15 December 2023

London 2023: Exell wins opening round by a whisker

The London International Horse Show kicked off yesterday for the four-in-hand Drivers with an extra class not counting for the World Cup, the Extreme Driving, that was won by Boyd Exell, Koos de Ronde second and IJsbrand Chardon on the third place. Tonight the Driving Christmas magic continued in front of an electric crowd with the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup at the ExCel London.

Home driver Daniel Naprous started off the evening on the course built by Jeroen Houterman (NED). Dan, who is driving on a wild card in London had some problems in one of the marathon-type obstacles and the jury had to ring the bell for a rebuild. This meant some penalties for the British driver, who ended the first round of the leg on the 7th place. Next up were the two German drivers Georg von Stein and Mareike Harm, who both had some knockdowns, which prevented them from going into the drive-off. Georg von Stein had two knockdowns, which meant 8 seconds extra, but still finished on the 4th position with 174.46 seconds. Mareike Harm unfortunately had 12 seconds penalty for three balls down. Her final time was 185.73 and a 6th place in tonight’s round. Glenn Geerts (BEL) had a fast time on the course, but unfortunately also struggled with knockdowns. 16 penalty seconds meant a total time of 176.14 and a 5th place for the young Belgian Driver.

The top three Drivers of tonight were the same as of the Extreme Driving yesterday. All three of them had one ball down in the first round. Koos de Ronde (NED) was first to come back in the drive-off, where he again had four penalty seconds, but a very fast time of 140.05. Including the penalty, his time of 144.05 was good for the third place in tonight’s round. IJsbrand Chardon was already on fire in the first round, and he electrified the crowd even before finishing his round. In the drive-off he gave his all and his team of Lipizzaners was flying around the course without any penalty, putting pressure on the last to go, Boyd Exell. Chardon ended his round on 137.37. Boyd took on the challenge in the drive-off. His team took off like a rocket and remained clear on the course. He managed to beat Chardon in a nail-biting finish by only a second. Tomorrow’s World Cup round starts at 19.00 (CET).

Click here for the results.

Photo: Amy Mundell