14 december 2008

Geneva: Exell rules

After his victory in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Budapest last weekend, Australia’s Boyd Exell today won the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Geneva, Switzerland. This professional event will host the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final from 14 to 18 April 2010 in conjunction with the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
Exell ruled in the largest arena in Europe where many enthusiastic spectators cheered him. Wild card driver Thibault Coudry from France put down an excellent performance and came second, ahead of home driver Daniel Würgler.

Click here for the photo album

Leader of the standings Jozsef Dobrovitz from Hungary had swapped a leader horse and admitted afterwards that he should not have done that. His leaders lacked stability, which caused three balls to fall, and ‘Dobro’ came sixth today. Because the Hungarian bronze team medallist competed in four World Cup events already and the best three results count, he stays in the lead after five competitions.

By coming fifth, Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich has not collected enough points in his last World Cup event of this season to qualify for the Final, but the 1998 World Champion was nevertheless pleased with his Swiss bred horses.

Title defender Christoph Sandmann just barely missed a starting place for the winning round after knocking two balls down and came fourth. Sandmann is currently in seventh place in the standings but competes in Mechelen for points and has received the wild card in Leipzig, the place where he was crowned World Cup Champion 2007/2008 at the start of this year.

First starter Daniel Würgler drove a steady first round and this resulted in a starting place for the winning round. Würgler is competing with two inexperienced leader horses and he only put this team together for the first time several weeks ago. The trotter Suleika was born in his stables and his current owner drives the mare in single. The owner has stabled the horse for three months with Würgler and allowes the Swiss Champion to drive the brave mare in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competitions. The six-year-old gelding Attila is normally used for the post carriage rides Würgler organizes for his living. Although he knocked three balls down in the winning round, Würgler was pleased that he came third and that his horses have made so much progress so quickly.

Geneva was Thibault Coudry’s first FEI World Cup™ Driving experience and the 28-year-old driver thoroughly enjoyed it. His compatriot Benjamin Aillaud performed twice very successfully in Geneva, but his horses are sold so he was unable to compete in Geneva this year. Coudry used to drive draft horses and switched to driving a pair of warm blood horses in 1995. Four years later he started to compete with a four-in-hand. The marathon team he competed with in Geneva consisted of three Polish geldings and a French trotter. Coudry set the fastest time in the first round and made it to the winning round despite two knockdowns. He mastered the shortened course, designed by German course designer Falk Böhnisch very fluently and came second despite one knock down.

Boyd Exell knew he had nine seconds advantage to Coudry before he entered the arena as the last competitor and decided to go for a safe round. The 36-year-old Britain based bronze medallist in Beesd drove a very neat clear round and herewith secured his second win of the season. Exell has climbed to the second place in the standings and is certain of a starting place for the Final in Gothenburg on 21 and 22 February 2009 in which the Top Six drivers of the standings after Leipzig will qualify.

Boyd Exell (Aus)
“I thought Jozsef Dobrovitz would be my biggest threat in Geneva, but he made a mistake. I am sure though that he won’t do that again in the Final! Geneva was my last competition before the Final. I competed in Stockholm, Budapest and Geneva week after week and this much travelling has a lot of impact on my horses. Although I won today, I felt my team went more flowing in Budapest last weekend. But the course in Geneva was also more technical, I like it better when the course is more flowing, especially in the obstacles.”

Thibault Coudry (Fra)
“It was a great experience to compete in the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Geneva with a wild card. I really enjoyed it and I hope to be invited back again next year! I used the marathon horses that I have been competing with in Deauville 2007 and 2008 and which I used throughout the whole summer season. I received a lot of very good tips on the course and on my horses from Boyd Exell, which really helped me. I believe this also contributed to my good performance in Geneva.”

Daniel Würgler (Sui)
”I wished this was my first competition and not my second one! My horses have improved so much since last week in Budapest and they are getting better and working together even more every time I drive them. On the first night I lost a loop in one of the obstacles and I came last. I had nothing to loose today so I am very pleased with my third place.”

Photo’s can be found in the album

Results CAI-W Geneva:
1. Boyd Exell (Aus) 251,17 (0)
2. Thibault Coudry (Fra) wild card 257,52 (5)
3. Daniel Würgler (Sui) 277,99 (15)
4. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 145,62 (10)
5. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 146,67 (0)
6. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 155,41 (15)


Classification after 5 of 7 events:
1. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 27
2. Boyd Exell (Aus) 23
3. IJsbrand Chardon (Ned) 17
4. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 12
5. Fredrik Persson (Swe) 12
6. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 11
7. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 10
8. Daniel Würgler (Sui) 9
9. Zoltan Lazar (Hun) 7
10. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 2