WEG driving: British-based Australian Boyd Exell in the lead after marathon

  • Boyd Exell (above) has taken the individual lead in the driving at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games after today’s marathon.

    The Australian, who lives in Leicestershire, finished third in today’s phase with 90.32 penalties, but when that mark is combined with his second-placed dressage score he has overhauled the USA’s Chester Webber. The American is 2.77pen behind Boyd, with the Netherlands’ Theo Timmerman holding provisional bronze, another 5.2pen in arrears.

    Defending world champion Boyd had problems in the Land Rover obstacle at number six, where one of his wheelers became caught on a post.

    “I tried to turn too quick,” he said. “The recovery was ok, but then I missed a gate and had to do an extra circle. That’s what happens at the top of the game at a World Championships, though — I’m not going to go home regretting number six. I did my best and the horses gave me everything.”

    Boyd had the fastest time in obstacles one and seven, finishing in the top four in all the other obstacles except number six, where he was 31st.

    Overnight leader Chester finished 12th on the marathon, after problems when one of his leaders made a mistake in the final obstacle, the Alltech Water.

    “But I’m pleased with the horses, they did a great job and I couldn’t be more proud,” he said.

    The USA has slipped out of the team medals after their less experienced drivers Alison Stroud and Misdee Wrigley-Miller couldn’t match the top competitors today. Germany has moved up from fifth into silver, while the Netherlands continue to hold gold and Hungary bronze.

    There were some concerns among drivers before the marathon about the artificial surface which all the obstacle phase took place on, but competitors reported it drove well and was not slippery.

    Britain still ninth

    Wilf Bowman-Ripley competing in the driving phase at WEG 2014The British team remain ninth, the position they held after dressage, with Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Georgina Hunt again contributing the best two scores (in driving, as opposed to ridden eventing, different drivers can contribute to the team mark in each phase).

    Wilf (right) has dropped one place from 17th to 18th after 99.71pen on the marathon (18th in this phase).

    “It’s not too good really,” said Wilf. “I worked the horses for 30min before I set off, but they were still fresh coming to the first obstacle. I put my borrowed leader, Unique, in the wheel for section A [first part of the marathon test] and then swapped him to the lead in section B, but he was still quite feisty for the first two obstacles and we missed a couple of turns. That was a bit my fault and a bit his fault.”

    Wilf also said he got stuck in obstacle five, the Normandie 2014: “That was my fault — the horses got me out of trouble.”

    Georgina Hunt’s 107.1pen marathon has dropped her from 18th after dressage to 21st.

    “I’m reasonably pleased — I wasn’t too sure how the horses would react to the atmosphere and I should have trusted them more because towards the end they weren’t taking me forwards so we made a few mistakes,” she said.

    Georgina had one knockdown in obstacle four which she attributed to the carriage spinning out on the surface and hitting a post.

    Dick Lane was first out for Britain and has risen one place from 35th to 34rd with 114.34pen today.

    “We just had a little problem in obstacle one where the horses were very fresh and as in the dressage the atmosphere lifted them,” he said. “I was a bit ambitious and we got stuck, although not for long.

    “It was a very enjoyable marathon to drive, the obstacles were well marked. There were tight obstacles and flowing ones alternating and the water [at obstacles three and eight] cooled the horses down, so it was horse-friendly.”

    The driving concludes with the cones phase tomorrow.

    Bluffers’ guide to driving

    Driving times and results

    More updates from WEG online over the weekend; report on the driving in H&H this week, out Thursday, 11 September.

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