Koos De Ronde (NED) won his first qualifier of the FEI World Cup™ Driving 2014/15 season held at Budapest (HUN) today. Photo: Krisztina Hadju/FEI.
By Cindy Timmer
Dutch driver Koos de Ronde won his first FEI World Cup™ Driving qualifier of the season in Budapest (HUN) today. Thanks to his wonderful fast and clear round, De Ronde put fellow countryman IJsbrand Chardon, who was just under two seconds ahead of him, under pressure. Chardon recorded the fastest time in the Laszlo Papp Arena, but had two knockdowns and finished second, ahead of home driver József Dobrovitz.
De Ronde started in Budapest for the first time with his new four-in-hand and put his foot down straight away. The FEI World Cup™ Driving 2013 champion used to drive his father's team of piebald geldings but as the horses were getting older, he attempted to gradually renew his four-in-hand during the previous seasons. De Ronde was not pleased with the changes and at the end of last season he decided to go for a completely new team of indoor horses. His leader horses Joep and Kasper were previously part of fellow Dutch driver Theo Timmerman's indoor team. The new wheeler Sarasko was formerly owned by US driver Misdee Wrigley-Miller who used him in her horse pair. His other wheeler Celina has been part of De Ronde's indoor team since 2013.
De Ronde's team went through the course built by Hungarian world championship course designer Gábor Fintha in a confident way. The course proved challenging and turned out to be more difficult than it had initially appeared. It included technical parts along with fast lines and mistakes were made in different places. The spectacular fireworks that went off as the drivers crossed the bridge gave an extra dimension to the competition.
The member of the gold-winning Dutch team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy had one knockdown in the first round, but kept clear in the very fast Winning Round which took place over a shortened course. This is the first time that Koos de Ronde has won the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Budapest.
IJsbrand Chardon was last to go in the Winning Round and used one different wheeler horse in comparison to last week's competition in Stuttgart (GER). Chardon knew that De Ronde had driven a fast and clear round and that he only held a 1.82-second advantage over his teammate. Unfortunately, the lack of experience of his wheeler horse caused one knockdown at the start of the course. Chardon decided to take more risks and went even faster. A second ball fell which caused him to drop to second place.
For József Dobrovitz Budapest is always a very special show as he lives only 20 km away in Vecsés, where he organises a four-star international outdoor driving event each year. In Stuttgart he felt his horses were too strong, so he changed one leader horse and one wheeler horse. His left leader Kinzhal is an Orlov trotter, which he also uses outdoors in the marathon and cones. His other leader Alex was previously owned by Jozsef Bozsik (HUN) and has been at Dobrovitz's horse farm since April. Dobrovitz performed two good rounds in front of his home crowd, but a knockdown in each round prevented him from winning. Dobrovitz, whose father Dobrovitz Sr was honoured in the arena in Budapest for his 75th birthday and his contribution to the carriage driving sport, finished in third place.
German driver Georg von Stein was pleased with his fourth place. The reigning national champion competed on home ground in Stuttgart with a wildcard where he finished in fifth place. His team, with two Lipizzaner geldings in the lead, remained unchanged and led him to fourth place in Budapest today.
Wildcard driver József Dobrovitz Jr used two new horses in his team and realised how difficult it was to take part in indoor competitions with an inexperienced team. 'Joci' was nevertheless pleased with his wild card and with his fifth place.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 marathon winner Christoph Sandmann (GER) changed one leader horse after the first competition in Budapest, but lacked the necessary speed for a high placing and finished sixth.
Second wildcard driver, Dobrovitz's cousin Márk Ozstertág (HUN), completed the family's dominance in Budapest and finished seventh. Mark and his brother Krisztóf, who was navigating for his uncle József Dobrovitz, both drove a six-in-hand during an impressive demonstration alongside Dobrovitz and Dobrovitz Jr.
Koos de Ronde (NED): "It takes some time to get the settings right for my new team. I made changes to the bits of my leader horses and they were fantastic in the arena. I knew that I could not afford a bad placing because I only have three competitions, so I did a steady first round and went for it in the second round. I also realise that you sometimes also need a bit of luck. It is a big thrill to make it to the Winning Round and I am very happy that I won."
Ijsbrand Chardon (NED): "I liked the course a lot, Fintha is the best course designer in my opinion. I always compete to win and if you want to win, you sometimes have to take risks. I had the same split times as Koos and my team is very fast in the obstacles, but when the first ball fell I had to take more risks and this did not turn out well for me."
József Dobrovitz (HUN): "My wheeler horses are both very experienced. The feeling on the first night was much better than in Stuttgart, I could turn them any way I wanted. For this team, it doesn't matter if the course is technical or fast, they do well in both. I did not have a specific tactics for the World Cup competition, I just tried to drive fast and clear. Unfortunately I made a mistake but I am nevertheless happy with my third place."
Results FEI World Cup™ Driving, Budapest (HUN), 30 November 2014:
Koos de Ronde (NED) 227,76
IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 233,03
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 239,34
Georg von Stein (GER) 133,15
József Dobrovitz jr. (HUN) 134,88
Christoph Sandmann (GER) 137,42
Mark Osztertág (HUN) 151,79
FEI World Cup™ Driving, standings after 2 of 7 events:
1 IJsbrand CHARDON NED 14
2 Boyd EXELL AUS 10
Koos DE RONDE NED 10
4 Jozsef DOBROVITZ HUN 8
5 Christoph SANDMANN GER 7
6 Georg VON STEIN GER 3
7 Glenn GEERTS BEL 2