TWO IN A ROW FOR BOYD EXELL!
The Longines Equita Lyon International Equestrian Competition was hosting this stage of the FEI Driving World CupTM presented by the Laiterie de Montaigu for the third time. It had everything: power, speed, control and handling. And the Australian Boyd Exell – two-time world champion, eight-time World Cup winner and number 7 in the world – showed he had these qualities in abundance as he won in front of a raucous crowd in 144.83. He achieved a record time with his four bay horses, and notched up his second win in a row in the Lyon arena. His experience allowed him to balance risk-taking and control against six other teams in this first stage of the World Cup circuit. "Lyon has a really great course, and the facilities and spectators are amazing. You can really tell they love this discipline," said the winner at the press conference.
Dries Degrieck, the Belgian newcomer to the indoor circuit – who won the class on Saturday – also put in a great performance, finishing on the second step of the podium (147.62). "For me, this is all new. This is the first time I have been involved in the World Cup indoor circuit, and my first time in Lyon. I was selected last year, but the pandemic decided otherwise. So, I was really excited to be competing here," he said after the event. At only 26 years of age, the young Belgian driver is part of the up-and-coming new generation that the older drivers are keeping their eye on. As the champion Boyd Exell pointed out: "I am not surprised by the fighting spirit of Dries because he works hard and has already proven himself at this level."
Koos de Ronde from the Netherlands, ranked sixth in the world, tried all he could to do better, but had to be satisfied with the third place (173.54). "Given the speed of the two previous teams, I had to take a lot of risks. Unfortunately, I made a mistake that cost me dearly," said the Dutch driver, adding that the Lyon stage is always a major event for him: "Lyon opens the season, so it's a really important date to take stock of where everyone is at. After the year we have had, I think the level was pretty good, so I am very happy to be on the podium. The conditions for the event are fabulous here."
Benjamin Aillaud was the only French driver in the starting line-up. He finished seventh in the class, and was particularly happy with the warm welcome the drivers received from the public Lyon: "We almost feel at home here. The organising team and the Rhône-Alpes Carriage-Driving Association manage to combine top-level sport and a great atmosphere. It is really quite emotional to be part of!" As regards his personal performance, the French driver really believes in his team of Lipizzan horses: "I think this team has real potential, but my horses need to build together and gain experience."
Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, the organiser of the Longines Equita Lyon International Equestrian Competition particularly wanted to thank "the International Equestrian Federation for its confidence as regards the organisation of this event, the Laiterie de Montaigu, the main partner of this competition, and the amazing drivers, who put on a magnificent show, creating an incredible atmosphere." In conclusion, she added: "We are particularly moved to see all the happy faces, to see this competition bring all its light and atmosphere, after the difficult period we have all been through. Thank you to everyone! And a big thank you to all these great champions who came to the Longines Equita Lyon International Equestrian Competition."
- Boyd Exell (AUS): 144.83
- Dries Degrieck (BEL): 147.62
- Koos de Ronde (NED): 1754