Bold brilliance from Marathon specialists Michael Brauchle (GER) and Koos de Ronde (NED) has put them in contention for titles in Exloo, while reigning Four-in-Hand Champion Bram Chardon (NED) is in front, but only just.
With the comfort of his sub-40 Dressage score, Bram had an advantage going into the second phase in his bid to remain European Champion. As one of the first of the serious contenders to race through the eight obstacles, he took efficient routes and played it relatively safe. With a score of 124.96, which placed him 7th to add to his Dressage of 39.85, the total of 164.48 is marginally ahead of Michael’s 166.21 and Koos’ 169.10, so there will be little margin for error in the Cones.
With Michael and Koos on the course at the same time, they were nip and tuck as to who was posting the fastest times through the obstacles. Michael led the tally with five to Koos’ three, but after a slightly sticky obstacle seven for Michael, they averaged out closely with the German a slither in front on 115.30 and Koos on 116.19 – enough to raise them to silver and bronze positions.
“I was really happy with my team – my horses did a good job today. I had one ball in the second obstacle and in number seven I made a small mistake, although I had a good line, but perhaps I put on a bit too much pressure. But it was no problem in the end. And as for the water, it wasn’t too deep, which meant that I could go through much faster and get the best time!” said Michael Brauchle.
Dressage leader Mareike Harm (GER) produced a Marathon that was on form, and after the two phases ties for 4th place (172.45) with countryman Georg von Stein, competing as an individual, who pulled out a great round to finish in 5th (123.27). Glenn Geerts (BEL) put the setback of a disappointing Friday behind him when he stormed through the obstacles and found himself for some time the fastest overall. Pumping the air as he exited the last obstacle, then pointing to his horses, he ended in 3rd on 119.64 and rose from 21st to 8th on the individual scoreboard with 179.67.
As one of the last of 38 the competitors to set out, Austria’s Daniel Schneiders produced a consistent round, which gave him a 4th place on 121.32 pulled him up to 7th (176.82). Anna Sandmann, supported like the rest of the German team by Boyd Exell, who is their trainer for the event, dropped three places to 6th (174.19). Radek Nesvacil (CZE), also trained by Boyd, improved on his 11th after Dressage with a 6th placing (123.53), which puts him just behind Glenn (179.70).
For the team event, the Dutch and Germans have swapped places, 326.66 to 328.01, but it’s a fragile lead as just one ball roll at 3 penalties could change the order. The pressure will be on for cool, clear rounds on Sunday as the team and individual placings will go down to the wire. Belgium retains the bronze position on 358.09, comfortably ahead of France on 369.82.
Consistent Para Equestrians
Starting the proceedings on a sunny Saturday morning, the Para Driving World Championship saw individual first places remain unchanged with Grade 1 Tracy Bowman (USA) on 132.23 ahead of Patricia Großerichter on 140.76 (GER). However, storming rounds from Jodie Mckeone, who has travelled from Victoria, Australia, driving a Dutch Hackney loaned to her by British legend George Bowman, meant she won the Grade 1 Marathon with 81.46 ahead of Tracy’s 85.43 and move up to 3rd going into the Cones. Both classes drove six of the eight obstacles, missing numbers three and four, and in the Grade 2 section, Dressage leader Alexandra Röder maintained her position with a leading round of 83.95. Aad van Marwijk, competing as an individual for The Netherlands, pulled himself up to 2nd with a great round of 89.31, although Alexandra has quite a margin going into the Cones, sitting on 132.91 ahead of Aad’s 152.59. In 3rd was one of the home crowd’s favourites, Ingman Veneman (NED), who retained her position after the Dressage and is only just behind Aad on 154.50.
In the Para team event, Germany remains in front on 273.67 with the USA on 292.45. The British have moved into bronze position on 299.69, with Emily Ham and Mick Ward putting their team into medal contention after confident rounds.
by Sarah Dance