Four time world driving champion Ijsbrand Chardon admitted his nerves were put through the shredder at the Polaris RANGER Driving horse inspection on September 21st at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon.
The Dutchman’s prime marathon horse, 19-year-old Senator was stiff after rolling over in his stable overnight and was sent by the judges to the holding box. After an agonising wait, not helped by the baking sun, Senator was finally passed fit to compete, along with the other 94 horses in the field.
“I accept it, it’s fair, the judges are doing their job,” said the man who claimed FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) team gold in 2014. “But it was not nice for me.”
Chardon, who last claimed the individual WEG crown in 2002, is the name on many people’s lips before the dressage phase starts on tomorrow morning.
“You can never underestimate Ijsbrand,” said Boyd Exell (AUS), who is aiming to win his third successive individual WEG gold. “But then you have Koos De Ronde (NED) and Christoph Sandmann (GER) who did very fast cross country times this year. Then you have got underdogs like Bram Chardon (NED) and Edouard (Simonet) (BEL) who are there for when any of the top guns make mistakes.”
The Australian maestro’s season has been heavily disrupted by injury after he broke his ankle jumping off a moving carriage at the Sandringham Horse Driving Trials in the UK in July. It is still sore enough to have flared up and required icing after the 46-year-old attempted to walk the marathon course on Wednesday, but the man himself is not expecting it to feature in his title defence.
“I don’t think about it,” he said simply. “I just concentrate on my job, on my horses, everything else blows into insignificance.”
Home favourite Chester Webb, second to Exell four years ago in Normandy, was first and foremost delighted to have got through the “nerve-wracking” horse inspection.
“There is a home team advantage and disadvantage but I am just trying to focus on my own game and be as good as I can,” the USA driver said. Although he did admit to pin-pointing the dressage phase, having scored a brilliant 31.00 points at his most recent event, the Dutch National Championships in Beekbergen in July.
Germany’s Christoph Sandmann finished second in that event and despite attempting to play down his chance – modestly insisting that he is “seventh or eighth” favourite – the veteran is undoubtedly one to watch.
The final word lies with Ijsbrand Chardon who, buoyed by coming through the horse inspection unscathed, insisted: “I came here to win it, not for the second place.”
Eight nations to compete in the Polaris RANGER Driving at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon: Australia, Belgium ,Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, USA.