Double orange lead in Driving dressage

Same orange colour still in front at the Driving world championship of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games but now it comes in double strength. Driving icon Ijsbrand Chardon has kept the lead after the first day of dressage and is now supported by Koos de Ronde in second position (46.25).  Team mate de Ronde drove the quartet of chestnuts with chrome, so typical for him, nicely collected and well forward but not mistake-free. “I was hoping for 45 points”, he said, but one canter break and a disturbance in the extended trot put an end to that.

Double orange lead in Driving dressage
© PSV Photos

German Christoph Sandmann held on to the provisional third position (47.13). He is now trailed by Fredrik Persson from Sweden. The experienced world’s ranking no.10, at his third WEG and eight times at world championships, drove to 51.74 points, just below his goal of 52. He used the same team like in his last competition in Riesenbeck/Germany,  where he came third but changed the positions on the left. “That worked well in this arena”, the 41 year-old double national champion said afterwards.

Uruguay’s individual driver Ernesto Colman Mena was a surprise in fifth position with his expertly presented blacks, finishing on 53.27 in front of Belgian youngster Edouard Simonet close behind. The 24-year-old who started as a child with singles was satisfied with the result. “It is always hard to get points on day one.” For what the Boyd Exell-trained called “his best performance” he praised his dark Arab-Friesian horses. “They were calm and well adapted.”

Wilf Bowman-Ripley put in the best performance for team GB, now sitting in seventh position. The nephew to Britain’s “grandfather of driving”, George Bowman – at 78 the non-travelling reserve of the British team - had expected better, but had last minute horse problems and left his most experienced horse at home. He had to take his left wheeler up to the front and was then facing problem because the two front horses were not well enough used to each other, resulting in tension in walk.

Best performing French team driver Benjamin Aillaud sits in eights position (55.16), facing one disturbance when his right leader was shaken by a moving camera. American Alison “Lisa” Stroud, coming out as the last competitor of the day, drove stylishly to ninth place, her chestnuts that she bought only some months ago from Daniel Schneider in Germany, showing flamboyant knee action that drivers appreciate. “They were with me down to the last line. You have to feel the energy in your hands. It is magic”, said the 61-year old who had moved on to horses after showing ponies at nine national and six world championships.

The dressage phase of Driving continues on Friday. The solid Dutch team position can become even stronger then because they have dressage expert Theo Timmerman still to drive. And a dressage phase is never over until defending titlist Boyd Exell from Australia has not been matched against leading American Chester Weber, aptly named “Mr. Dressage”. The competition at La Prairie Racecourse opens at 9.30 with Poland’s Piotr Mazurek first out in the arena.

Top 5 leaders (provisional)

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

 CLICK HERE for more provisional results

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