had one knock down, which put him into third position. After only a short break, Boyd had to enter the arena again for the Winning Round and had no time to think about his tactics. His plan to take a different route in one of the marathon type obstacles failed, he lost speed and rhythm and a ball fell, which made him finish second after winning in Olympia in 2014: “It is good for the sport that somebody else wins,” says Boyd. “I am still pleased with my second place. I can’t expect to win all the time and I am for sure not going to let this ruin Christmas!”
The last time Boyd was beaten at an FEI World Cup™ Driving Leg was in Leipzig earlier this year, where Koos de Ronde was the strongest.

The remaining four drivers pushed their teams of horses in a very strong competition, where the level was extremely high, including second wild card driver Dan Naprous (GBR).
József Dobrovitz (HUN) drove a short route from gate 8 to 9 but didn’t profit from taking this risky route as a ball fell. This cost him a place in the Winning Round and dropped him to the fourth place. London Olympia was Dobrovitz’ fourth and last competition of these Series and with 12 points behind his name it is very unlikely that he will make it to the Final. Georg von Stein’s (GER) goal was to drive very fast so he could afford a ball, but he unfortunately came short over one second and had one ball. Von Stein has one more competition to go and is currently in fifth place in the standings.
After finishing third in the first competition, Glenn Geerts (BEL) was determined to equal this performance today, but he unfortunately had three knockdowns and finished on the sixth place. Glenn will compete in Mechelen with a wild card and then in Leipzig where he will get his last chance to win enough points to enter the Top Six.
Dan Naprous, who is a stuntman by profession and currently working on the film Wonder Woman, put down very good performances in London Olympia with his team of Lipizzaner horses and although he is always disappointed to finish last, he also realized that the World Class drivers in London were very hard to beat.

The Dutch golden team medallist has had his ups and downs this week. He finished on the sixth place in the first competition after having made several changes in his team of horses. Koos actually made some changes during the warm up session today as well and finally re-found the right feeling. Koos went for in in the first round, knowing that his fellow competitors were all eager to make it to the Winning Round as well. He drove a clear round in a fast time and only Chardon managed to beat him in the end. De Ronde was then unlucky ain the Winning Round where he had 20 penalty seconds added to his time after two knockdowns and rebuilding the course. His unlucky round however wasn’t finished yet. De Ronde caused excitement when his left wheeler horse and left leader horse fell in the sharp turn just after passing the finish line: “I passed the finish at high speed when my left horses fell. I got pulled off the carriage but my horses quickly got back on their feet and did not get injured.” Johan Jacobs stood in the course and grabbed the team quickly, so they could be stopped promptly. Koos presented his team in the prize giving ceremony, showing the spectators that everything was ok with his four-legged friends. 

Johan Jacobs and the Organising Committee have given the obstacles in the course a new 'look and feel', which has resulted in several obstacles, shaped as a christmas present.
“We are keen to have our own obstacles with a different look and feel," explains Show Director Simon Brooks-Ward.
The bridge in the course is completely new and the Olympia jumping obstacles are used as wings at the entrance and exit of the bridge. The standard orange cones were covered with green sleeves.

Click here for the photo album

Results FEI World Cup™ Driving, London Olympia (GBR), 19 December 2015:

1. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 207,07
2. Boyd Exell (AUS) 213,89
3. Koos de Ronde (NED) 230,19
4. József Dobrovitz (HUN) 113,53
5. Georg von Stein (GER) 115,44
6. Glenn Geerts (BEL) 125,69
7. Daniel Naprous (GBR) 133,01

FEI World Cup™ Driving, standings after 5 of 7 events:

1 Boyd EXELL AUS 30
2 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 27
3 Koos DE RONDE NED 21
6 Rainer DUEN GER 8
Jozsef DOBROVITZ jr. HUN 8
8 Michael BRAUCHLE GER 7
10 Glenn GEERTS BEL 4