Boyd Exell lifted the individual gold medal in the driving at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this afternoon.
The British-based Australian had to drive a clear in the cones after the three drivers just behind him were faultless and he did so to secure the title.
“I didn’t see it as pressure because Chester [Weber, silver medallist] has done double clears [balls and time] all year, so I expected it,” he said. “It’s a huge relief. The whole weekend has been good, but not perfect, although today was pretty good.”
The artificial surface caused some drivers problems today.
“The arena moved a lot — sometimes I wondered if I was going to go through the cones in the middle, but it worked,” said Boyd.
The USA’s Chester Weber commented: “It’s my third individual silver and some call it the bridesmaid’s award, but I’m really pleased with it. I couldn’t be happier with my horses. It’s been a good fight and Boyd did a great job.”
Theo Timmerman took the individual bronze and led the Dutch to team gold.
“My horses were very easy today,” said Theo. “I knew Ijsbrand [teammate Ijsbrand Chardon, fourth] was clear so I had to go clear for the individual medal. But Koos [de Ronde, third Dutch team member] did a great job, which meant I didn’t have to worry about the team and could concentrate on myself.”
Germany held team silver, with Hungary collecting bronze.
British team finish eighth
The British team improved their placing today, finishing eighth thanks to strong cones performances from Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Dick Lane.
Wilf (above) drove a clear round and improved his overall placing to 15th.
“It’s the first time I’ve had the horses in that combination in cones so I’m really pleased, but I’ve been confident all year in cones,” he said. “I had nothing to lose so I gave it a go and pushed on.”
Britain’s first driver, Dick Lane, finished with 3.06 time-penalties for an overall position of 32nd.
“It drove really well — it’s a nice flowing course,” said Dick. “The surface was very slippery and the carriage was moving round all the turns, so you have to compensate for that. On that surface it’s difficult to go very fast because you are worried the carriage is going to slide out [and hit a cone, causing a ball to fall].”
The third member of the British team, Georgina Hunt, suffered disappointment today with two balls down and a few time-penalties for a cones score of 6.79 and a final finish in 24th place.
“It’s a horrid way to finish — I’m very disappointed,” she said. “I didn’t realise I’d had number two down until I went back round and saw it. Then I knew I was tight on time so I tried to come in tight to 19 and had that down too. I should have stuck to my line and not worried about the time. It was a wrong decision.”
Full report on driving, showjumping and vaulting at WEG in H&H this week, out Thursday, 11 September.