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Extreme Driving to again thrill Olympia crowds

The fast and furious Extreme Driving will return to Olympia in London next month, with six of the world’s best drivers preparing their teams for the challenge.

An extra competition has been added on the Wednesday night (December 18) of Olympia. The speed event will give competitors a chance to acclimatise their horses to the indoor environment and start honing their skills for the next day’s competition. The Thursday event is a warm-up to give the running order of the deciding second round, which is an FEI World Cup event.

Since it was trialled two years ago, the competition has exceeded expectations; drawing in crowds and leaving audiences amazed at the skill of the world’s top four-in-hand drivers, who manoeuvre their horses at speed around a complex course of obstacles in a seemingly impossible small space.

This year’s competition will see six of the world’s best drivers, including reigning World Cup Champion Koos de Ronde from the Netherlands. He will be joined by fellow Dutchmen Ijsbrand Charlton, four times World Champion and Theo Timmerman, a regular in the Dutch team at World Championships.

Competing with a wildcard entry is current Outdoor Champion, Australia’s Boyd Exell, with his usual knife edge skills he brings to all competitions. Based in the UK, Exell is four times the holder of the World Cup Driving Championships, and was narrowly beaten by de Ronde last season. His technical skill and lightning-fast rein-handling continue to draw unparalleled admiration from the crowds.

Also competing will be two newcomers – Daniel Schneiders and Michael Brauchle – both from Germany. Schneiders was a member of the gold medal winning team at the Pony World Championships in 2011 and started driving a horse four-in-hand in competition only last year. Brauchle, at 23 the youngest competitor, is from a family steeped in competitive carriage driving and has represented his country four times in World and European Championships. Renowned as a marathon driver – he won the marathon twice at the always hotly contested Aachen Show – he will undoubtedly be a keen contender.

The final place will be a member of the Great Britain team, which is expected to be announced in November.

By the date of the London International Horse Show, the 2013/14 World Cup Driving season will be over half way through with six competitions – in Hannover, Verona, Stuttgart, Stockholm, Budapest and Geneva – having taken place. It is a measure of the popularity of the Olympia venue that drivers from Continental Europe are keen to make the journey across the Channel in the week before Christmas.

Olympia Horse Show runs from Monday, December 16, to Sunday, December 22. Olympia is one of Europe’s most important indoor equestrian events, hosting three FEI World Cups in driving, dressage and jumping.  The Reem Acra FEI World Cup dressage leg takes place on December 16 and 17; the FEI World Cup driving leg on December 19 and 20; and the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping leg presented by H&M on December 21.

Boyd Exell competing at Olympia on a wild card, flew to victory in the FEI World Cup Driving qualifier.

Boyd Exell, competing at Olympia on a wild card, flew to victory in the FEI World Cup Driving qualifier in 2012. © Rinaldo de Craen/FEI

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