Australia takes the driving seat

  • Australia’s Boyd Exell (pictured below) won the Land Rover International Grand Prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show this afternoon. Exell and his four-horse team scored highly across the board; finishing second in the dressage phase, second in the marathon and fifth in the cones. Second place went to Tomas Eriksson from Sweden with another Swede, Jan-Eric Paisson in third. Britain’s Karen Bassett finished seventh on a score of 180.69 pen.

    Britain’s James Robson won the National Driving Event, with his two black horses Duke and Rivington Frosty.

    The Grand Prix consists of Presentation and Dressage, the Marathon and the Cones and takes place over three days. Presentation is judged while the dressage test is being driven, with judges marking the appearance of the driver and grooms and the cleanliness of the harness and horses.

    The dressage arena is larger than that of ridden dressage and the test is driven from memory. Judges award marks for the freedom and regularity of paces and correct positioning of the horses on the move.

    The marathon phase of the driving trials includes up to eight obstacles, designed to test the driver’s speed and accuracy. Obstacles at Windsor included a series of bridges, a water complex and a copse.

    Today drivers took part in the final phase of the competition; cones. This phase also tests the accuracy and speed of the driver and horses but takes place within 500-800 metre space. The spacing between the two cones is 20com greater than the wheel width of the vehicle and a ball is placed on top of each cone – which will fall easily if the cone is knocked.

    Axell, who also won the International Grand Prix in 2004, took this year’s title by a convincing margin, with Eriksson over three penalties behind.

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