30 December 2015

Boyd Exell is the Master in Mechelen

After a thrilling competition on the last evening of the 35th edition of Jumping Mechelen (BEL), Boyd Exell (AUS) claimed his fourth FEI World Cup™ Driving victory of this season. The enthusiastic spectators witnessed a fantastic neck-to-neck race with runner up Koos de Ronde (NED), while Georg von Stein (GER) finished third and is herewith one step closer to a starting place for the Final.

International Level 4 Course Designer Jeroen Houterman (NED) had laid out a technical and fast course for the eight top drivers, which was very nice to watch for the spectators, who had flocked to the Nekkerhal in large numbers despite the late hour.

Photo: Marie de Ronde-Oudemans

Photo: Marie de Ronde-Oudemans

Koos de Ronde was one of the three wild card drivers in Mechelen and was aiming for the sixth win in his career in the Nekkerhal. De Ronde is already certain of the Final and used the competition in Mechelen to test a new combination of wheeler horses: “It is the first time this season that I have used Bonusz and Palero in the wheel together and I am very happy with their performance. The incident in London Olympia has not affected my horses and myself. The horses have a lot of experience and they were both present in Mechelen.”
De Ronde put down again the fastest time in the Winning Round, but another knock down gave last starter Boyd Exell some more air.

Photo: Marie de Ronde-Oudemans

After the first round, the difference between the number three Georg von Stein and leader Boyd Exell was only four seconds, which resulted in a very exciting Winning Round.
First starter Von Stein really went for it in the shortened course and was very pleased with his performance despite one knock down, which made him finish third: “I did not do very well in the first competition on the first day. I made the mistakes, not my horses. My goal in Mechelen was to qualify for the Winning Round. I really need the World Cup points in order to have a chance to qualify for the Final. It is the second time that I have been in the Winning Round in Mechelen, the very good atmosphere here certainly contributed to my performance!”
Von Stein has now finished his season and is currently in fourth position in the standings with 13 points. It all depends on the results of the other drivers in Leipzig whether Von Stein will be able to maintain his position in the top six in order to qualify for the Final.

Mechelen was the second competition for European Champion Michael Brauchle (GER) and although his speed was fast enough, he lost some seconds in the marathon obstacles and had one ball down as well, which made him finish on the fourth place. Brauchle is in fifth position in the standings but still has one more competition to go in Leipzig.
His compatriot Rainer Duen drove his third and last competition of this season in Mechelen and finished sixth, which unfortunately was not good enough to qualify for the Final. Third wild card driver Glenn Geerts took too much risk and went too fast, finishing on the eighth place on his home soil. Glenn’s last start for points is also in Leipzig, after which the Top Six drivers for the Final will be announced.

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1. Boyd Exell (AUS) 252,54
2. Koos de Ronde (NED) 255,45
3. Georg von Stein (GER) 260,94
4. Edouard Simonet (BEL) 132,57
5. Michael Brauchle (GER) 134,48
6. Rainer Duen (GER) 142,54
7. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 153,55
8. Glenn Geerts (BEL) 154,21

1 Boyd EXELL AUS 30
2 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 27
3 Koos DE RONDE NED 21
4 Georg VON STEIN GER 13
5 Michael BRAUCHLE GER 12
7 Rainer DUEN GER 11
8 Jozsef DOBROVITZ jr. HUN 8
9 Jérôme VOUTAZ SUI 7
10 Glenn GEERTS BEL 4

The 26-year old Edouard Simonet (BEL) made his World Cup debut in Mechelen and finished on a well-deserved fourth place behind Georg von Stein. Edouard acted as a back stepper for Boyd Exell for many years and attended Mechelen in that function several times. In 2013 he successfully took up the reins himself of the four-in-hand Arabo Friesians owned by Louis Groenen. Simonet finished 13th in the FEI World Cup™ Driving standings and moved up to the 11th place after Weber and Sandmann pulled out. The driver from Neerpelt was thus very close to becoming one of the Top Ten drivers this season. He drove a team of Arabo Friesians and one Lipizzaner, previously owned and driven by Boyd Exell, which he put together 2,5 months ago especially for the indoor season. If he had not had one knock down in the first round, he would have finished in the Top Three.

Boyd knew his advantage to Koos was eight seconds, so his tactics were to drive steady. Boyd used up a little time at the start of the course but was still ahead of De Ronde. But Boyd made the competition even more thrilling when he knocked a ball off the last cones gate, number 13, on his way to the finish: “It certainly wasn’t the plan to hit that last cone, but luckily I still had some time advantage so it was ok in the end.” With nearly three seconds difference, Boyd won the FEI World Cup™ Driving leg for the second time in his career since 2011. Mechelen was Boyd’s fourth and last competition for points. The three best results count towards qualification for the Final, so even though Boyd got 10 points in Mechelen, he will stay on 30 points as he has to drop 1 of the 4 scores.