Germany’s Michael Freund has fixed it again. The four times FEI World Cup™ Driving winner received a wild card to start in Mechelen after his wild card win in Stuttgart. The golden team member of the WEG Aachen 2006 put down an excellent performance again in nearly sold out Nekkerhal by winning the fifth leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving and at the same time taking the lead in the standings together with his indoor rival Ijsbrand Chardon.
Like Chardon, Freund had a somewhat disappointing start in the warm up competition in Mechelen. Chardon was eliminated after his team knocked over an obstacle and he forgot to take the last gate before the finish. Freund knocked a for him unusual number of balls down and came fourth: ‘I looked too much at the inner side of the gates so all my faults were made on the outside,’ explained Freund. But the 1994 World Champion got himself back on track in the World Cup competition and went double clear in the second fastest time. Both Freund and Chardon qualified for the winning round as well as the Belgian crowd’s favourite Gert Schrijvers, who had received a wild card as well.
Schrijvers was given a second start by the judges after they made a judging error. The multiple Belgian Champion took advantage of this second chance and drove a nice clear round with his team of Arabo Friesian sport horses. ‘I am happy with my third place, it is just a pity that I don’t get any points for this result!’ Schrijvers has one more start in Amsterdam and is looking forward to compete there: ‘I see that my team is making progress. I hope for a place in the top three so I can qualify for the Final. Luckily, Freund does not start in Amsterdam, so my chances are a bit bigger!’
Chardon started a little too slow in the shortened course, designed by Germany’s Falk Böhnisch: ‘I knew I only had to deal with Freund and I could not make any faults to make up for the four seconds I was behind on him.’ Unfortunately he knocked a ball off the first gate, which enlarged the gap between Freund and Chardon. After Freund drove a spectacular clear round again, it was clear that he won his second World Cup competition during his second start in Mechelen. ‘I was really pleased that I was last to go in the winning round,’ comments Freund. ‘Because Chardon had made a fault, I decided to take the safe route on the way to the finish.’
Switzerland’s Werner Ulrich had hoped for a better performance after his fourth place in Geneva. He won the warm up competition and was last to go in the World Cup, but after he knocked one ball down, his team lost its rhythm and two more balls fell. ‘I simply did not pay enough attention,’ explains Ulrich, who came fourth again.
For the Hungarian trio Attila Bardos, Laszlo Juhasz and Jozsef Dobrovitz, Mechelen was already their last World Cup™ competition. Bardos was well on his way to a high placing but knocked an obstacle over on his way to the finish. ‘I am pleased anyway with my fifth place. My horses have really made progress in the last competitions and I hope I qualify for the World Cup again next season,’ explains 28-year old Bardos.
Dobrovitz made some changes to his team but had to be content with the seventh place. Laszlo Juhasz came second in the warm up but was unable to equal this result in the World Cup competition where he came last.
Third wild card competitor Geert Debrauwer was excited about his World Cup debut in Mechelen en thoroughly enjoyed participating. The silver team member of Aachen 2006 was pleased with his sixth place.
1. Michael Freund (Ger) 228.05
2. Ijsbrand Chardon (Ned) 231.99
3. Gert Schrijvers (Bel) 248.23
4. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 150.10
5. Attila Bardos (Hun) 152.19
6. Geert Debrauwer (Bel) 167.93
7. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 169.84
8. Laszlo Juhasz (Hun) 173.31
Classification after 5 of 7 events:
1. Ijsbrand Chardon (Ned) 22
1. Michael Freund (Ger 22
3. Koos de Ronde (Ned) 17
4. Jozsef Dobrovitz (Hun) 15
5. Christoph Sandmann (Ger) 14
6. Tomas Eriksson (Swe) 12
7. Gert Schrijvers (Bel) 8
7. Werner Ulrich (Sui) 8
9. Benjamin Aillaud (Fra) 7
10. Atilla Bardos (Hun) 5
11. Fredrik Persson (Swe) 3
11. Laszlo Juhasz (Hun) 3
13. Daniël Würgler (Sui) 2
13. Theo Timmerman (Ned) 2
13. Geert Debrauwer (Bel) 2