Over the weekend, Belgian farrier Dries Degrieck assured himself a spot in the FEI Driving World Cup Final in Bordeaux during the eighth qualifying leg in Germany.

It all came down to Sunday. After a fast and clear first round on Friday, 28-year-old Dries Degreick was well-placed for a strong result in Sunday’s FEI Driving World Cup. He just may not have anticipated how strong. 

Currently 7th in the FEI Driving World Ranking for Four-in-Hand, Degreick took second place on Friday behind reigning World Cup champion Boyd Exell (AUS) and ahead of previous champion Ijsbrand Chardon (NED). He was again in good company on Sunday, producing a clear, fast round with his powerful, bay, KWPN team (Zilverone, Hunter, Kane B, Leon, and Big Star) ahead of the drive-off.  Though he was pipped for time by the Netherlands’ Bram Chardon, a surprise knocked element from Exell dropped the Australian into fourth place and out of contention for the second round. Instead, Koos de Ronde, also of the Netherlands, slotted-in after a fourth-place finish on Friday.

In the final showdown—considered by many to be a dry run for the upcoming Final in France—de Ronde, first in the ring, suffered two knock-downs for a final score of 174.58. This took the pressure off Degrieck and Chardon, but only slightly. Next up, Degrieck flew around the course, stopping the clock on a clean 161.14. Last to go, Chardon’s accurate, grey team employed the tight lines and impressive tracks that helped them to #3 in the world, but a costly knock-down added four points to their total, leaving Chardon just 0.83 behind Degrieck for second place.

With this career-high win—and just in time—Degrieck earned 10 ranking points and a guaranteed place in the FEI Driving World Cup™ Final.

Narrow margins like those seen in Leipzig are typical of this stage in the series, where ranking points determine the initial running order in the Final. There, six riders will vie for their shot in the Championship, including Excell, the consummate favorite, who leads the way on 30 points, and a shot at a possible 11th World Cup Title.

The rest of the startlist includes Bram Chardon (27 points), Ijsbrand Chardon (24 points), Degrieck (22 points), Michael Brauchle of Germany (22 points), and de Ron (19 points). Tune-in on February 3-4, 2024 to find out who takes the crown.