Well on my way to Kentucky
After the Dutch Championships I successfully competed at Saumur, France. I won the dressage, I drove a very strong marathon in which I came second and I won the combined competition. I went to Saumur to try two other horses in the marathon and it went very well. With Victory and Whooper in the wheel and Zidane and Isovlas Paganini in the lead I could take any turn. I just had a small incident in one of the obstacles when one of my wheeler horses fell down. Luckily it was solved quickly and the horse did not get injured. (IJsbrand Chardon won the marathon in Aachen 2010. Photo Credit: Rinaldo de Craen)
After Saumur I started to prepare my team for Aachen. I took my best team with the same horses I used at the 2008 World Championships in Beesd. Unfortunately, my all-round horse Argus injured his leg just before the horse inspection in Aachen. He was really lame and was taken out for the competition. Luckily he is getting better now and I will be able to use him again this season. He probably twisted his leg. It was extra sad because I had considered bringing another horse to Aachen instead, but I decided not to do it. If I had done this, it would have all been different, but that is the sport! Now I had to use my marathon horse Tomasson in the dressage. I had several small mistakes, which resulted in the 6th place in this phase. For the first time, we had to drive the cones before the marathon and I was very happy with my double clear round. I came back very strong in the marathon where I was assisted by my wife Paulien and my son Bram, who celebrated his 17th birthday a few days before. We won the marathon by a fraction of a second ahead of Boyd Exell from Australia, who keeps performing very strong. We came second in the combined competition behind Exell. Despite the bad luck with Argus I am happy with my results and I believe we are on the right way to Kentucky. It was good to compete in Aachen against Boyd Exell, I now know where I stand. I have a good feeling about my horses, they are in good form. Chester Weber was in Aachen as a spectator and I consider him and Boyd as top favourites for the medals. It was a shame that Chester was not competing in Aachen!
To drive the marathon as last phase of the combined competition was all right. We started in reverse order of the standings after dressage and cones, so I was one of the last to go. The marathon was broadcasted live on television and the TV people had insisted on this experiment to be able to produce a winner of the combined competition at the end of the marathon. To me, I prefer to have the cones as last competition. Now, we did not have as much tension as we used to have in the cones. The obstacle driving competition can be nerve wrecking and is always very exciting, anything can still happen, for both the individual and the team standings!
My next show will be in Lähden, Germany, at the home of my fellow competitor Christoph Sandmann. I need to drive a good dressage again to make up for Aachen and I look forward to battle against the top drivers again!