Sunday, May 1, 2011

Driving: World Cup: Leipzig: Extraordinary Exell dominates World Cup Driving again!

Australian Carriage Driver Boyd Exell yesterday secured his third consecutive FEI World Cup victory in the Leipzig Messe, Leipzig, Germany, to become only the second driver to score a hat-trick of World Cup competitions.

This incredible performance reinforced Exell’s current dominance of the sport. Exell is currently the most decorated athlete in the sport holding every major Driving title. In 2010 he won the individual gold medal at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in the USA, the International Driving Grand Prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show and the CAIO at Aachen as well as the FEI World Cup title.  Exell is also a six-time British National Champion.

Exell led from start to finish and whilst he made one mistake in the first round he remained ahead of the rest of the field.

“I know with my team that I have enough speed that I can make one mistake, so I thought ‘don’t panic yet’, explained Exell following his victory.

“My horses are brilliant,” commented Exell, “there is no other team that is faster than them at the moment.”  Exell uses a very experienced team of horses for the indoor competitions, their ages range from 18 to 22 years.  The horses know the job and are not distracted by the intense noise and excitement of the crowd.  To his credit Exell’s outdoor success are achieved with an entirely different team of horses.

Hungary’s Jozsef Dobrovitz performed very well to drive two clear rounds with his team of Lipizzaner horses to finish second, ahead of IJsbrand Chardon from the Netherlands.

Born in Bega, NSW, 38 year-old Exell left Australia in 1993 to pursue his driving and riding career in the United Kingdom.  He now lives in Leicester, England, with his wife and two children.

Listen to an audio link of Boyd Exell following yesterday’s competition;



Leipzig (GER), 1 May 2011

Watch our news round-up from today’s thrilling FEI World Cup™ Driving Final on FEI YouTube Channel
Boyd Exell from Australia has successfully defended his FEI World Cup™ Driving title in a thrilling finish in Leipzig (GER) to become only the second driver to score a hat-trick of World Cup victories. The popular Australian sped to victory in front of an enthusiastic and ecstatic crowd that packed the Leipzig Messe to capacity. Hungary’s Jozsef Dobrovitz drove two brilliant rounds with his team of Lipizzaner horses to finish second, ahead of IJsbrand Chardon from the Netherlands.

Happy to be first
Jozsef Dobrovitz was happy to go first in the Final round. In Budapest he had won the warm-up competition but made mistakes in the Final round, so he felt the starting grid Leipzig would favour him. His only goal in the first round was to equal Boyd’s time on the first night and to stay clear as well. Dobrovitz put in an amazing performance to meet both his goals and pile the pressure on his opponents.

No expectations
Second starter IJsbrand Chardon was determined to make up for his mistake on the first night, but his leader horses started pushing against each other in the warm-up arena and there was not enough time left for IJsbrand to fix it. The result was three knockdowns on course, but Chardon kept on driving at such high speed that he finished in a record time of 113.89 seconds, to slot into second behind Dobrovitz. Chardon had no expectations of making it to the Winning Round but Georg von Stein (GER), Werner Ulrich (SUI), Koos de Ronde (NED) and Tomas Eriksson (SWE) all made mistakes, which kept Chardon in second place. After Exell had conquered the course in a fast time despite one knockdown, it was clear that the colourful trio was going to battle it out in the Winning Round.

Chardon’s horses went much better in the Winning Round and the four-time World Champion drove his team of Lipizzaner horses, which are formerly owned by Jozsef Dobrovitz, at full speed. But he was unable to make up for his mistakes in the first round and finished third in the overall standings.

Dobrovitz had the full support of the enthusiastic spectators in the sold out Leipziger Halle and felt he could fly. He beat his own time by three seconds and finished with another clear round. Dobrovitz and his team were extremely happy with their performance and he thanked his horses by giving them all four a big kiss after leaving the ring. This was much appreciated by the spectators who were able to follow this wonderful scene on the big screens inside the arena.

Extraordinary Exell
After the first night, Boyd Exell decided to change the bit of his leader horse Spitfire in order to speed his team up a bit. Boyd did not feel any pressure from Dobrovitz, as he knew the times were beatable. He was a little worried though that he wouldn’t be able to hold the horse in a lighter bit. The new set-up worked however and Boyd felt the team was very light in his hands, which resulted in very fast and easy looking rounds.

Boyd’s leaders went a bit too fast in the Winning Round, causing a ball to fall, but it didn’t endanger his lead as Boyd’s speed was just right. Boyd had received some good advice from Tomas Eriksson on his way in for the Winning Round, which made him decide not to drive at full speed.

Tomas Eriksson went for a top-three placing but made a mistake himself coming out of obstacle nine on the course, designed by World Championship course designer Dr Wolfgang Asendorf. Eriksson’s leader horses were not in the good form they were in on the first night, dropping the Stockholm World Cup winner to fourth. Budapest winner Werner Ulrich was also determined to make it a top three finish, but took a risk at the wrong moment and ended up fifth. Koos de Ronde had an uncharacterstic round with three knockdowns. Koos’ leader horses, which are normally very fast, didn’t seem to want to go forward, leaving Koos down in seventh in the Leipzig Final.

Change of plans
Wild card driver Georg von Stein had only heard last Thursday that he could compete after the initial wild card driver Christian Plücker had to withdraw because of two unfit horses. Von Stein started training his outdoor team of horses several weeks ago and had some second thoughts after the first night. Despite some mistakes that he blamed himself for, he was very pleased with his horses and will now change his outdoor schedule in order to be able to qualify for next season’s FEI World Cup™ Driving! Von Stein came sixth in the overall standings in Leipzig.

Boyd Exell: “The only pressure I had was not to hit obstacle two and 10. I knew the times of Dobrovitz and Chardon were beatable and I thought to myself ‘let’s go!’ in the Winning Round.

Jozsef Dobrovitz: “I have lent my second black horse to my son, who is competing in his first international driving competition with a horse team this weekend. He would normally also have driven with my wheelers, so we had a lot of discussion to decide who was going to drive which horses! I am very happy with my horses and my own performance, everything came together at the right time.”

IJsbrand Chardon: “I had a good feeling and was very motivated but once by leader horses started pushing I could not do anything. I decided to keep on driving and I could only pray that I would make it to the Winning Round, because normally you know you have no chance with this many mistakes. The Winning Round went much better. Initially I went for the first place, but after the first round I was very pleases with my third position!”

Listen to the stars from today’s FEI World Cup™ Final Driving with audio links following today's competition:
Boyd Exell

Jozsef Dobrovitz - Hungarian with English Translation

Ian Williams, FEI World Cup Driving Director

FEI World Cup™ Driving Final Leipzig:

1.    Boyd Exell (AUS) 242,12

2.    Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) 247,52

3.    IJsbrand Chardon (NED) 254,88

4.    Tomas Eriksson (SWE) 133,10

5.    Werner Ulrich (SUI) 139,07

6.    Georg von Stein (GER) 140,76

7.    Koos de Ronde (NED) 151,32

For information on the Final go to or contactPress Officer Andreas Kerstan, phone +49 4307 827970, e-mail:

More information:

FEI World Cup™ DRIVING 2010/2011

1.    Hannover (Ger) 28-31 October 2010

2.    Stuttgart (Ger) 17-21 November 2010

3.    Stockholm (Swe) 26-28 November 2010

4.    Budapest (Hun) 3-5 December 2010

5.    Geneva (Sui) 9-12 December 2010

6.    Mechelen (Bel) 26-30 December 2010

7.    Bordeaux (Fra) 4-6 February 2011

8.    FINAL Leipzig (Ger) 27 April – 1 May 2011

Eventing: Rolex Kentucky: King Crowned Champion of 2011 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* presented by Bridgestone; Halpin Takes USEF National CCI4* Championship on First Try - By Joanie Morris

Mary King and Kings Temptress.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman/USEF.

Lexington, KY - Mary King was not going to be stopped in her quest to take a Rolex watch back to Great Britain. Lying first and second after the cross-country at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Bridgestone -  with Kings Temptress and Fernhill Urco - she did not flinch in the final show jumping phase and jumped an immaculate double-clear round on both horses.

For the first time in history, the champion and reserve champion of America's only CCI4* was the same rider. King was confident and excited coming into the show jumping, and she rode with a professionalism that was inspiring.

Kings Temptress added nothing to her fourth-placed dressage score of 47.7, they jumped immaculately around Saturday's cross-country course and then sealed the win over today's jumping track. King took home top honors with her 11-year-old homebred mare, who is now owned by Derek Rostron Baden. Her closest competition was her stablemate, Fernhill Urco, who emerged from his first CCI4* with second-place honors after only adding eight time faults to his dressage score. The Portuguese-bred grey gelding owned by Sue and Edwin Davies and Janette Chinn, jumped an immaculate clear round and really proved himself at the level. His clear round, jumped out of order due to the proximity of the placings, gave King great confidence to know that whatever happened with the second horse, the top honors were going home with the British veteran.

Sinead Halpin of Gladstone, NJ, brought Manoir de Carneville to their first CCI4* and rose to the occasion to sit amongst two of the greatest in the game at the press conference. Owned by Carrig, LLC, the 10-year-old Selle Francais jumped for fun in the Rolex Stadium around Richard Jeffery's show jumping course and gave Halpin the 2011 USEF National CCI4* Eventing Championship on her very first try. Their score of 53.1 (they picked up 4.4 time faults on the cross-country) was good enough to move her up from fourth after cross-country to third place behind King's pair and just ahead of William Fox-Pitt, the 2010 winner for Great Britain. 

"I'm beside myself," said Halpin. "He's so proud of himself. It's really nice having a horse like that. He was a little tired walking up to the ring, and then he heard the crowd from the horses before him and he woke up, he doesn't get nervous he gets really excited."
Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville.
Photo by Shannon Brinkman/USEF
Halpin is enjoying the moment with her beloved horse, affectionately known as 'Tate'. With her name added to a list of national champions that reads like the U.S. Eventing Hall of Fame, Halpin has bright plans for the future. She contested the Boekelo CCI3* last fall in Holland as part of a USEF Developing Rider program and that experience has resonated with her.

"Burghley is certainly something I've thought about," said Halpin. "I tried to keep my focus here. But that would be very exciting to do. Going to Boekelo last fall was huge. I would be thrilled to go to Burghley...but after Tate goes out in the field for at least a month with no shoes." 

Halpin jumped up one place in the standings when Clayton Fredericks, riding for Australia, had one rail down on Be My Guest to drop to fourth. The 2007 winner had a foot-perfect round on the cross-country course on Saturday.

Halpin spent a stint working for Fox-Pitt after getting her initial foundation with David and Karen O'Connor. She conveyed her initial frustration that Fox-Pitt wouldn't teach her, until she realized that she needed to learn by watching him, not by having him talk her through each step. 

"I told her that I'm not going to stand on the ground and tell you what to do," said Fox-Pitt. "You have to figure it out. Eventing is a mental game. She came with all the talent in the world. But she was over-keen to be too good...she relaxed over time and has a fantastic horse. I felt very proud watching her jump today."

Fox-Pitt was also proud of his own horse. Neuf des Coeurs, a 10-year-old Selle Francais, romped through the test of his first CCI4* and jumped his way to fourth place on his score of 57. 

"He's an awfully nice horse," said Fox-Pitt. "I found him for his owners, they've been with me for a long time."

Neuf des Coeurs is owned by David and Margie Hall and Judy and Jeremy Skinner, who have been involved in the careers of a number of other of Fox-Pitt's horses.

The USEF Reserve National CCI4* Champion was Hannah Sue Burnett on Richard Thompson's St. Barths.

Jumping: World Cup: Leipzig: Americans Hang Tough: Three Jump Into Top 12 at the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final - By Helen Murray

Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo.
Photo by Rebecca Walton/Phelps Media Group.

Leipzig, Germany - The Rolex/FEI World Cup Final came to a close Sunday afternoon in Leipzig, Germany, with two final rounds of jumping. The U.S. had strong representation in this competition as they sent seven of the 27 riders into the ring. In the third and final competition, riders jumped two rounds over Frank Rothenberger's demanding 1.60m courses. The entire field would contest the first round, with 19 riders returning to the arena one last time to determine who would be crowned champion.

Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, NY) and Coral Reef Via Volo jumped two impressive clear rounds to tie for the win of the class as well as tie for fourth place in the overall World Cup Final ranking on a score of 12. Coral Reef Ranch's exciting Belgian Warmblood mare made easy work of the 12-obstacle course. In the second round, Madden made an incredible save heading to the double combination, fence 11, after Coral Reef Via Volo spooked at the crowd heading to the double combination after fence 10.

"She went amazing," Madden said. "There's probably nothing she can't jump, and I had a lot of confidence in that when I went out there."

Madden was the highest-placing female rider in the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup Final and she and Coral Reef Via Volo were one of only two combinations to jump two clear rounds.

McLain Ward and Grant Road Partners' Antares F were poised to duplicate Madden's clean sheet for the day, until rolling the final rail in second round. In their first round of the day, the combination jumped a brilliant clear round to finish well within the time allowed.

The Brewster, NY, native was extremely impressed with the gelding's performance throughout the competition.

"I'm thrilled with Antares, I couldn't have been happier, he was amazing all week," Ward said. "First time doing the championships with him certainly couldn't have been happier with the horse. Today, I thought we jumped the jump."

Ward finished the 2011 World Cup Final in 10th place on a score of 14. In the last two competitions of these championships, he rode Antares F after utilizing Sagamore Farms' Rothchild for the speed leg on the first day. Rothchild added to Ward's successful weekend by collecting third-place honors in Saturday's Sparkassen Cup-Grand Prix of Leipzig.

Margie Engle of Wellington, FL, finished the Rolex/FEI World Cup Final on a score of 18 to collect 12th place. Like Ward and Madden, Engle and Gladewind Farm, Garber, Griese and Hidden Creek Farm's Indigo produced a fault-free performance in the first round. In the following round, the big striding gelding got a little too close to the first element of 11A rolling the pole out of its cups.

Engle was extremely pleased with Indigo's performance and the maturity he demonstrated.

"He's a good boy, he wanted to be good all the way through," Engle said. "Its been a great learning experience for him as a young horse, its a lot for him. One thing nice to see is that I still have plenty of horse left.  He could  go another round."

The fourth U.S. combination to take part in rounds one and two on Sunday was Richard Spooner and his own Cristallo. In both rounds the talented pair collected four faults in otherwise classy performances. The Californian finished on a score of 19 and tied for 13th place.

Rich Fellers, Michelle Spadone and Ashlee Bond all competed in today's final round of the World Cup Final for the U.S. Fellers and Spadone found the large track difficult on the their third day of World Cup jumping, collecting 12 and 20 faults, respectively. Bond and Little Valley Farm's Cadett 7 elected to retire midway through the course after having a difficult trip at the beginning of the course.

U.S. Chef d'Equipe George Morris was very happy with this year's Finals and veteran riders.

"Great horse show, great horse show," Morris said. "Great horses, great competition. I think our top group, which are older people with great horses and great experience are world-class."

Germany's Christian Ahlmann was crowned the 2011 Rolex/FEI World Cup champion after finishing on a score of four. Eric Lamaze and Hickstead finished second and Jeroen Dubbeldam and BMC van Grunsven Simon finish third.


Leipzig (GER), 1 May 2011

Caption: On the winner’s podium for the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping final at Leipzig, Germany today - Canada’s Eric Lamaze who finished second (on left), newly-crowned Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion Christian Ahlmann from Germany (centre) and The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam who slotted into third place (right).  Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.

FEI TV: enjoy LIVE programming, highlights, interviews and archive footage at

Germany's Christian Ahlmann claimed the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2010/2011 title in a thrilling finale on his home ground in Leipzig today with superb jumping from his stallion, Taloubet Z.  Sharing the lead with fellow-countryman Marco Kutscher, the 36-year-old rider added just four faults to an otherwise foot-perfect performance to finish ahead of reigning Olympic champion Eric Lamaze from Canada, while The Netherlands' Jeroen Dubbeldam rocketed up from overnight 11th to finish third when producing one of only two clear double clears on the final afternoon.

There was huge disappointment for Kutscher who had the world's most prestigious indoor title in his sights until his luck ran out at the very end.  Such was the unforgiving nature of Frank Rothenberger's testing courses however that the slightest of errors proved very costly indeed.  Today's jumping was about scope, speed, courage, accuracy and, most importantly, the rideability of the horses.  In the end it was Ahlmann's 11-year-old Taloubet Z who put all the ingredients together to create the winning formula.

US riders were first to find the key to the opening track as veteran Margie Engle's spectacular round with the exciting grey, Indigo, was followed by a copybook run from Beezie Madden and the stunning Coral Reef Via Volo.  These ladies however were jumping middle-order in the start-list of 27 runners after the previous two competitions, and it didn't seem that Dubbeldam's clear with BMC van Grunsven Simon, or the equally impressive fault-free effort from 10th-placed McLain Ward and Antares, would prove overly influential.  The remaining nine however struggled to leave all the fences up - defending champion Marcus Ehning from Germany lowering both the second element of the triple combination at fence four and the last element of the final double to slip from contention with Sabrina.

Lamaze's Hickstead always raises the heart-rate, and when the stallion crossed the line clear it piled the pressure on the remaining four.  There was little between the leaders as they jumped in reverse order of merit, and as the final double also caught New Zealand's Katie McVean and Delphi and Dutchman Gerco Schroder left two on the floor on his tour of the ring with Eurocommerce New Orleans, then the German leaders were given more breathing space.

Second-last to go, Kutscher then further secured his advantage with a clear from Cash despite rattling a number of poles, but last man in, Ahlmann fell victim to that tricky final double.

As the second round began only Kutscher remained on a zero score with Ahlmann close behind carrying four, Lamaze on six, McVean with eight and Schroder now carrying nine faults.   Dubbeldam, who had moved into seventh, began to really threaten the leading bunch with another clear and when Ward's lovely grey faulted at the very last on the new course, the big Rolex oxer, and Schroder also left one on the ground then the 2000 Olympic champion's chances were improving all the time.

McVean hit the oxer at fence four and Lamaze dislodged the flimsy top plank on the vertical at 10 so the pressure was further relieved for the leading home runners.  And when Ahlmann stayed cool as a breeze to bring Taloubet Z home clear - he was now guaranteed at least second place.

But it all fell apart for Kutscher when Cash hit the first before bringing down two more for a devastating 12 faults.  The German fans groaned with disappointment for him, but they still had a hero to cheer as Ahlmann claimed the coveted title for Germany for the ninth time in the 33-year history of this great series.

"I'm unbelievably happy that everything worked out the way it did", said the winning rider. "Taloubet did an amazing job all weekend and the only fault he made was his rider's fault at the last fence in the first round.  He is a horse with quality, scope and power but he has no experience of Championship competition so I'm delighted that he showed today that he can do it", Ahlmann added.

Second-placed Lamaze was more than pleased too. "I'm really thrilled with what happened here this week - I couldn't have asked for any more.  Hickstead is only starting his season, he didn't jump indoors all winter so I'm very happy to be where I am right now.  Every day gets better for me - it just shows what a great horse he is when he can achieve this when he is not even fully fit!" he pointed out.

Dubbeldam admitted that he lived in hope even when lying 11th going into the last competition. “You have to believe it’s possible and I went in today thinking I would go up at least a few places", he said.  "I knew my horse was in top form, I had a super feeling in the first class but then on Friday we had an unlucky eight faults - however I still had a super feeling going into today's competition", he explained.

Ahlmann talked about the "ups and downs" he has experienced with Taloubet.  "He was difficult to control in the beginning - he jumped a lot more forward and it made it difficult for him over the fences so I tried to build him up slowly and carefully, starting in small classes.  It took a lot of time but as you can see today it was well worth the wait!" said the man whose career honours now include Team and Individual gold at European championship level, team bronze from the Olympic Games and team bronze from the FEI World Equestrian Games™ and now the most desired trophy of the international indoor circuit - the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping title.

Result (after 3 competitions) : 1, Taloubet Z (Christian Ahlmann) GER 4; 2, Hickstead (Eric Lamaze) CAN 10; 3, BMC Van Grunsven Simon (Jeroen Dubbeldam) NED 11; Equal 4, Coral Reef Via Volo/Danny Boy (Beezie Madden) USA, Cash (Marco Kutscher) 12; Equal 6, Eurocommerce New Orleans (Gerco Schroder) NED, Delphi (Katie McVean) NZL, Silvana de Hus (Kevin Staut) FRA, Carlina/Ulysse (Pius Schwizer) SUI 13; 10, Antares F/Rothchild (McLain Ward) USA 14; 11, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnsson) SWE 16; 12, Indigo (Margie Engle) USA 18; Equal 13, Action-Breaker/Wisconsin (Sergio Alvarez Moya) ESP, Cristallo (Richard Spooner) USA 19; 15, Catoki/Souvenir (Philipp Weishaupt) GER 20; 16, Couletto/Napoli du Ry (Simon Delestre) FRA 26; Equal 17, G&C Quick Star (Pablo Barrios) VEN, Lord Luis/Lucie (Lars Nieberg) GER 34; 19, Regina Z (Harrie Smolders) NED 45.  Full results at

Visit our new FEI Press Kit Zone to get everything you need on the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2010/2011.

Listen to interviews with the stars of the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final Jumping:

Christian Ahlmann German

Christian Ahlmann

Eric Lamaze

Jeroen Dubbeldam Dutch

Jeroen Dubbeldam

Katie McVean

Volker Wulff German

Volker Wulff

Beezie Madden

27 horse-and-rider combinations started in the third and last competition at the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Final 2010/2011 in Leipzig, Germany today.
Germany's Christian Ahlmann and Marco Kutscher shared the lead with a zero score as the competition began.
Course designer, Frank Rothenberger, presented a first-round track of 13 obstacles with 16 jumping efforts and a second-round track with 12 jumping efforts.
21 riders qualified for round 2 but only 19 competed.
6 riders jumped clear in round 1.
5 jumped clear in round 2.
Only 2 combinations jumped double-clear in today's class - Coral Reef Via Vola ridden by America's Beezie Madden and BMC van Grunsven Simon ridden by The Netherlands' Jeroen Dubbeldam.
Dubbeldam was lying in 11th place as today's competition began, and his double-clear moved him up 8 places to finish third.
Today's winner, Christian Ahlmann, recorded the ninth German win in the 33-year history of FEI World Cup™ Jumping.
Today's win was also the fourth successive German victory.

Course designer, Frank Rothenberger - "we had two wonderful rounds of competition with just two double-clears yet the course didn't take too much out of the horses - for me that is the perfect result and very much as I expected."
John Madden, FEI Jumping Committee - "Everyone rose to the occasion to create a fantastic final here in Leipzig."
Christian Ahlmann - "Taloubet will have a break now for a few weeks and then do the Global Champions Tour and maybe a Nations Cup. I'm not sure about later in the season and the European Championships in Madrid because we will have to see how well he jumps when he goes outside."
Eric Lamaze - "I'm based with Rodrigo Pessoa in Belgium when I am in Europe then I will go to the summer tour at Spruce Meadows."
Show Chairman Volker Wulff - "I'd like to thank Rolex - we have been very happy to work with them throughout their sponsorship of this series, they are great sponsors and help maintain the quality of our shows.  I hope their support will continue for a long time."

For the first time in the history of equestrian sport, the Rolex FEI World Cup™ Jumping, Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Dressage, FEI World Cup™ Driving and the inaugural FEI World Cup™ Vaulting takes place under one roof in Leipzig this week, bringing together four world-class disciplines for a fabulous festival of sport.