29 november 2009

Eriksson beats Exell on home soil in Stockholm

Sweden’s Tomas Eriksson beat Boyd Exell on home soil by winning the third leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Stockholm, Sweden. Exell, who has won the previous World Cup competitions in Hannover and Stuttgart, was last to go in the World Cup competition in Sweden’s capital city, but knocked three balls down and came fifth. Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich ended the second place, followed by his compatriot Daniel Würgler.

1. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 123.23 (5)
2. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 124.43 (0)
3. Daniel Würgler (Sui) 126.19 (5)
4. Fredrik Persson (Swe) 128.65
5. Boyd Exell (Aus) 129.34 (15)
6. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 130.41 (5)

Classification after 3 of 7 events:
1 Boyd EXELL AUS 23
3 Koos DE RONDE NED 14
4 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 8
5 Werner ULRICH SUI 7
6 Daniel WURGLER SUI 5
8 Christoph SANDMANN GER 2

Tomas Eriksson (Swe): “I am very pleased with my horses and with my victory. I had very good rounds in the warm up and World Cup competition. I pushed my horses a little harder in the World Cup competition and made a few mistakes, but luckily Boyd did the same.”

Werner Ulrich (Sui): “It is the first time that I use two small horse sin the lead of my team. The team did not do so well on the first day, but they went much better in the World Cup competition. I am happy that I am not so far behind on my fellow competitors. The small horses really make a difference in the obstacles, it is much easier to turn them.”

Daniel Würgler: “I have Eclair in my stables since this spring. He is very inexperienced, the first night I could hardly enter the arena, he was very insecure. He has taken the place of Attila, the leader horse I used last season but who is now injured. Once we were in the arena, Eclair did his very best and kept going for it, so I am very pleased with my performance, although I was a little slow with my hands sometimes.”

In contrary to the previous FEI World Cup competitions in Stockholm where the courses were very open and fast, Swedish course designer Dan Henriksson had designed a very technical course this year to challenge the drivers: “I wanted to try something new and decided to make a combination between fast and technical parts in the course. The disadvantage we have in Stockholm is that it is the smallest indoor arena used for World Cup competitions, so there is not much space to really try something new,” comments 54-year old Henriksson, who has been responsible for the courses in Stockholm since the start of the FEI World Cup in 2001. “The standard of the drivers in Stockholm is very good, although they are all very different,” concludes Henriksson, who is not influenced by the starting field when he designs his courses.

The Netherlands was partnerland this year at the Stockholm Horse Show, which was expressed in shows of the KWPN, the Royal Dutch Warmblood Studbook, and the Friesian Studbook of the Netherlands. The Dutch dressage and show jumping riders in Stockholm all performed very well with KWPN horses and despite the fact that there was no Dutch four-in-hand driver present in Stockholm, there was some Dutch influence in the Driving competitions.
Germany’s Christoph Sandmann competed with two KWPN ‘tuigpaarden’ in his team; the 8-year-old Cash (by Gelviro) and the 9-year-old Joy (by Joviaal). Cash, who came to Sandmann’s stables last summer, had his first indoor experience in Stockholm. Together with the experienced outdoor horses, French trotter Haut marnais and Oldenburger Attention Please, Sandmann ended on the 6th place in his first World Cup event of this season.

Boyd Exell is in the lead of the standings after three competitions and if he ends on the fourth place or higher in Budapest next weekend, he can drop his Stockholm score. But he is already certain of a ticket for the Final in Geneva in April 2010. Exell admitted a driving mistake in today’s course, but had to watch the video to see that the two other balls were knocked down as well.

Wild card driver Fredrik Persson was competing with the same team of horses he competed with in the FEI World Cup season 2008/2009, including the outdoor team horse, the 15-year-old trotter Grand Balthazar: “Other than last year, I haven’t trained so much for the show in Stockholm because this is my only World Cup start this season. I competed in a small indoor event in Kiel several weeks ago, but the level there cannot be compared to the high level here in Stockholm.”

Both Swiss drivers Werner Ulrich and Daniel Würgler started their World Cup season in Stockholm, which was awarded Best Indoor Driving Event 2008 by l’Année Hippique. Werner Ulrich used a mixed team with a Lusitano mare from his outdoor team, two Swiss Warm blood geldings from his old team and a new 8-year-old trotter mare. Although the 1998 World Champion did not set the fastest time, he passed the finish line with the only double clear round and herewith secured his second place. Daniel Würgler was very happy with his third place, using the 7-year-old Éclair DW, an Andalusian cross Camargue in the lead of his team, next to the trotter mare Suleika and the pair of Kladruber geldings from Würgler’s former team, the 17-year-old Favory Pastora and the 14-year-old Generale Erga.

It was clear that double World Champion Tomas Eriksson felt at home in the Ericsson Globen Arena. Many fans cheered the multiple Swedish Champion during the World Cup competition, which was sponsored by Länsförsäkringar, a Swedish national insurance company. With only one round to drive, the competitors had to put everything at stake. Eriksson decided last minute to change his route in one of the marathon obstacles and hesitated a fraction of a second, which caused a ball to fall. His time was fast enough though to beat Werner Ulrich, who had been in the lead until that moment. It is the second time that Eriksson wins the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Stockholm; in 2002 he was also crowned as winner.