Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twenty-Second National Title for Four-in-Hand Driver IJsbrand Chardon (NED)

Twenty-second national title for IJsbrand Chardon

At the end of May, I won the Dutch National four-in-Hand Driving Championship for the twenty-second time in my career. A Dutch Championship is always special and I never get bored of winning it! The Championship took place during the World Cup Qualifying competition in Zelhem (the Netherlands) and I also won the international class, ahead of my compatriots Theo Timmerman and Koos de Ronde.

It was only decided two weeks before the event that Zelhem would host the Dutch National Championship, but I did not mind that. At the start of this year, I choose to start my outdoor competition season and training schedule 5-6 weeks later than normal. The World Four-in-Hand Championships during the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky take place in the first week in October, which is much later than my usual ending of the season. In Zelhem I was pleasantly surprised by my dressage performance, for which I used my World Championship Team. If I drive like this in Kentucky, I will be very happy! The dressage is a decisive factor and I am extremely pleased with the way my horses went.

The marathon was a different matter though..! I noticed very well in this phase that we only had a short period of training before Zelhem. My fellow competitors had all driven more marathons than we did and I really had to work hard to keep up with the speed! The level is very high at the moment and I was still happy with my fifth place in the marathon which abled me to keep my lead in the Dutch Championships and the international competition.

I also had different, but experienced people on the back of my carriage in Zelhem. My wife Paulien stayed home because our eldest daughter Jeannette (18) had to do her school exams. We believe school is very important and that is also the reason why my son Bram (16) will not be able to compete in one of the nicest international pony driving competitions in The Netherlands this summer. Bram has moved on to national level with his pony team at the start of this season. He and I now regularly compete at the same shows, so he won’t be able to backstep for me all the time. But Paulien and Bram will for sure be on my team in Aachen and at the World Equestrian Games!

The final obstacle driving competition went very well, I drove a clear round within the time allowed and it was a great feeling to hear the national anthem being played for me for the twenty second time!

I know what to work on to perform better in the marathon and I will use different wheeler horses in Saumur this weekend. After Saumur, the next important competition is Aachen. I will meet my strongest opponents there; one of them is Boyd Exell from Australia. I consider him as a medal candidate. I feel it is important to scale yourself and not to stay on your own isle.


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