Four-in-Hand World Championship Goes to Australia’s Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
Australia’s Boyd Exell held his lead through the cones phase on Sunday to win individual combined driving gold. Photo: Leslie Potter

Boyd Exell and his mostly-black team of mixed Warmbloods had a near-perfect weekend at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Exell took an early lead in dressage and held it throughout the competition, ultimately walking away with individual gold in the combined driving competition.

In the final day of combined driving, drivers navigate a course of pairs of cones with balls balanced on top of them. They can choose their route to a certain degree, but must go through the numbered pairs in order and in the right direction. Knocking down a ball or going over the optimum time results in penalties. Four drivers completed this phase with no penalties, but Exell’s lead was great enough that the 3.52 penalties he incurred did not put him out of first place.

Exell was impressed by the top competition he faced at the WEG, saying that normally he would relax after earning such a great dressage score on the first day of an event. “The other competitors made me work all weekend,” he said. “I had to concentrate and pretend I’d had a bad day the first day.”

Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands, who has been neck and neck with Exell on the European circuit this year, came in a very close second with just over one penalty point separating the top two placings. American driver Tucker Johnson earned the bronze medal in what he says is his final combined driving event.

“I’ve loved the time I’ve spent driving,” he said, reflecting on the end of his decades-long competitive career. “I’m glad that I got the chance to win an individual medal. Now it’s time to move on to more family time and more work time.”

In the team competition, the Dutch team came out on top. Along with Chardon’s second place, team members Koos De Ronde and Theo Timmerman came in fifth and sixth, respectively. Johnson’s success helped lead the United States to a team silver. Team members Jimmy Fairclough and Chester Weber both had fault-free rounds in the cones competition on Sunday, but problems in Saturday’s marathon knocked them both down in placings. They were ninth and tenth individually, but still posted respectable scores to help the U.S. team take home a medal.

Ijsbrand Chardon at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands won individual silver and team gold. Photo: Leslie Potter<

The team from Germany won the bronze medal in a close race with the Swedish team for third place. A costly error in the cones by Sweden’s Tomas Eriksson, who had been having a phenomenal event, put Sweden out of contention. At the end of the cones course, Eriksson steered his team through a gate in the wrong direction, which is a fault penalized by elimination. Sweden needed two scores to be in team medal contention, but Eriksson’s elimination left only one score for the team.

“We are not happy that we won [the bronze medal] by the Swedish driver’s error,” said German team chef d’equippe, Friedrich Otto-Erley. “But we are very happy to drive home with a bronze medal. We didn’t expect that result yesterday.”

Germany’s team members but in a respectable finish, coming in fourth, eleventh and thirteenth individually.

The next four-in-hand combined driving world championship will be held in Germany in 2012.

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WEG Combined Driving Medal Standings

NetherlandsBoyd Exell (AUS)
United StatesIjsbrand Chardon (NED)
GermanyTucker Johnson (USA)


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