Brasseur claims world driving gold

  • Felix Brasseur of Belgium claimed the individual gold medal with a brilliant double-clear in the cone-driving competition after the overnight leader, Ysbrand Chardon of the Netherlands knocked a single cone down on the final day of the 2006 World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships held at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

    Brasseur, 54, from Marchin in Belgium, secured a well-deserved second world four-in-hand title — he won the championship for the first time ten years ago on home-soil at the 1996 World Championships in Waregem in Belgium — with his superb grey and bay Lusitano horses.

    Individual winner Belgian driver Felix Marie Brasseur (146.3). Pictures by Kit Houghton

    “I knew I had to put a lot of pressure on Chardon and by going clear he knew he could only be three seconds over the time allowed and no more,” said the new World Champion. ”My Lusitanos are wonderful horses. Traditionally the Lusitanos are only thought of as dressage or bullfighting horses but I think we have proved that they are excellent driving horses. In fact they are good for all equestrian disciplines – or just for fun!”

    Brasseur, a former Cadre Noire riding instructor who now teaches carriage driving at his Marchin equestrian centre, was second after a superb marathon and was less than a point behind Chardon going into the dramatic final day. Brasseur’s championship-winning double-clear helped the Belgian team overtake the Netherlands and claim the team silver medal.

    Hosts Germany led by former world champion, Michael Freund — who finished fifth &mdash and individual bronze medallist Christoph Sandmann, claimed the team gold medal to the delight of the thousands of German driving fans filling the grandstands around Aachen’s driving stadium.

    After a brilliant marathon, Britain’s Karen Bassett delighted her supporters with a beautifully driven clear round from her black Trakhener horses and received an ovation from the crowd. Karen moved up four places to finish 25th in the individual rankings.

    Britain’s Dick Lane made up for a disappointing marathon with a superb round in the cones knocking a single cone down but ended up 35th of 49 starters. George Bowman drove a clear but steady round with his young Dutch Hackney/Warmbloods and ended the championships in 23rd place. The British team finished a few penalties behind the USA in ninth out of the 16 nations in the team championships.

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