After a very close battle it was Dutchman IJsbrand Chardon who took the top honours by winning the FEI World Cup Driving leg in Mechelen last week. IJsbrand Chardon stayed ahead of his rival, Australia's Boyd Exell, for the second time this season leaving Boyd Exell to finish in second place, ahead of Swiss driver Jérôme Voutaz.
Course Designer Jeroen Houterman had designed a challenging course with three marathon type obstacles and a bridge. Boyd Exell made a mistake twice in the third marathon obstacle, which cost him vital seconds in the first round and a knock down in the winning round.
“In the first round I came in too fast and the loop in my reins was too long,” said Boyd Exell. “This was a driver mistake. In the winning round my rein got caught at the bottom of my whip. But I am very pleased with my horses and have to be a good sportsman, so I am happy with my second place.”
However, Boyd Exell put the pressure on IJsbrand Chardon, who was the last driver in. “The footing was quite heavy, which made my horses a bit stronger,” said IJsbrand Chardon. “My left leader horse is new in my team this season and he needs competition rhythm. I want to show that he can do it and he is on 80% compared to where he was in Stuttgart and I need him to be 100% in order to have the best feeling for the Final in Göteborg. My win here was not a gift, I like to win on my own strength.”
Jérôme Voutaz qualified for the winning round by driving a very fast round in which he was three seconds faster than IJsbrand Chardon, but one knock down kept him from taking the lead. In the second round, which took place over a shortened course, he picked up one ball again, but he was nevertheless very pleased with his performance.
“My horses went extremely well and I very much enjoyed driving this course,” said Jérôme Voutaz. “In the winning round I was determined not to make any mistakes and it was great to compete against the two best drivers in the world!”
Results FEI World Cup™ Driving, Mechelen (BEL):
1. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 128.71
2. Boyd Exell (AUS) 134.55
3. Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) 140.97
4. Koos de Ronde (NED) 144.05
5. Glenn Geerts (BEL) 147.04
6. Theo Timmerman (NED) 152.19
7. Georg von Stein (GER) 158.13
8. Rainer Duen (GER) 168.33