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Boyd Exell wins driving World Cup despite nearly losing finger

The world’s leading carriage driver Boyd Exell has won the FEI World Cup for a record-breaking sixth time — despite seriously injuring his hand in the run up to the competition.

The Australian took the title ahead of Christoph Sandmann of Germany, in Bordeaux on Sunday (8 February).

The week before the competition Boyd nearly lost one of his fingers after a concrete block smashed his left hand.

But this did not stop him taking the title for a sixth time — once more than the previous record holder Germany’s Michael Freund.

Boyd drove two clear rounds, putting the pressure on last man IJsbrand Chardon.

“Once we got into our zone, it felt like the old winning wheel again. Because of my injured hand, I had to sharpen the bit settings and I could not play with them as much as I would like to,” he said.

He was especially pleased with his right wheeler horse, the 25 year-old Carrington Park Ajax (Junior).

“I am so thrilled for him and so happy he finished his career with a win,” he added.

Junior has been part of Boyd’s team at every FEI World Cup driving competition and has now been retired.

Boyd’s biggest opponent IJsbrand Chardon, of the Netherlands, finished third in the three-man final round.

The Dutch driver entered the arena with his special indoor team with a three second advantage over Boyd and flew round the course, determined to win the title which had eluded him since 2006.

But his carriage lost balance in the left turn, forcing him to make a correction.

This caused his right leader horse to come out and spectacularly jump over the start and finish element. As he had come too close to the next marathon type obstacle, he could no longer correct the situation and went through the wrong gate.

He had no other choice but to retire. “I feel terrible that this has happened, I really wanted to win. But this is the game and I accept it,” he said afterwards.

The multiple German champion Christoph Sandmann went full-speed in the winning round knowing he had nothing to loose as there difference between him and the two leading drivers was too great.

“I am very happy with my second place,” he said. “I did not compete in the World Cup last season and had a special indoor team for this season with which I am very pleased.”

Fredrik Persson of Sweden was fourth ahead of Koos de Ronde of the Netherlands.

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