21 augustus 2009

WC Kecskemet: Dutch in the lead

Mieke van Tergouw, the 1995 World Champion lady driver from The Netherlands, won the dressage, ahead of Switzerland’s Beat Schenk and Sebastian Warneck from Germany. The Netherlands is in the lead of the nations standings, followed by Hungary, Germany and the USA

The football stadium in Kecskemét, Hungary, home base of the Kecskemét football team, was the stage for the dressage competition of the thirteenth FEI World Pair Driving Championships, which took place on Thursday and Friday. The stands of the stadium took a lot of sun, which forced the spectators look for a seat in the shade.

Warneck, who won the dressage at the 2007 World Championships in Warka, was in the lead after the first dressage day. Warneck competed with the same successful pair, the Dutch warm blood geldings Condor S and Wallegro. The reigning German Pair Champion was able to enjoy his overnight success, but got beaten by today’s second starter Beat Schenk. Schenk, who is a professional carriage-driving teacher, put down a very expressive test with his pair of Bavarian and Dutch warm blood horses. But the six time National Champion only remained in the lead for a short while until Mieke van Tergouw entered the arena. Van Tergouw, who is representing the Netherlands for the 8th time at a World Pair Championship, impressed the judges with her pair of KWPN geldings Lord and Talos. Van Tergouw drove very concentrated and put down a technically very well driven test. The winner of the dressage at the international show at her home base in Beekbergen this year took over the lead from Schenk with 1,5 penalty points.
Title defender Vilmos Lázár and his younger brother Zoltán, who are both on the very popular Hungarian team, took the fourth and fifth place in dressage.

Third team member for Hungary Zsolt Selyben started the Championship with a disadvantage after one of his horses was eliminated in dressage. Also, horses of Austrian driver Fritz Stenitzer, Danish competitor Hans-Henrik Nielsen, Switzerland’s Daniel Wütrich, Miroslav Matuska from Slovakia and Zsolt Selyben from Hungary, all team members for their nation, were declared ‘not fit to compete’ by the veterinarians during the first horse inspection on Wednesday. For competitor Edwin Bryson the horse inspection meant the end of the competition. The Irishman had travelled to Kecskemét with only two horses, of which one was eliminated.

Brain test
Course designer Christian Iseli is looking forward to the marathon: “The course is a true World Championship course. It was my goal to give the drivers a brain test. The different possibilities in the obstacles are technically demanding and can be described as heavy. The water obstacle is a small exception to this; the footing is very good which allows the competitors to drive fast.

To ensure the welfare of the horses and taking the expected high temperatures into consideration, I built a course, which demands a lot of the drivers beforehand. The victory and the best marathon drives will also be decided during the course walk. The marathon will be won by a top fit pair of horses with a competitor that drives a very well thought-through marathon.”

Course designer Christian Iseli from Austria, silver individual medalist at the World four-in-hand Driving Championship in Frauenfeld 1974, is an experienced course designer.
He was responsible for the courses at the World Pair Championships in Zwettl 1991 and Poznan 1995, the World four-in-hand Championships at the same location in Kecskemét in 2004 and the last two World Single Championships in Pratoni 2006 and Jarantow 2008.

Mieke van Tergouw (Ned):
“I am very happy that I won the dressage. It is the first time in my career that I have taken the first place in the dressage at a World Championship and it feels great! I had to work hard to get my horses going this week. Only 10 minutes before I entered the arena, I got the right feeling back again. The test went very well.”

Beat Schenk (SUI):
“I am looking forward to the marathon. I have a good feeling and I hope that I can drive everything the way I have planned it. The marathon is very technical and difficult, but my horses are fit so I hope for a good result.”

Sebastian Warneck (GER):
“It is the first time that I compete in Hungary and is nice to be in a country where the driving sport is so famous and popular. I was nearly satisfied with my test, the beginning was not so good, but I grew in the test. The horses did a very good job, just like two years ago.”

Vilmos Lázár (HUN):
“I have double pressure at this show because I am competing here as well as organising. But I am very happy so far with both. The competition is very open after the dressage, the most difficult part is coming now, the marathon and the cones.”

Results dressage & individual standings:
1. Mieke van Tergouw (Ned) 38,66
2. Beat Schenk (Sui) 40,19
3. Sebastian Warneck (Ger) 41,98
4. Vilmos Lázár (HUN) 42,62
5. Zoltán Lázár (HUN) 45,57

Standings nations competition after dressage:
1. The Netherlands 86,0
2. Hungary 88,2
3. Germany 94,6
4. USA 94,7
5. Switzerland 100,2