|Boyd Excell (AUS) maintains his lead into Sunday (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)|
October 9. 2010
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.”
|Gavin Robson (AUS) and team mate Excell push Aussies into First (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage)|
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.
|Ijsbrand Chardon (NED) moves up to 2nd (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)|
“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.
|Tucker Johnson USA finishes his Marathon career in bronze medal position (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)|
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.
|Chester Weber (USA) drops to 13th place (©Nan Rawlins/Equimage®)|
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.