Sunday, December 5, 2010

Driving: Budapest: ULTIMATE WIN FOR ULRICH IN BUDAPEST - by Cindy Timmer

Werner Ulrich (SUI) wins at Budapest, Hungary. (Ronaldo de Craen/FEI)

What nobody expected in Hungary’s capital city happened today: Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich stayed ahead of top favourite Boyd Exell from Australia and won the FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Budapest. Exell made two mistakes and came second, ahead of Ulrich’s compatriot Daniel Würgler. This was the second FEI World Cup™ Driving win in Ulrich’s 31 year long driving career. His first World Cup win came in Mechelen back in 2005.

Heart for Driving
ThePapp Lászlo Budapest Sportarena was filled with enthusiastic driving fans this afternoon. In Budapest you feel that driving has a special place in the people’s hearts. The driving sport is extremely popular in Hungary, stimulated even further by the Lázár brothers who are very successful in both pairs and team driving and who enjoy celebraty status in Hungary.

Hungarian O-course designer Gábor Fintha had designed one of the best courses of the season for today’s competition, with technical challenges and fast lines, including a bridge with fireworks.

Solid base for victory
Werner Ulrich knocked a ball down in the first round and was first to go in the Winning Round. Driving his team of Swiss warmbloods and a Lipizzaner gelding in the lead of his team, Ulrich drove a steady clear round, a tactic that would eventually turn out to be the base for his victory.
Boyd Excell (AUS) takes 2nd in Budapest (Ronaldo de Craen/FEI)
Boyd Exell was second to go and could have beaten Ulrich’s score if he had not knocked down two balls. This gave last-to-go Daniel Würgler some breathing space, but the professional coachman was unable to take advantage. His young team of horses got tired and started to make mistakes. Würgler left the arena with three knockdowns, but was still happy with his third place in his first competition of the season.

Dutch driver Koos de Ronde had left his black trump Charley in the stables after he picked up a minor injury when he rolled in his box on Friday night. Instead Koos used his father’s fourth piebald horse in the lead, but drove a little too safely to make it to the Winning Round. Co-organiser Zoltan Lázár came fifth, ahead of wild card driver and winner of the warm up competition Jozsef Dobrovitz from the nearby village of Vecsés. Dobrovitz made a change to his route in the obstacles which did not turn out well for him. Dobrovitz finished sixth, ahead of the second wild card driver Peter Juhasz.
 Daniel Wurgler (SUI) 3rd place Budapest, Hungary. (Ronaldo de Craen/FEI)

 The smaller the better
Switzerland’s Daniel Würgler presented his new team of indoor horses for the first time in Budapest. Except for the eight-year-old Andalusian cross-bred Camargue gelding Éclair, all other horses in his team are new this season. Würgler has created a very small team of horses of which the largest is not even 1.60m high. The smaller the horses are, the better they turn and these skills are particularly important in indoor driving. Würgler added a trotter mare to his team, with which he competed in a trotting race only several weeks ago. The Lusitano and Lipizzaner wheeler horses complete Würgler’s indoor team for this season.

Wild card brothers
The second wild card in Budapest went to 31-year old Peter Juhasz. Juhasz received a wild card in 2008 and was due to be invited to compete again last year, but an accident intervened and his younger brother Miklos took his place with his team in 2009. Peter competed with two horses from his 2008 and 2009 team of Dutch warmblood geldings. After having driven a pair for 15 years, Peter Juhasz, who is not related to the Hungarian World four-in-hand Champion Lászlo Juhasz, switched to driving a horse team three years ago. Peter was very pleased to be able to compete in Budapest although he knew in advance the opposition would be too strong for him to secure a top placing.

Bid for 2011 FEI European Championships in Budapest
The Hungarian Federation has put in a bid to organize the 2011 FEI European four-in-hand Championships in Budapest. One of the initiators is Budapest Show Director and multiple World Champion Vilmos Lázár. Vilmos Lázár, elder brother of the Hungarian pair and team driver and World Cup competitorZoltán Lázár, is currently preparing the necessary financial and logistic arrangements. The Outdoor Championships will, if allocated, take place in Budapest City Centre on the national holiday weekend of 20 August. The goal of the event is to create a true highlight for Budapest city. The event will not only include the driving competitions, but also many shows to attract the public.

The first European four-in-hand Championships took place in 1971 in Budapest and Vilmos Lázár is looking forward to welcoming the European Championships, which were abolished in 1979, to revive history exactly 40 years later.

The battle for the starting places for the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final in Leipzig has begun and the winners are no longer obvious. While Exell easily won the first two shows of the season, it was Tomas Eriksson who took the first place in Stockholm last week and now it was Werner Ulrich’s turn. Jozsef Dobrovitz leads the standings, followed by Koos de Ronde, Boyd Exell and Werner Ulrich.

Werner Ulrich (SUI):
“This victory means a lot to me. So far I have made a mistake in every round I have driven, except for tonight’s Winning Round where I had a perfect balance between risk and control. I still need to build my confidence with this team. The Lipizzaner leader has only been in my team since two and a half months but it is getting better every time. I am happy that I have received the wild card for Geneva this week. This gives me the opportunity to stay in competition rhythm.”

Boyd Exell (AUS):
“I have been concentrating so much on my new carriage and new harness during the past shows, but I know this is not an excuse. My horses are in such good form at the moment because we do an FEI World Cup™ Driving event every weekend, they are too fit and fast. The mistakes I made were bad luck, but Werner Ulrich deserved to win today.”

Daniel Würgler (SUI):
“I drove long lines today and I was still nearly as fast as my fellow competitors. My horses are quite young and the Winning Round was simply too much for them. I could feel they had a lack of power and concentration. But compared to the first day where they went everywhere except the right way, I am extremely pleased with my place in the Winning Round.”

Results CAI-W Budapest 2010:
1.    Werner Ulrich (SUI) 253,46
2.    Boyd exell (AUS) 259,47
3.    Daniel Würgler (SUI) 277,10
4.    Koos de Ronde (NED) 133,89
5.    ZoltanLazar (HUN) 136,23
6.    Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) 139,75 wild card
7.    Peter Juhasz (HUN) 169,77 wild card

Classification after 4 of 7 events:
Place   Driver                              NF           Total
1       Jozsef DOBROVITZ            HUN        22
2       Koos DE RONDE                NED         18
3       Boyd EXELL                       AUS        17
4       Werner ULRICH                SUI         15
5       IJsbrand CHARDON           NED         14
6       Zoltan LAZAR                    HUN        8
7       Daniel WURGLER               SUI         5
8       Theo TIMMERMAN             NED         4
9       Fredrik PERSSON               SWE        3
10     Tomas ERIKSSON              SWE        2

The 2010/2011 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to Geneva, Switzerland on Saturday, 11 December.

For information on the next leg go to or contact Geneva Press Officer Corinne Druey, phone +41 21 312 82 22, e-mail

More information:

FEI World Cup™ DRIVING 2010/2011
Hannover (GER) 28-31 October 2010
Stuttgart (GER) 17-21 November 2010
Stockholm (SWE) 26-28 November 2010
Budapest (HUN) 3-5 December 2010
Geneva (SUI) 9-12 December 2010
Mechelen (BEL) 26-30 December 2010
Bordeaux (FRA) 4-6 February 2011
FINAL Leipzig (GER) 27 April – 1 May 2011

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