10.10.10

Exell Makes Australian History In Driving World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 9:31 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Boyd Exell accomplished something today that no other Australian has ever done at a previous Driving World Championships—he won the individual gold medal, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

With one ball down in the obstacles phase, held in front of a packed Driving Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, Exell (134.04) edged Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands (135.24) and Tucker Johnson of the United States (150.06).

Johnson is the second four-in-hand driving medalist in the history of the U.S. team, and he led teammates Chester Weber (who was the first U.S. individual medalist, winning individual silver in 2008) and James Fairclough to the team silver medal (330.92). This is the second team silver medal this trio has won at the World Equestrian Games. (The first was in 2002.)

Chardon, a four-time individual world champion, led the Netherlands to the team gold medal (279.77), the third time they’ve won the team gold medal in the World Equestrian Games. Germany moved up to the bronze medal (322.20) when Tomas Eriksson of Sweden was eliminated for going off course and took his third-placed team with him.

Exell closed out these World Games as the only Australian gold medalist. “I know it sounds like a cliché to say this, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Exell, who drove these championships with a broken left hand, suffered in a riding accident the week before they began.

In 2008, Exell won the individual bronze medal at the Driving World Championships, behind Chardon and Weber. “To get five horses and all the people and your equipment just right for one weekend is a huge task, and we’ve been trying to do it for 10 years. You get to the point where you can do it regularly, like we have, and then you have to be lucky to win.”

Exell, 38, added, “I left Australia at 21 and said I wasn’t coming home until I won the World Championship.”

Johnson, 46, said again that this would be his final world championship, that he is retiring from international competition.

“I won’t change my decision. We’ve all three been doing this for a long time, and it’s time for me to move on,” Johnson said. “This felt good. Not everyone gets a chance to end something on such a high note. It was a grand end to a lot of experiences.”

All three team members said that the World Equestrian Games being in Lexington had spurred on the team’s performance.

“Our program and our team—along with the program at the U.S. Equestrian Federation—all came together for this medal here,” said Fairclough.

“It’s been a whole group effort, and you feel like the whole nation is behind you here,” said Johnson.

Weber believes that the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will have a lasting effect on driving in the United States. “There’s a future of driving in the U.S. because of these games,” he said. “Having the WEG here really got us going, and now, with Tucker leaving, Jimmy and I are looking forward to being the foundation of our team in the future.”

Exell Stays On Top With Fast Marathon In Driving World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 3:40 am by Press Release

Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell

Lexington, KY— Australia’s Boyd Exell drove the day’s third-fastest marathon to maintain the lead he took in the first phase of Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Second-placed Ijsbrand Chardon has put the Dutch team in front (273.77), while third-placed Tucker Johnson is leading the U.S. team’s charge for second place (300.92). Sweden is third (311.24).

“Normally on most marathons you’ll have one little something somewhere, but today seemed almost perfect. Even going safe we were still fast, “ said Exell, 38. “I wanted to go fast enough to put pressure on Chardon, but not make mistakes. The horses were machines out there, they just really did it on their own.”

Exell, along with teammate Gavin Robson, has put Australia in the team medal hunt too. They’re in fourth, with 311.99 penalties, just behind Sweden. Australia has never won a team medal at the Driving World Championships.

Chardon, a former multiple-time world champion and one of the sport’s fastest marathon drivers, was only 5.89 points behind Exell after dressage. Today he drove the fastest total time in the eight obstacles of the 25 drivers, scoring 4.17 penalties fewer than Exell. The gap between them is now only 2.72 points.

“Today my goal was to go fast, and tonight I will sleep very well and prepare to have no faults and put the pressure on Boyd tomorrow,” said Chardon, 49.

Johnson’s total puts him 14.82 points behind Chardon, but the next three drivers are only slightly more than 4 points behind him. He said he’d like very much to win an individual medal in his final World Championship before he retires from international competition. He won the team silver medal in 1992 and the team gold medal in pairs driving in 1991.

“I’m gong to go clean tomorrow. That’s my goal,” he insisted.

Johnson, 46, concluded his marathon by saluting the cheering spectators with a raised fist after exiting the last obstacle. “It was a bittersweet moment for me, and I wanted to thank the crowd. I felt a little sadness that it was over and happiness for my performance. Given all the circumstances, I think my last marathon may be my best,” he said.

He added that teammates Chester Weber and Jimmy Fairclough had suffered bad luck before he started, both of them getting penalties for putting grooms down in an obstacle. Those penalties, combined with the speed of Chardon and teammate Theo Timmerman today, broke the tie between the Netherlands and the United States for first place after dressage.

Driving concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with the obstacles phase in the driving arena, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

l drove the day’s third-fastest marathon to maintain the lead he took in the first phase of Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Second-placed Ijsbrand Chardon has put the Dutch team in front (273.77), while third-placed Tucker Johnson is leading the U.S. team’s charge for second place (300.92). Sweden is third (311.24).

“Normally on most marathons you’ll have one little something somewhere, but today seemed almost perfect. Even going safe we were still fast, “ said Exell, 38. “I wanted to go fast enough to put pressure on Chardon, but not make mistakes. The horses were machines out there, they just really did it on their own.”

Exell, along with teammate Gavin Robson, has put Australia in the team medal hunt too. They’re in fourth, with 311.99 penalties, just behind Sweden. Australia has never won a team medal at the Driving World Championships.

Chardon, a former multiple-time world champion and one of the sport’s fastest marathon drivers, was only 5.89 points behind Exell after dressage. Today he drove the fastest total time in the eight obstacles of the 25 drivers, scoring 4.17 penalties fewer than Exell. The gap between them is now only 2.72 points.

“Today my goal was to go fast, and tonight I will sleep very well and prepare to have no faults and put the pressure on Boyd tomorrow,” said Chardon, 49.

Johnson’s total puts him 14.82 points behind Chardon, but the next three drivers are only slightly more than 4 points behind him. He said he’d like very much to win an individual medal in his final World Championship before he retires from international competition. He won the team silver medal in 1992 and the team gold medal in pairs driving in 1991.

“I’m gong to go clean tomorrow. That’s my goal,” he insisted.

Johnson, 46, concluded his marathon by saluting the cheering spectators with a raised fist after exiting the last obstacle. “It was a bittersweet moment for me, and I wanted to thank the crowd. I felt a little sadness that it was over and happiness for my performance. Given all the circumstances, I think my last marathon may be my best,” he said.

He added that teammates Chester Weber and Jimmy Fairclough had suffered bad luck before he started, both of them getting penalties for putting grooms down in an obstacle. Those penalties, combined with the speed of Chardon and teammate Theo Timmerman today, broke the tie between the Netherlands and the United States for first place after dressage.

Driving concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with the obstacles phase in the driving arena, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

10.08.10

The Leaders Are All Tied Up In Driving World Championships at 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:49 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY — Ties almost never happen in four-in-hand driving, but they’re the rule of the day at the Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The United States and the Netherlands are tied for first in the race for the team medals, at 76.16 penalties, with their top two drivers tied for second and fourth.

The only clear leader is Boyd Exell of Australia, who drove his team to a five-point lead in dressage, scoring 30.08 penalties, the best dressage score ever recorded in a World Championship. Chester Weber of the USA and Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands are tied for second (35.97), and Tucker Johnson of the USA and Theo Timmerman of the Netherlands are tied for fourth (40.19).

“I think I’ve seen maybe two ties in 20 years, so to have the teams and the four of us tied is amazing,” said Johnson.

The third members of their teams—Jimmy Fairclough for the USA and Koos de Ronde for the Netherlands—are in ninth and 10th places, separated by only .25 penalties.

Exell drove his team of mixed warmbloods to the record score, even though he injured his hand last week. “I was jumping cross-country for fun, and I fell and broke a bone in my left hand. I was struggling a bit with it yesterday, but the Aussie team got me a good kit and it was all right today. I lost my grip twice, but the leaders covered it up for me,” he said.

Despite his hand, Exell enjoyed his test. “I had to stop myself from smiling in there,” he said. “They were doing it all on their own, the circles, the corners—everything. My grooms helped by telling me to warm up for 20 minutes less.”

Johnson’s team included a horse Exell loaned him, the left leader, named Black Shadow. “I call him Boyd when I’m mad at him,” said Johnson with a smile. Johnson, 46, said today that these World Championships would be his final competition.

Exell, 38, said he had no second thoughts about loaning the horse to Johnson. “Tucker has been a great advocate of the sport for 30 years, and he’s never asked for anything in return,” said Exell. “I saw him struggling a bit with horsepower at Aachen [Germany], and I made the offer. I said I’d split the prize money with him if he won.”

The two drivers agreed on their expectations for tomorrow’s marathon, in which the 25 drivers will journey around almost the entire Kentucky Horse Park. Richard Nicoll of the United State has designed the eight obstacles they’ll negotiate.

“It’s a more open course than we have been used to, but that still brings problems, because we can go faster and make more mistakes,” said Exell.

Said Johnson, “I think you’re going to seeing some really fast driving because it’s so open. It will be a test for me because I’ll be driving fast enough to make a lot of mistakes.”

10.07.10

IJsbrand Chardon and Chester Weber Share Lead After First Day Of Driving World Championships At The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 10:07 pm by Press Release

Lexington, Ky.,–The battle has begun for the Individual and Team medals in the Four-In-Hand Driving World Championships, held as part of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and tied for the top spot are two of the sport’s biggest names.

IJsbrand Chardon of The Netherlands, was the second driver in the arena for the opening Dressage phase, and he turned in a spectacular performance to score a 35.97.

In the next to last position was Chester Weber, driving for the United States, and he turned in the identical score to stand tied with Chardon for first place.

Neither Chardon nor Weber is a stranger to this top level of competition.  Chardon, a legend in the sport of Driving, has been Dutch National Champion twenty-one times and has won medals in four World Equestrian Games, including Team and Individual Gold.  Weber has won eight consecutive U.S. National Championships and has a Team Silver Medal from the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

“The horses went well,” commented Chardon after his test. “The field was very good and I had a good feeling about the test. I had a little mistake at the walk, but that is the game.

“I have good horses.  As part of their training we ride them three times a week, this gives them their light feel and responsiveness which is so important.  We are very happy with our test and are looking forward to the marathon competition.  The course is very technical and long, with long gallops.  I am looking forward to a good fight on Saturday.”

“IJsbrand drove a nice, harmonious, risk-free test and certainly got rewarded for it,” commented Weber.   “I, together with the chef d’equipe, made a hard strategic decision to stay domestic this summer and not to compete at the major European venues, so I was anxious about the dressage.  I think that the extended trot from my team was great — clearly where it’s at.  Their movement was fantastic. They really woke up in the arena. I was a little bit unfortunate with the back, which cost me points, but the horses seem to be fit and in top form. I’m pleased with them.

“The arena is good.  It looks like they watered it quite a bit recently so it actually pulls a lot heavier than the dried up ground out here.  The marathon course looks like it’s going to be good sport regardless. There’s nothing for free here.  The challenge with the hills is that you are pushing them going up and supporting them coming down.  It will pay off for the teams that have horses with power left at the end. We’ve worked a lot on the marathon recently.  The team coaches here have been helping me a lot.  We’re going to go out and do our best and see what it all looks like on Sunday afternoon.”

Standing in third place is Theo Timmerman, also of The Netherlands.  His score of 40.19 belies the youth of his team, as the oldest horse is merely nine, and his two wheel horses have only been working together this year.

“I am happy about my horses today,” said Timmerman.  “We will wait and see what happens tomorrow with the other drivers.

The provisional Team scores after this first day of competition places The Netherlands solidly in first place with a score of 76.16, followed by the United States with 87.94 and Germany with 103.04.

The Driving World Championships continue Friday, October 8, with the second half of the Dressage phase, followed on Saturday by the exciting Marathon before concluding on Sunday with the Obstacles competition, after which both Team and Individual Medals will be awarded.

10.06.10

Combined Driving Dressage Day 1: Order of Go

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, World Equestrian Games at 8:39 pm by Thomas

For those looking for the Order of Go for tomorrow’s Combined Driving Dressage the link is below.

Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Combined Driving Dressage Day 1:  Order of Go

Kentucky Colonel
Thomas Demond
KyWEGO

Americans Sweep Presentation To Start Driving World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, World Equestrian Games at 8:31 pm by Thomas

Lexington, KY—The Americans who will be contesting the Driving World Championships wish today’s presentation competition counted toward the medal scores, but they don’t. It was just for fun and beauty—and a bottle of champagne presented to each of the 17 drivers who took part.

The three judges declared Chester Weber the winner, awarding him 49.5 of a possible 50 points. James Fairclough (48.33) and Tucker Johnson (48.17), who’ve been Weber’s championship teammates for most of the last two decades, finished second and third.

The grooms and drivers spent about 10 hours polishing the horses, harnesses and vehicles, before putting on their finest driving livery. Not all drivers in these World Championships took part in this presentation.

Weber, 35, drove his four bay warmblood geldings put to a black dog cart presentation vehicle, finished with maroon-and-white pinstripes, with his wife sitting beside him.

Fairclough, 52, also drove four warmbloods (the wheelers being full sisters), put to a formal black Kuhnle presentation vehicle. Owner Jane F. Clark sat beside him.

Johnson, 46, drove a shooting brake.

Medal competition begins tomorrow (Oct. 6), with the first of two days of dressage. The challenging and exciting marathon will be a feature of the World Games on Saturday, and Sunday’s obstacles phase will climax the Driving World Championships and be the final competition of these World Games.

07.23.10

WEG Course Designer Pleased with Progress

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Construction Status, World Equestrian Games at 7:51 am by Press Release

The driving course designer for the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Richard Nicoll, was recently on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park for several days to work with the course builder, meet with various decorators, and generally check on the progress of the marathon obstacles.

According to Nicoll, construction is now about ninety-five percent complete on the marathon obstacles. Once everything is finished, all that will remain is the decorating. Some of this will need to be completed at the last minute because two obstacles contain portable elements that will be moved into place after the eventing cross-country phase (on the first Saturday during the WEG).

After his meeting with the decorators, Nicoll was pleased to note how enthusiastic and, with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event having been at the KY Horse Park for so many years, how experienced they are. He expects that spectators familiar with driving, and those new to the sport, will be wowed by the beauty of the course.

The drivers themselves may not appreciate the beauty of the obstacles to the same degree that the spectators will, but they will have their own beautiful views earlier in the day. While he was here, Nicoll inspected the course he had laid out for Sections A and D of the marathon. The track does not just go “round and round a field,” as he said, but follows roads, pathways, and pastures through several working farms adjoining the Kentucky Horse Park. So the drivers will get a unique view of some truly beautiful Kentucky countryside and farmland.

Nicoll says that he’s “very encouraged and excited about all the progress that’s been made at the Horse Park.” And he encourages everyone to come out on Saturday, October 9, to watch the driving marathon, if for no other reason than this is probably the only time in our lifetimes that we’ll be able to see so many FEI-level four-in-hand drivers in one North American location. Nicoll recalled how, after the 1993 World Pairs Championship in New Jersey, a number of people said they had heard how wonderful the championship was and how much they regretted having missed it.

“This time around, don’t be someone who regrets not having come to see the driving championship. This is going to be too good to miss!”

10.04.09

Chester Weber Wins Kentucky Cup and Record 7th Consecutive National Title

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Pre-Events at 7:35 pm by Thomas

Lexington, KY – October 4, 2009 –   Chester Weber of Ocala, FL, is now in possession of the 2009 Kentucky Cup, which was a test event for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and a record 7th USEF Four-In-Hand National Championship.    

Weber went into the Cones phase a mere 6.86 points ahead of the pack and maneuvered his team around the course with only a 2.30 time penalty, for a final score of 131.35 to take the title.

“This course was up to international standards,” said Weber.  “The time is always difficult at a Championship and I felt that this was good preparation for next year where we are going to have to fight to make the time.”

Tucker Johnson, Hobe Sound, FL, placed third in the Kentucky Cup and finished as Reserve Champion, in second place behind Weber as the second highest placing US driver in the National Championship race.  Johnson was within the time on the Cones course, but managed to bump two cones and dislodge the balls on top for a penalty score of 6 and a final score of 141.40.    

“This was a good course” said Johnson.  “I was very pleased and thought it was a very appropriate course for the competition.  For next year I plan to build a team from these horses and the team I have in Europe and prepare by competing in Windsor and Aachen.  Now that we have gotten a taste of what the course can be, with the hazards and the hills, I plan on coming back with something that is ready to show.” 

Boyd Exell, from Australia, spent the week chasing Weber and Johnson and after his spectacular Marathon phase and was less than 7 points behind the leaders going into the last phase of competition.  Exell drove his team tight and fast, covering most of the track at an extended trot and crossed the timers with only a penalty of 3, for one ball dropped, for a total of 138.91 and second place in the Kentucky Cup. 

“The course was, just like yesterday’s Marathon, very horse friendly” said Exell.  “It was also nice to watch.  But from my previous competition experience in Europe, this was the most horse friendly.  This was a test event and I anticipate that next year it will go up to WEG standards.” 

Exell is already guaranteed a spot at the 2010 Games representing Australia.  For Weber and Johnson, the Kentucky Cup and USEF National Championship titles are just two among a history of stiff competition between top American drivers. 

“Tucker made me work really hard for this all weekend, harder than in the past,” said Weber.  “I remember watching his dressage and thinking maybe he has got me here.  Cones have been my weakness in the past but this was pretty fluid.  I did use Jamaica at the left wheel today and frankly he gave me a bit of grief.  That’s what I get for trying to give an 18 year-old a break.”

Chester Weber, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Cup

Chester Weber, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Cup

10.02.09

Top Drivers Go Head-to-Head in Kentucky Cup Driving Competition. Weber and Johnson Vie for Record 7th U.S. Four-In-Hand Championship

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Pre-Events, World Equestrian Games at 7:00 am by Thomas

Lexington, KY – October 1, 2009 – A real shootout is underway for the U.S. Four-In-Hand Driving Championship, which will be decided on Sunday at the 2009 Kentucky Cup, a test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, being held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.    

Chester Weber, Ocala, FL, and his team of warmbloods, which includes Jamaica, the 2008 USEF Horse of the Year, turned in a beautiful dressage performance to lead the competition with a score of 40.06.  Weber has won 6 consecutive National titles and is looking for his 7th. 

Also gunning for a record 7th Four-In-Hand National title, and sitting in second place with a score of 41.98, is S. Tucker S. Johnson, Hobe Sound, FL.

“This is so exciting,” said Weber.  “To see so many other American teams competing here.  When I first started driving fours in 1999, it was Tucker and Jimmy (Fairclough) and I think that they were happy to have a third competitor with them.” 

Johnson echoed that sentiment. “Having 16 teams competing here is huge.  It is a great step forward for the US.  In Europe you will see 30 to 40 teams competing at every show.  This shows that we are moving in the right direction with our sport.” 

“I would like to get to the low 30s, which I did with my team last year, but the results today were acceptable”, said Weber.  “The goal is always to win, but with this competition the goal is also next year.” 

Boyd Exell, who hails from Australia, sits in third place behind Weber and Johnson for the Kentucky Cup title with a dressage score of 47.87.  “This is a prep for next year”, said Exell, the 2009 winner of the Four-In Hand at Aachen in Germany, third in the 2008 FEI World Four-in-Hand Championships and winner of the 2008 British National Championship.  “This was the first dressage test these horses have done as a team.  So they did well.  I think that it is great that Tucker is chasing Chester.  I plan on sitting back and picking up the leftovers.” 

Kentucky Cup Driving is both a competition for the National title and a test event for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games, giving these competitors a chance to preview the venue at the Kentucky Horse Park prior to the Games next year.
 
The latest results from this event can be found at www.alltechfeigames.com on the News Headlines.  Also on the site is information on all the test events as well as general information about the upcoming Games.

09.29.09

World Games 2010 Foundation Announces Competitors for Kentucky Cup Driving Test Event

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Pre-Events at 9:13 pm by Thomas

The largest gathering of FEI Four-in-Hand drivers ever in the Americas will go head-to-head October 1-4 at the Kentucky Horse Park for Kentucky Cup Driving, the third official test event for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

The CAI-A competition will be held in conjunction with the annual Lexington Combined Driving Classic, (also the 2009 USEF National Driving Championships), and will feature drivers from Australia, Canada, and the United States.  Several drivers competing in the test event are veterans from previous World Equestrian Games, including current individual silver medalist from the 2008 FEI World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships, Chester Weber. 

Kentucky Cup Driving and the Lexington Combined Driving Classic will be held October 1-4 on the Secretariat Polo Field at the Kentucky Horse Park.  The competition will consist of three phases: dressage, cross-country marathon, and obstacle (“cones”).  The Kentucky Cup Four-in-Hand Dressage will begin on Thursday, October 1, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, all drivers will complete the marathon phase with FEI Four-in-Hand drivers beginning their marathon phase at 2:00 p.m. Sunday will consist of the obstacle phase, with the Kentucky Cup Driving obstacle class starting at noon.

For a complete list of competitors and competition start times, visit the Kentucky Cup Driving test event page of our Web site.

05.31.07

May Update

Posted in Combined Driving, Discussion, Georgetown, Kentucky, Thoroughbred Racing, Updates at 10:16 pm by Thomas

Its the end of May and wanted to give a quick update.

In Kentucky April really kicks off the horse season with the Kentucky Rolex 3-Day Event at the end of the month and then things kick in to overdrive in May with the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in the month. Of course we should say congratulations to Street Sense and his whole crew and to Curlin for running a great race in the Preakness. Hopefully we will get to see these two again in the Breeders Cup Classic.

As most people have probably realized by now, I am an all around horse person. If it involves horses I have an interest in it, which makes this time of year very busy.

On Preakness day I was actually out watching a Combined Driving Event at the Gala Driving Center in Georgetown, Kentucky. There are not a lot of Combined Driving Centers in the U.S. unlike Europe and the Gala Driving Center is certainly amongst the top.

As for the funding for the Kentucky Horse Park we have taken a wait and see attitude as we wait to see if the Governor calls a Special Session in June. We continue to promote the Games by talking to people where ever we meet them and the response has been largely positive. The real concern always comes back to the money that is going to be spent for the Games as most know if Government tells you one number it is always going to cost more. Our primary goal then has to be to make the Games more successful then what people are expecting so that the State reaps benefits in 2010 and beyond.