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Storm over World Singles Championships

France looses out on team and individual gold at the World Single Driving Championships after controversial “touch” on the reins

Drama and controversy surrounded the final phase of the World Single Driving Championships in Conty, France, to cast a shadow on the event.

The home team of Anne-Violaine Brisou, Philippe Gratpanche and Stephane Meyson were already beginning to celebrate team and individual gold, with the added bonus of an individual silver, when an objection was lodged that Brisou’s groom had momentarily handled the reins during the cones course.

Having studied videos of Brisou’s round, the judges upheld the objection. Brisou, the would-be individualgold medalist, was eliminated and France plummeted down the rankings to 14th.

Sweden (Anders Jonsson, Cecilia Qvarnstrom, Marie Kahrle) was awarded team gold, Finland (Arja Mikkonen, Michaela van Assendelft, Heidi Sinda) took silver, while the Austrian team of Josef Leitner, Ewald Schlagbauer and Georg Moser looked surprised to find themselves on the rostrum accepting the bronze medal.

The president of the jury, Marek Zaleski from Poland, commented on the judges’ decision: “Thevideos provided conclusive evidence. Sad though it is, we had no choice but to uphold the objection – the rules must be obeyed.”

However the medals were distributed, there is no doubt that France put in a world-beating performance.

Britain’s performance

Britain’s Di Hayes was third after the dressage, and a good test from Osborne Refrigerators-sponsored David Matthews, helped to put us into second place after this phase behind the leader, Sweden.

Sadly, Britain went out of the competition in the marathon. David Matthews, the third competitor on the course, drove surely and confidently even though the persistent morning drizzle made conditions slippery. He finished with good times and in eighth place individually.

Next to go for Britain, Angela Flanagan’s hopes were dashed when her horse bolted on leaving obstacle one, turning the carriage over shortly thereafter.

Di Hayes completed the British misfortune by turning over at the finish ofobstacle three. The vehicle righted, she continued, but her harness had been cut and the repairs failed to stand up to the tight turns required in obstacle four – the most technical on the course.

“I haven’t turned over for 18 years in competition,” said Di ruefully. “It’s a pity it had to be here.”

  • Since the event, the French have tried to lodge an appeal to the FEI. They were unhappy with videos being used in evidence and also cited a rule that claims: if someone other than the competitor handles the reins, brake or whip, this should result in 20 penalties. There is another rule that states: if these are used by someone other than the competitor, it will result in elimination.

    Read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound (12 September), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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