“Success is a by-product of excellence,” Deepak Chopra famously said.
In four-in-hand driving, it’s a product of Exell-ence.
Australia’s Boyd Exell swept the FEI Driving World Cup™ at the 37th Stuttgart German Masters, capturing his ninth win at the storied venue on Saturday.
The 10-time World Cup champion topped the qualifying class for the Driving World Cup™, the Prize of iWest FEI Driving World Cup, on Friday by nearly 10 seconds, triggering the timers in 137.65 seconds. NED’s Koos de Ronde finished second in 148.39, while countryman Ijsbrand Chardon (NED) took third in 279.60.
Saturday, it was rinse ‘n repeat for the reigning World Cup champion. Driving Bajnok, Barny, Mad Max 81 and Maestoso Jupiter, Exell took the W in the Jeroen Houterman-designed course once again, this time stopping the clock at 151.16 seconds.
“Michi had set a good time and it put us under more pressure. I and my horses love the horse show in Stuttgart, and they always fly here,” said a delighted Exell. “The course was super-fast and better for more flowing horses.”
Chardon and de Ronde reversed roles on the podium with times of 160.38 and 226.40, respectively. According to the runner up, luck was on his side: “One of my horses is a little older,” said Chardon. “I can’t drive quite so fast on this fast course. Therefore, I had a bit of luck.”
It was the opposite case for third-placed de Ronde: “A trace broke and my horse stumbled taking the team to the left, and then I lost track a little.”
“You could see today just how selective the course was,” confirmed FEI judge Mark Wentein. “All of them made mistakes but the best came through—and the best is Boyd.“
Winning is something the reigning world no. 1 Exell’s at. In 2023, he’s won 17 of 21 FEI starts and is trending on an 81% win average. That absurd stat jumps to 90% for podium finishes. The only season of his past five that was more successful was 2022, when Exell average an 89% win rate over 19 FEI appearances.
Which is to say Exell doesn’t always win. But he usually does.
The FEI Driving World Cup™ next heads to Stockholm, Sweden on December 1st and 2nd.