Driving Valkenswaard International 2018

Posted: 28-05-2018

When you start an international driving contest with a disappointing 15th place at dressage, a top 3 position does not seem feasible. However, Tristan and his team managed to do this trick: they climbed from a 15th rank to a podium place at Driving Valkenswaard International 2018.

With high temperatures of about 28 degrees the show grounds of host Boyd Exell are sunny and warm.  Tristan’s horses are very energetic during their dressage test though. Their tension results in a disappointing result for Tristan and Fleur Senden acting as his groom: a 15th rank. In the evening Carlo Vermeulen and Tristan participate in a bike challenge. With a fourth place they missed out on winning the bike. On Friday Tristan’s horses enjoyed a day rest. For the drivers a ‘tug-of-war’ was organised. The pair drivers competed against the four-in-hand drivers. The pair drivers won and celebrated their victory with two beers and a cap.

On Saturday a challenging marathon was awaiting the drivers and their horses, including one of the most talked about obstacles, number 5 - with its steep climb and bank – and no less than three water obstacles. Tristan, with Carlo Vermeulen as his groom, starts at half past 11 and drives fiercely towards an excellent second place.  Tristan improves quite a few obstacle times.  Due to their fantastic marathon, Team Verheijen spectacularly climbs from the 15th to the 4th rank! Now a top 3 position comes within their reach, if they manage to keep their minds calm in the cones competition on Sunday. And they certainly do so! Tristan navigates his horses carefully through the course until the last gate where the carriage hits a cone and lodges off a ball. Such a pity, but since no other competitor manages to complete the trial without penalty points, Tristan ends at a nice 3rd position as overall final result. “The marathon and cones were going well. There are still some minor points for improvement in the marathon that we will train at home.  But overall I am really satisfied”, Tristan says. “Our dressage test was not good enough but we know how to improve this and will do our utmost best to perform better at Beekbergen.”

After the cones competition the horses kept their harnesses on for the final of the so-called ProAm Challenge. From day one, Tristan as ‘prof’ was coupled to ‘amateur’ Sam Gees from Belgium. After the dressage, marathon and cones Tristan and Sam finished second and were classified for the final round. This final consists of a shortened route of the cones course that is first completed by Sam. By handing over his whip to Tristan, Sam enables him to start the same course. Their two very fast rounds were rewarded with a second place in the ProAm Challenge.

Team Verheijen won an additional prize in the ‘Sandmann Sprint’. The drivers had the opportunity to win some extra prizemoney during a sprint on a 100 meter track in between obstacle 3 and 4. Tristan finished runner-up. His time of 8.87 seconds won a nice amount of money. Switzerland’s Martin Wagner won this challenge. He finished in 6.57 seconds and took the first prize.

Team Verheijen looks back at a wonderful experience with nice results.