9 November 2013

Verona: Boyd Exell wins first edition of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Verona

Four-times FEI World Cup Champion Boyd Exell (AUS) has won the inaugural edition of the FEI World Cup™ Driving at the Fieracavalli equestrian event in Verona. Exell stayed ahead of European four-in-hand Champion and wild card competitor Theo Timmerman (NED) and József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN), who drove his first World Cup driving event of this season.
Fieracavalli this year celebrated their 115th anniversary and has been host of the FEI World Cup™ Jumping for many years. It is the first time that Verona hosted a leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving, which was scheduled after the popular Gala evening. Despite the late night hour, many spectators enjoyed the spectacular driving sport, offered by the seven top drivers.

After Boyd Exell’s top horse Bill passed away last summer; Boyd has now found a potential successor in the 13-year old trotter gelding Knight Templar. Boyd drove a very fast and clear round with which he already set an advantage of over 12 penalty seconds. Boyd wanted to try something more technical in the winning round and took tighter turns in the obstacles. This unfortunately resulted in two knockdowns, but with the advantage he had, his victory in Verona did not come into danger.

Wild card
Theo Timmerman had received the wild card from the organising committee and proofed to be worth it. Theo lived and worked in Italy for many years and knew the Fieracavalli as a visitor. Theo had set the goal for himself to use the competitions in Hannover and Verona to get his four-in-hand ready for the other four competitions in which he is competing. Theo knocked two balls of the last two cones in the first round and was very pleased to still qualify for the Winning Round, in which he set a fast time.

From ponies to horses
Less than one week ago, József Dobrovitz jr. won the individual silver medal in the pony four-in-hand class at the FEI World Championships for Combined Ponies in Pau (FRA) and he proofed to be a true all round horseman by putting down two wonderful rounds with his horse team in Verona. Like Boyd and Theo and József Dobrovitz senior, who were in Pau as trainers, József jr. did not have a chance to practise with his horses as he was focussing on his pony team the last two weeks. József jr. deliberately drove long but fast routes in the course, designed by O-course designer Johan Jacobs, who is also responsible for the indoor courses at Olympia and Mechelen. Junior’s left leader horse Aba Sam, which is part of his outdoor team as well, caused some problems on the first night and was not in his usual mood, but after having changed his bit, the 7-year-old Lipizzaner performed well again. Junior’s right leader Janko has only been in Dobrovitz’ stables since 3 weeks and was a pair horse before.

Famous navigator
For Georg von Stein (GER) Verona was his first FEI World Cup competition of the season. Von Stein drove his team of mixed breed geldings to the fourth place, assisted by two colleague German four-in-hand drivers. The well-known and successful driver Christoph Sandmann acted as navigator for Von Stein, while Sascha Utz was on the backstep.
The father of József Dobrovitz jr came sixth, driving a new horse in the left lead for the first time. Von Stein’s compatriot Michael Brauchle experienced some problems with his four-in-hand, which became a bit too strong to handle during the course. This resulted in several knockdowns and the sixth place. The famous and popular Italian driver Carlo Mascheroni had received the second wild card and was very pleased to compete in Verona. The 73-year-old pair and four-in-hand driver conquered the course with his team of German and Dutch bred horses, finishing on the seventh place.


Boyd Exell: “The potential in Verona is very good, just the timing needs to be different to make it better for the spectators, sponsors, our horses and ourselves. The course was good, it was flowing and fast. I am very pleased with my new horse Knight, he can be a universal horse but he just needs more experience.”

Theo Timmerman: “I haven’t had time to train my indoor team in the past two weeks so I am very happy that it went well for me. I have put these horses out in the field last summer and I noticed that it takes a lot of time to get them back in form, so I won’t do that again next season. I enjoy indoor driving, it makes me quicker during the outdoor events as well.”

József Dobrovitz jr.: “This is my first season as a World Cup driver, I drove with a wild card before in Budapest, but indoor driving is definitely a different game. I just have to learn to drive the cones and the obstacles without mistakes. My father was very happy for me that I did well. He is happier when I do better than him!”

Click here for the results.