Dutch Drivers Take Early Lead at World Equestrian Games

The first day of the driven dressage, part of the FEI World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2014 in Normandy kicked off this morning at the La Prairie racecourse in Caen, France. Twenty-three drivers performed their tests in front of 3,000 spectators from all over the world.

IJsbrand Chardon (NED) set the provisional winning score from the onset driving his team of mixed warmblood horses. The four-time world champion had an early start and prepared his horses before sunrise for their performance in the arena.

“I was not pleased with the fact that I had to warm up my horses in the dark early this morning,” he said after completing his test.

Despite the early start, Chardon’s horses showed good balance forming a perfect block. The Dutch driver, who was assisted on the dressage carriage by two of his daughters, has been working hard all year to find the right set up for his team and performed his best test of the season.

His compatriot Koos de Ronde drove his team of showing chestnut horses to second place. De Ronde, who finished fifth at the Alltech FEI WEG 2010 in Kentucky, is aiming for a top-five placing in Normandy. The 37-year-old marathon-and-cones specialist said he was happy with his horses despite a few mistakes and is looking forward to the remaining competition phases.

“I made two mistakes, my right leader horses cantered twice, which was a pity, and I had a mistake in the walk,” De Ronde acknowledged. “But the preparation was good--the horses just get a bit too excited in the arena.”

Christoph Sandmann (GER) is currently lying in third place. Sandmann drove a good test with his team of KWPN geldings. Some of these horses are used by his daughter Anna in her pair with which she successfully competes at international level. Sandmann, who has competed at every FEI WEG since 1990, was not pleased he had to compete on the first dressage day, but since the starting order was determined by a draw, he accepted the decision graciously.

“I am pleased with my horses and with my test, but not so pleased with my points,” he commented. “I feel it was one of my best dressage tests of this season.”

The provisional fourth place went to Fredrik Persson (SWE), followed by Ernesto Colman Mena (URU); Edouard Simonet (BEL), for whom this is a first world championship; and Wilf Bowman-Ripley (GBR). The best French performance came from team member Benjamin Aillaud, who drove his team of KWPN-geldings to eighth place.

Driven dressage will resume tomorrow with Poland’s Piotr Mazurek (POL) first in the arena at 9:30 CEST. All eyes will be on reigning European champion Theo Timmerman (NED), reigning world champion Boyd Exell (AUS), and 2012 silver medalist and current number one on the FEI World Driving Rankings, Chester Weber (USA).

The last competitor in the arena will be József Dobrovitz of Hungary.

Provisional results Driven Dressage after Day 1:
1. IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 42,12
2. Koos de Ronde (NED) 46,25
3. Christoph Sandmann (GER) 47,13
4. Fredrik Persson (SWE) 51,74
5. Ernesto Colman Mena (URU) 53,21

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners