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Koos de Ronde on Top of the World
Koos de Ronde of The Netherlands won the FEI World Cup Driving Championship with two clear rounds in the final phase of the competition in Bordeaux on February 9. “To win this gives me a real kick!” exclaimed Koos after claiming his first FEI World Cup Driving Championship title. “I finally did it – what a great feeling!”
Koos rode a carefully calculated final round, following his strategy that the second gate would be a bottleneck. He completed the course designed by International O-course designer Gábor Fintha of Hungary 2 seconds faster than Boyd Exell of Australia, who placed second overall, with IJsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands finishing third.
The winning round played out as a tight battle between the two top drivers, with Koos positioned at 3.12 seconds behind Boyd, who was in top position after the first phase.
"I had finished just behind Boyd so many times," Koos said. "It is amazing that it all came together for me here in Bordeaux." He had started the indoor season with the same team of horses he had driven to a third-place finish in last year's Final but reached the conclusion that the combination was no longer working. After his fourth-place finishes in Budapest and Hannover earlier this season, he decided to recompose his team to improve his chances of qualifying for the Final.
At Olympia in December, Koos substituted for a leader horse one that had been part of his team several times during the previous indoor season. Despite his third-place finish at Olympia, he remained dissatisfied with the team and decided to also change his wheeler horse. The new team worked like a charm.
"I am really pleased that I found the right team in time so I could qualify for the Final," said Koos, comparing indoor driving to "a jigsaw puzzle - anyone can win, but the pieces have to fit together."
He said he plans to compete in March at Flanders Horse Expo and has his sights set on the European Championships in September.
In 2004 and 2008 Koos was named Dutch Champion. He went on to win the team gold medal at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010. He has had numerous individual and team placings in the World Cup, including team bronze in 2006 and team silver in 2004. In the National Championships, he placed second in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and third in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011.