14 augustus 2009

WC Greven: Germany in the lead

The German team is chasing the gold on home soil at the FEI World Combined Pony Driving Championships in Greven-Bockholt. With a winner in the dressage in every class, Germany is 13 points in the lead in the nations standings, ahead of Belgium and the Netherlands.

Franz-Josef Lehmkuhl (GER):
“I was very pleased with my dressage, this in my best phase of the combined driving competition. I am 61 years old and I am not so fast anymore in the marathon. But I will try everything tomorrow o keep up with my competitors, assisted by my groom, who has been with me for over 15 years.”

Stephan Koch (GER):
“I bought the ponies when they were three and four years old and I schooled them myself. Dressage and cones are my specialties, in the marathon I don’t like to take so many risks. My ponies really like to work for me and I will certainly try to go nice and clear through the obstacles.”

Tobias Bücker (GER):
“Although I am very far in the lead, I will try to drive a safe marathon to secure the team result. Ofcourse I will not go slowly, but I will avoid the risks. To become team World Champion is more important than to become individual World Champion!”

Tomorrow’s marathon consists of eight challenging obstacles, built by World Equestrian Games 2006 course designer Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf. As the weather has become warmer, every necessary preparation is taken to provide the competitors and their horses with means to cool them. Asendorf is looking forward to the marathon: “It was difficult to build obstacles which are suitable for singles, pairs and teams of ponies. We have tried to build the obstacles in a way to minimize the risk for injuries for the ponies, welfare of the pony in this case has the highest priority.”

Tobias Bücker, also from the nearby village of Emsdetten, won the dressage in the pony four-in-hand class as team driver for Germany. Bücker, who has represented Germany at every European and World Championship for pony teams since 1995, has made many contributions to the German team gold medals they won in the past, and will do the same in Greven. Young driver Tinne Bax from Belgium performed very well with her team of grey Welsh ponies and took the second place, ahead of Germany’s second team driver Steffen Brauchle and title defender Jan de Boer from the Netherlands.

Member of the German team Stephan Koch claimed another German victory with his pair of Welsh ponies. The reigning German Champion scored 40,83 penalty points and herewith passed his team colleague Steffen Abicht, who was the overnight leader with 44,42 points. Former pony team driver Anna Grayston from Great Britain took the third place. Title defender Miranda Cadwell ended on an unusual 33rd position in dressage, having to use a different pony.

Individual competitor for Germany Franz Josef Lehmkuhl won the dressage of the single pony class. Lehmkuhl left the arena with a score of 44,80 points and herewith passed title defender and leader in the standings until that moment, Peter Koux from Denmark. Belgium’s Johan Verswalm took the third place with his impressive New Forest pony Cathy’s Tabor.
For Lehmkuhl, the World Championship is a home competition to him as he lives in Emsdetten, which is only eight kilometers away from Greven. The 61-year old driver will have special memories of Greven because this will be his very last competition he competes in. After having been a successful pony pair and pony single driver for many years, Lehmkuhl will now start to concentrate on training and teaching carriage driving and he will become a course designer for which he has been learning from Dr. Wolfgang Asendorf.