Even with cones down at 10 and 13, saddling him with 10 penalty seconds, de Ronde was able to finish with a combined final time of 247.74 seconds.
In the navigator’s seat for the winning ride was de Ronde’s wife Marie de Ronde-Oudemans, who only just made it to Budapest at 1am on the day of the competition, due to foggy airport conditions at home in Holland.
Excitement in the arena was palpable as multiple top teams assembled for this leg of the of the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition.
Four of the teams included father-son competitors. Bram Chardon of the Netherlands went up against his father, Ijsbrand Chardon, a world and European champion many times over. Wildcard team József Jr. Dobrovitz challenged his father József Dobrovitz, another wildcard entry for the host nation of Hungary, on the course as well.
There was no room for hesitation and few places to make up speed on the straightforward, but difficult, Budapest course made up of cones and tight marathon obstacles.
Jérôme Voutaz thundered with his four Swiss Freiberger horses to first place (116.81 seconds) in round one, after a clear run featuring a brilliant move of cutting inside at the end to gain time and take the lead. Voutaz will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming Vienna qualifier, where he will compete as a wildcard entry.
Ijsbrand Chardon finished second with a clear run in round one (116.88 seconds), during which cries of encouragement for his horses could be heard reverberating through the arena. Unlike in dressage, driving allows vocal aids to be used in competition.