Brilliant Bram Wins Again in Geneva

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All the latest Driving action…

Bram Chardon (NED) swept away the opposition to take the 5th leg of the 2023-24 FEI Driving World Cup™ series in Geneva (SUI).  

It was his third consecutive victory at the Swiss event and earned a maximum ten points to propel him to second place in the rankings.  Surprising even himself with his time in the drive-off over Johan Jacobs’ (NED) technical course, Bram said that he had anticipated improving on his times from the first day but hadn’t expected to be quite so fast on his final round.

Belgium’s Dries Degrieck took second place on both days, only 0.17 behind Bram on Saturday evening, but the margin was wider on Sunday as Dries knocked a ball which took the pressure off the Dutchman ahead of his drive-off.  

Third on both days was Koos de Ronde (NED) who, like Dries, was nearer the winning score on Saturday but had a corrected error of course in number five during his final round which added 20 extra penalties to his tally.

Completing the line up were fourth placed wild card Anthony Horde (FRA), Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) and Georg von Stein (GER).

Surprising even himself with his time of 141.97 in the drive-off over Johan Jacobs’ (NED) technical course, Bram said that he had anticipated improving on his times from the first day but hadn’t expected to be quite so fast on his final round.  With no penalties to add, he ended on a time only score, 11.16 in front.

When asked during the press conference what was the secret to his speedy but smooth drive-off, Bram replied, “I saw the other drivers and they gave me a little space because Dries had a knock-down at the last obstacle and Koos made a mistake in the first marathon obstacle, so they didn’t put full pressure on me.  I felt in the first round the horses were very sharp and now later in the season, I definitely want to push them more, which I tried today in the drive-off – but I wasn’t expecting to be 3 seconds faster! The public helped to cheer the horses on and it was a good, technical course to drive.  My team are now in very good shape!”

Bram Just Beats Dries

The margin between first and second place in competition one on Saturday afternoon was much tighter – only 0.17 – as Bram and second placed Dries Degrieck (BEL) both knocked a ball and added four penalties to their closely matched times.  On Sunday, Dries maintained his consistency and secured another drive-off place in competition two, and although the time was his quickest, he caught the edge of the last cone to add four and end on 153.13.

Third slot on both days went to Koos de Ronde, who changed horses between the competitions in response to the requirements of the course, which included a hill and two runs through the water.  Despite a promising start in the drive-off on Sunday, he went through the D-gate in marathon obstacle number five directly after A, so added 20 penalties to the two balls and time, and end on 189.33.

De Ronde said: “Dries drove a good round (in the drive-off) and my team felt very good in the first round so I thought okay, I’m going to go for it!  In the beginning it was great but in the first obstacle I had a small miscommunication with the horses and we didn’t turn sharply enough.  The leaders were thinking so quickly that they thought they had to go into the D-gate and because we were going so fast, we were too late to correct it and we got 20 penalties, so all I could do was go on and finish the course!”

One of the biggest grins of the weekend came from fourth placed Anthony Horde (FRA) who had the wild card ticket. Improving on his first day placing of fifth and building on the experience gained at the opening event in Lyon (FRA), his smile stayed in place from the end of his round until he exited the arena after the prize giving.

Disappointment for Home Favourite Voutaz

A firm favourite with the patriotic audience, Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) and his Swiss horses were up on the clock but slightly off lines and the errors added 40 to his time on Sunday to put him fifth.  Sixth place on both days went to Georg von Stein (GER) who had a better first day than second, and alongside Koos, will be travelling to London (GBR) for the sixth leg next weekend. Also in London will be Ijsbrand Chardon (NED), Glenn Geerts (BEL) and Mareike Harm (GER), joined by Boyd Exell and Daniel Naprous (GBR) as the wild cards.

The Geneva results have changed the order in the series ranking with Bram propelled into second place having earned a maximum 20 points from his two recent wins as a qualified driver.  Boyd remains in front on 25 after three eligible events, with Koos and Michael tying in third on 17, and Ijsbrand fourth on 14.  The places will undoubtedly change until the last round at the last leg in Leipzig (GER) in mid-January, but on current form, it looks like it will be a tussle between recent champions Bram and Boyd for the first position going into the final.  It’s possible that they will tie for top place, but that will be decided in due course.  

After two successful weekends when he and his horses have been in top form, Bram will take a break until his next event at the 7th leg in Mechelen (BEL) at the end of the year. There he will go head-to-head with Boyd, but they will be challenged by the on-form Dries, Michael and Koos. With only three places in a drive-off, the competition for podium places is going to be fierce.

Press Release FEI | Photo FEI (c) Massimo Argenziano

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