British-based Australian four-in-hand star Boyd Exell triumphed in the national four-in-hand horse team driving championships at Lowther
Australian driver Boyd Exell scored a sensational victory in the national four-in-hand horse team driving championships at the Lowther Horse Driving Trials in Cumbria.
The championship for horse teams was held in August because all the top four-in-hand drivers will be travelling to the World Equestrian Games in September – the same time that the national carriage driving championship takes place in Windsor.
Thirty-year-old Boyd qualified for the national championship by competing at events in the UK, but he will represent Australia at WEG. He narrowly defeated 19-times British champion George Bowman, who ended up reserve this time, with Dick Lane in third.
Boyd took a decisive lead in dressage after an impressive performance from his chesnut Gelderlanders, earning an excellent score of 31.8 penalties. George and his team of black Cumberland Cobs were second on 38.9 and 2000 national champion Barry Capstick, with his bay warmbloods, stood third on 39.7.
Conditions were wet and muddy for the 22km cross-country marathon course, which produced a thrilling battle between the top drivers.
Boyd went early and recorded some fast times, but George matched his times through two of the obstacles and beat him in three others. However, the Cumbrian maestro could not quite catch the young Australian, who won the marathon by just three penalties. Dick Lane moved into third ahead of Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Adrian Puddy.
The cone-driving produced a thrilling finale. Dick maintained third place with just one cone down and George went double clear to pile the pressure on, but Boyd drove a brilliant clear round to claim his first four-in-hand title.
“Boyd’s on song at the moment and he deserved to win,” admitted George. “My horses didn’t settle in dressage and we made two mistakes early in the obstacles, otherwise we might have caught him.”
“It was nice towin in front of such a big crowd,” said Boyd, who stables his team in Buckinghamshire. “George really put the pressure on us. We had a good build-up, but we’ve got to sharpen up our marathon. It was a very hard course, with fast times, tight obstacles and heavy going, but my horses really know their job now; they’re working well and enjoying the events.”
Read the full report from Lowther in next week’s Horse & Hound (22 August), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.
Read more driving news: