“Luckily the horses were just brilliant and dug deep and came through for me,” said Exell. “Winning the title is a relief. It feels like a job finished off, because we had a good start to the season and we were trying new horses."
“Then the last two shows I won the first two rounds and then lost in the drive off in Leipzig and Olympia, so it felt like unfinished business until now.”
It was another superb indoor season for Exell, navigator Emma Olsen and backstepper Hugh Scott-Barrett, who won three of the opening four races. However, after the Australian’s victory in Geneva, Ijsbrand Chardon, Bram Chardon and Voutaz showed that he would not be having it all his own way. While Exell appreciates the wealth of talent coming through, with 25-year-old Bram taking fourth place in Bordeaux, he remains focussed on his own position at the forefront of Driving.
“Does it feel nice that the others are coming through?” he pondered. “I don’t know about that! It’s good for the sport. The public loved it. It was a really good final and Bordeaux gave us a good finish to the season. Now I’m looking forward to the outdoors.”
Exell also paid tribute to the course set up by Jeroen Houterman, believing the two sets of obstacles, nine pairs of cones, a bridge, and a speedbox helped to make for a dramatic final.
“There was no room for error, but that’s what a good final should be,” Exell said.
“The drive off was a little bit as we thought. We thought Bram would be fast and Glenn Geerts would go for it. They lost a little bit of composure at the end of the course. Jerome went up a level, and had no choice but to go for it.
“We planned to use their balls and go a bit steady, but then we hit the last ball on the way out. I thought I’d got through but then eased off and they fell over. In the next round Jerome did well. He put pressure on with a fast time. We had to go fast, and then I had to live on instincts and drive."