23 August 2017

Speed, agility, power & control.

FEI Driving Four-In-Hand has it all and this week in Gothenburg as the best in Europe will join those from Jumping, Dressage & Para Dressage to find out who will be crowned Individual & Team European Champions 2017.


9 countries, 21 athletes & 105 horses will compete and the starting list is packed with medal winners.


With most of last year’s top-10 drivers in the World in attendance, this promises to be a gripping championship.


After the three phases: dressage, marathon & obstacle cone competitions are complete, we’ll know who will be crowned the Longines FEI European Champion 2017.



Dressage First…


The driving competition will get underway today with the dressage test which will be at Heden stadium. Taking place in walk and at the trot, the drivers and their horses must complete a set program designed to test their ability.


When watching the dressage test you'll see some old-school elegance as the drivers are geared up in shirts, ties and top hats and the carriages are beautiful.  A far cry from the marathon to come!  


The ability of the horse contributes to the overall impression & the judge’s final mark.


It is vitally important that the drivers have a good showing in the dressage test. In this tough competition there is little margin for error.


The Netherlands will be looking for their 3rd consecutive European team title

Of the three phases the marathon promises to be a real show stopper!

Taking place through the heart of the city in Gothenburg, the competition will get underway at the Heden Arena and finish at the Slottsskogen City Park. 


Unbelievable driving coupled with the stunning backdrop of the city – this will make for an unforgettable spectacle.


The 8km marathon course will not only prove a test of endurance and stamina, but with complex gates to navigate each driver and their team will need exceptional balance & precision. The intricate gates which will be completed at speed will test the horse’s flexibility & strength.



Take a moment to appreciate the gates. They are a sight to behold in themselves.  Over bridges, through water, these maze like obstacles are designed to be the toughest test to the drivers and with the clock ticking the drivers must have razor sharp focus in order to complete them as quickly as possible.


This is the ultimate test of communication between the driver, groom, navigator & the horses. The marathon will leave you awe-inspired.


The Final Challenge…


Technical precision is a must for the cone challenge. The slightest mistake can result in a ball dropping and penalty points incurring.  There is no margin for error especially in the last of the three phases before we know who has the fewest penalty points and will be crowned Longines FEI European Driving Champion 2017.



Against the odds, with the title on the line, it will make for a tense nail-biting final challenge. The crowd will go crazy & with the added pressure of the team competition - who will hold their nerve?




Two weeks prior to the European Championships, Swedish driver Johan Dengg suffered the misfortune of having two horses injured.  Testament to the class & camaraderie that exists within the driving community, British driver Wilf Bowman-Ripley lent Johan two of his horses in order for him to be able to compete at his home championships.


“It was very nice of him.  He understands what this Championship means to us Swedes”

Johan Dengg (on Wilf Bowman-Ripley)




With the reigning European Champion Michael Brauchle from Germany missing out on a place on the German team, a new FEI European Champion will be crowned. The Dutch drivers, in particular 2015 silver medallist Ijsbrand Chardon & bronze medallist Koos de Ronde, will both be looking to fight for the individual gold medal.


After coming 2nd to Boyd Exell at last year’s FEI World Championships, 4 time World champion Chardon will draw on all his experience and comes into the competition as favourite. However 2013 European Champion Theo Timmerman will also be looking to reclaim his title.


Keep an eye out for the young Belgian drivers especially Edouard Simonet.


In this game anything can happen…


Are the Netherlands unbeatable?


With the top two individual scores counting can anyone break the Dutch dominance of recent years?



The Netherlands will be looking for their 3rd consecutive European team title.  The team of Ijsbrand Chardon, Koos de Ronde & Theo Timmerman who together won the 2015 European Championship will compete again in Gothenburg and will once again be favourites heading into the team competition.


Last year at the World Championships in Breda the Netherlands came out top ahead of Hungary (silver) & Germany (bronze).  Can Germany or Hungary spoil the party for the Dutch drivers?


While Switzerland & Belgium will also be looking to podium, Sweden will be hoping to pull off the dream scenario of medalling in front of the home crowd.



The Ultimate Test…


Driving highlights the sheer athleticism required by the horses to be able to compete at the highest level of this sport.  A sport which not only challenges the horses physically but mentally as well.


Follow all the action LIVE over on FEI TV