Dutch driver IJsbrand Chardon is well on his way to secure his third FEI World Cup Driving champion title, with a win in the first round of the final, in Bordeaux on Saturday.
Daniel Schneiders (GER) finished second ahead of title holder Koos de Ronde (NED). Australia’s Boyd Exell (AUS) came in fourth.
The enthusiastic spectators attending the Jumping International de Bordeaux enjoyed a thrilling competition despite an incident suffered by the first starter. Wildcard driver Thibault Coudry (FRA) tipped over after the fourth obstacle, but his horses, his grooms and Coudry himself were not injured. The Frenchman will start in the Final on Sunday afternoon but has little chance to make the podium.
The rule, according to which 50% of the score differential converted into seconds are carried forward to the final competition on Sunday, was introduced to ensure that all the competitors did their best from the start and guarantee an excellent show.
Budapest and London Olympia winner IJsbrand Chardon held on to his strong performances with his Lipizzaner horses and drove a very fast and fluent round around the course designed by FEI O-course designer Gabor Fintha (HUN) who had also officiated at last year’s Final. Chardon, who won the FEI World Cup Driving Final in 2005 alongside Michael Freund (GER) and again in 2006, took some significant risks by using a shortcut in the last phase of the course. He managed to overtake by six seconds Daniel Schneiders, who had been in the lead until that moment, and won the competition.
Daniel Schneiders drove his mixed team of German and Dutch warmblood geldings in a safe manner and managed to beat Koos de Ronde’s time by 0.59 seconds taking second place. The 33-year-old farrier thoroughly enjoys the FEI World Cup Driving circuit in which he competes for the first time.
Reigning World Cup Koos de Ronde used his new chestnut gelding Zimba for the first time in the wheel at a World Cup event. Zimba is replacing the experienced piebald gelding Mario, who was injured halfway through the season. De Ronde’s performance was on the safe side but the Dutch driver was nevertheless pleased with his third place.
Four-time FEI World Cup Driving champion Boyd Exell found the right speed and was well on his way to victory when his left leader horse hit a ball off the last pair of cones dropping the team to fourth place. The time difference between Exell and leader Chardon is however only 4.17 seconds which guarantees an exciting final.
Tomas Eriksson (SWE) drove a clear round but failed to reach the necessary speed whereas European and Dutch national champion Theo Timmerman was a bit too impatient and had a knockdown dropping to sixth place.
By winning the first round, IJsbrand Chardon will be the last starter in the final on Sunday afternoon. Runner-up Daniel Schneiders will have to make up only 2.61 seconds to catch up, closely followed by third-placed Koos de Ronde who is 2.96 seconds behind the leader.
Chardon is well aware he cannot take anything for granted as his rivals are very focused and one knockdown can make or break a champion.
The course in the FEI World Cup Driving Final will remain the same as during the first competition. The course for the Winning Round, for which only the best three drivers will qualify, will also remain unchanged.
Results of the first competition CAI-W Final Bordeaux (FRA), 8 February 2014:
Rank-Driver-NF-time-pen-penalty seconds behind the winner
- IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 122,86 (0), 0
- Daniel Schneiders (GER) 128,19 (0), 2,61
- Koos de Ronde (NED) 128,78 (0), 2,96
- Boyd Exell (AUS) 131,20 (5), 4,17
- Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 133,01 (0) 5,51
- Theo Timmerman (NED) 133,80 (5), 6,97
- Thibault Coudry (FRA), EL