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Boyd Exell regains his crown with ninth FEI Driving World Cup Final win

Boyd Exell and his team win the FEI World Cup Final for the ninth time. © FEI /Richard Juilliart

Boyd Exell and his team win the FEI World Cup Final for the ninth time.

© FEI /Richard Juilliart

 

By Kirsty Pasto

And the winner is… Boyd Exell!

As adrenaline rushed, Boyd Exell kept his famous cool attitude to be crowned the FEI Driving World Cup Final Champion an astonishing NINTH time! Absolutely flawless, Boyd and the team navigated the track with flair and skill that blows our MIND!

Dutch driver Koos de Ronde took home the silver, while his compatriot Ijsbrand Chardon won bronze. Title defender Bram Chardon finished in fourth position in the 19th edition of the Final which took place in Bordeaux, France.

Dutch designer Johan Jacobs set a daunting course that included two sets of marathon obstacles, as well as a bridge and a tight speed box...

Heading into Day 2 of the Finals, scores from the previous day were converted to penalty points and carried over, meaning Driving teams would have to overcome any time faults to advance to the drive off for a chance at the title. Only two teams went clear on Saturday: József Dobrovitz of Hungary, who was third on the leaderboard, and Koos de Ronde, who entered Day 2 on zero penalty points in first place. In between them was eight-time champion Boyd Exell, eager to regain his title and well poised to do so.

Boyd was very pleased to retain his title again: “I have a very fast team and I knew that if I could do a clear round, I could put the pressure on Koos.” Boyd started on 3,74 seconds behind Koos after the first competition, in which he had a communication error with his horses: “My horses were flying and I was too far ahead so they took a gap too early. I made sure they I recovered and our speed kept us in placing.” Boyd admitted he was not focused on Saturday, but today there was nothing to disturb his concentration. Boyd did cause a breathtaking moment however when his team went a bit too fast towards the bridge: “I had a super racing line but I did not want to hit two balls, so I told them to wait and I was able to correct them.” Boyd herewith finished on the highest step on the World Cup podium again. He dedicated this win to his wife Preetha and his daughter Olivia who is in hospital at this moment recovering from a fall from her pony.

The crowd fell silent until the bell rang for Exell’s ultimate round...

Exell's navigator Emma Olsen and backstepper Hugh Scott-Barrett hung perilously off the back of the rig to shave microseconds off their time. Their risks paid off, as the four-horse team of Bajnok, Barny, Rocket, and Demi, who was retired later that day at a miraculous 23 years old, crossed the Longines beam in only 119.81 seconds. With no penalties, that gave the Australian champ a total of 260.93 and the FEI Driving World Cup™ title once again. 

Said Exell of his amazing win, “I think a bit more pressure on this one because I’ve got the fastest team in the world, but last year we had the big mistake. We said, listen, we know we’re at least 4 to 5, maybe 6, seconds faster than Koos. I need to drive clear, and I need to drive fast. Even if I have a ball, then I’ve still got a fast time.” The strategy worked, in what was an emotional victory for Exell, with his daughter in hospital recovering from an accident. “I tried to do it for her--especially for her and my wife,” he added tearfully before the prize giving, where he remained ever the humble champion giving credit to his Driving team and incredible horses.

After the prize giving ceremony Boyd said farewell in the arena to his loyal 23-year-old wheeler horse Demi. The Swedish bred mare contributed to many indoor successes and can now enjoy her retirement: “She is still fit, but sometimes you just know when it is time to stop. My groom Emma is interested in breeding with her. She already has several children, one of her sons is actually a driving horse which is part of the Swedish team driver Axel Olin.”

Full results can be found here.

Source: Equestrian Australia (EA) website

 

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