2018: A
Year in
Driving and
Endurance

27 December 2018

Richard Mulligan looks back on the last 12 months in Driving and Endurance...

It was again Boyd Exell’s year in Driving as the Australian took gold at the two biggest events, the FEI World Equestrian Games™ and FEI Driving World Cup™.

 

Exell retained his WEG title in Tryon in September in what was a thrilling final day of action as he overcame Chester Weber for the Individual prize, although the American had the satisfaction of securing the Team title.

 

Weber had been jubilant after an immaculate final round which ensured his US team would finish ahead of the Netherlands and Belgium on the podium.

 

But Exell was not to be denied and an impressive last outing was enough to confirm a nine-point advantage over Weber, with Belgium’s Edouard Simonet in third. Exell’s crack team of Carlos, Celviro, Checkmate, Daphne and Zindgraaf proved too strong yet again, leading at the end of all three days to make sure of a third consecutive WEG title.

Exell had started the year in the same victorious manner as he secured his eighth FEI Driving World Cup™ title in Bordeaux in February.

Exell and his foursome of Demi, Clinton Star, Bajnok and newcomer Conversano Poker sped around Jeroen Houtermann’s course to victory nearly five seconds ahead of his closest competitor in a nail-biting drive off. He completed a clean run with a time of 297.42, having carried over 154.55 seconds from the first round.

 

Second place went to Jerome Voutaz, who overcame a back injury to finish in a rapid time of 302.91, including five penalty seconds picked up in the second half of the course.

 

Former FEI Driving World Cup™ winner Koos de Ronde took third place, which was an achievement in itself after he picked up penalty points early on.

 

 

Young Bram Chardon took fourth place in what was to be a breakthrough year for the young Dutchman. Having secured his maiden FEI Driving World Cup™ win in Mechelen in the final days of 2017, he finished 2018 with a win in Budapest and runners’ up spot in Geneva.

 

His father Ijsbrand showed that he is also still a force to be reckoned with as he took first place in Stuttgart in November, just edging out Glenn Geerts and József Dobrovitz. De Ronde and Voutaz also look in good nick after claiming FEI Driving World Cup™ wins in Maastricht and Lyon respectively.

 

However, as athletes and their teams begin to make plans for 2019, and another final date in Bordeaux in February, Exell recently showed with wins in Stockholm, Geneva and Olympia that he’ll surely again be the man to beat.

Young riders and horses were among those who impressed most during the year in Endurance, the discipline which puts human and equine stamina and determination to the test.

The FEI European Championships for Young Riders & Juniors took place in Pisa, Italy in July over a 120km course. Spain’s Raquel Costa Codina took the Individual title with bay Tunez Costa ahead of Slovakia’s Micahela Supekova and France’s Lilou Tomas Arnoud.

 

Codina made it a double victory as she also helped Spain to the Team prize, as they edged host nation Italy into second place.

 

In September, the World Endurance Championship for Young Horses was staged in Šamorín, Slovakia.

 

 

It was a good event for athletes and horses from the Middle East region, with UAE’s Al Abbar Mohd finishing first on Gelny, ahead of Qatar’s Al Nuaimi Khalid Sanad and Mohammad Atta Mohammad.

 

The Endurance event at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ had to be cancelled due to concerns over horse welfare and weather conditions in Tryon, North Carolina.

 

Catch all the equestrian sports action throughout 2019 on FEI TV

 

Words by Richard Mulligan

Images by Chantal Sikkink / Leanjo de Koster / Liz Gregg / Richard Juilliart