September 8, 2008 — The 19th edition of the World Four-in-Hand Driving Championship 2008 in Beesd, the Netherlands, concluded September 7. The overall winner was Ijsbrand Chardon. Chardon, who won his fourth individual world title on his home soil in Beesd, drove a double clear round in the final obstacle driving competition and also contributed to the gold medal of the Dutch team.
Chardon withstood a valiant charge on gold by the USA’s Chester Weber, who will bring individual silver home to his Ocala, Fla., base. It was an exciting final for Weber who was in second place in the standings after his fantastic dressage victory and a good marathon. Weber fought until the very last minute, but Chardon proved unbeatable. With 8.22 penalty points ahead of Weber, Chardon secured his fourth gold medal. Australia’s Boyd Exell took the bronze.
Weber’s teammate, Tucker Johnson was in 17th position after the first two phases and passed the finish line of the cones course with 6.28 penalty points to add to his score. As a result, he climbed one place in the individual standings.
“I already failed my usual rhythm in the marathon,” said Johnson. “It did not go the way I would have liked it to go, but to have competed here was a great experience.”
For American James Fairclough the World Championship also did not meet his expectations. Two of his horses came up sick just before the World Championship so Fairclough could not put down his typical performance. He did not go home empty-handed though: He won the presentation competition on the opening day in Beesd.
Team USA battled for every point in the team competition. Weber, Johnson and Fairclough finished fifth in the team portion. Host nation the Netherlands took the team gold, ahead of Germany and the drivers from Hungary. For complete results, visit www.wkvierspannen.nl/en/.
The next World Four-in-Hand Driving Championship will take place as part of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010.