Dutchman Mark Weusthof has won the fourth leg of the FEI World Cup? Driving competition in Geneva, Switzerland this afternoon.
Benjamin Aillaud from France came second, ahead of Swiss wild card competitor Daniël Würgler..
It was an exciting competition in the large arena in the Palexpo, where Weusthof started his World Cup season after earning his qualification in Deauville at the end of September.
International course designer Falk Böhnisch had built a long course in the arena, which traditionally included a spectacular water splash.
In the first round of the FEI World Cup? Driving competition, Weusthof faced an awkward situation when he knocked over a cone and the judges felt that he had not taken the gate. The time stopped and the 34-year-old driver had to wait until the gate was rebuilt before he could start again. His total result though was still good enough to qualify for the winning round. Daniël Würgler went for ?all or nothing´ in the winning round but went a little too fast in the water splash: ´I was not fast enough with my hands and knocked one obstacle element over. It was a chain reaction and I just had bad luck,´ explains the professional coachman who was very pleased to have received the wild card again. Mark Weusthof was second to go and gave everything he had, which resulted in a very fast clear round.
Last starter Benjamin Aillaud felt the pressure and was unable to stay clear. With three knockdowns, the 2006 wild card driver came second in his first official FEI World Cup? Driving competition.
Weusthof was very pleased with his win: ´I knew I had to perform well in Geneva in order to have a chance to make it to the Final. I did not want to have pressure in Mechelen, which is my second competition, because my opponents there are very strong.´ With his victory, Weusthof has a starting ticket for the Final within hand reach. ´I knew all odds were open and I also knew that my horses could do it. They suffered nothing from the long courses which we have been driving for three days.´
Aillaud chose Geneva as his first out of two FEI World Cup? Driving competitions, because he felt it was important for him to start where his World Cup adventure began last year when he received a wild card. In Geneva 2006, Aillaud decided to put everything at stake during the summer season to qualify for the FEI World Cup? Driving and he achieved his goal. Although the 31-year-old driver had to miss one of his best horses, which was taken out during the vet check, he drove his team of Lipizzan horses magnificently through the course. ´I am very pleased with my horses, although I noticed that it was difficult to keep them going at the same speed all the time in the winning round. They need a lot of strength and power and I am still looking to find the right balance in the amount of work I let them do before the competition.´
Dutch driver Koos de Ronde has finished his two FEI World Cup? Driving competitions and has to wait and see how his colleagues will perform in Mechelen to know if he will go to the Final. De Ronde just missed the winning round by less than a second and noticed his horses suffered from the short time between the World Cup competitions in Stockholm and Geneva: ´It was a long trip and the competition in Geneva is three days. The course was also very long, and I especially noticed this with my wheeler horses.´ De Ronde was nevertheless satisfied with his fourth position.
Switzerland´s Werner Ulrich and Sweden´s Tomas Eriksson finished fifth and sixth in Geneva.
The Organising Committee of Geneva has applied for the organisation of the FEI World Cup? Jumping Final in 2010 and they will do their very best to raise enough funds to host the FEI World Cup? Driving Final in 2010 at the same time as well. The decision will be made in April 2008.
Results CAI-W Geneva:
1. Mark Weusthof (Ned) 284.93
2. Benjamin Aillaud (Fra) 308.97
3. Daniël Würgler (Sui) 328.53
4. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 164.74
5. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 166.08
6. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 170.88
Classification after 4 of 6 events:
1. Boyd Exell (Aus) 20
2. Ijsbrand Chardon (Ned) 17
3. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 12
4. Mark Weusthof (Ned) 10
4. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 10
6. Zoltan Lazar (Hun) 8
7. Benjamin Aillaud (Fra) 7
8. Daniël Würgler (Sui) 6
9. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 5
10. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 4