He was eagerly awaited and didn’t disappoint: three-time title-holder Martin Hölle simply dazzled in the Pôle International de Sports Equestres (PISE) arena during the second day of competition in the FEI Driving World Championship – Pairs. The five judges in this dressage test placed him atop the leaderboard of 92 competitors as the only rider to score fewer than 40 points. The Hungarians also took the lead in the team ranking thanks to the supporting performance of Kristof Osztertag, who placed third.
Martin Hölle is quite simply the best pairs driver in the world today. At just 26 years of age, he already boasts an imposing list of achievements, with three consecutive individual and team World Championship titles won in 2017, 2019 and 2021. His performance was an example of fluidity and precision. With his pair of Dutch horses, Eppie (grey) and Juventus (black), he impressed the judges, who all placed him first with a score of 36.92 pts – the only competitor to slip under the psychological 40-point mark. He holds a lead of just over 4 points over his nearest rival, the French No. 1 Franck Grimonprez. The rider from the north of France produced a very fine performance, scoring 41.45 pts, two points better than at the Concours d’Attelage International held at the Haras du Pin in July, where he won outright. The provisional podium was completed by another Hungarian, Kristof Osztertag, who was well behind the leading duo.
Hungary now leads the team rankings with a total of 85.38 pts. For the time being, France remains close to the leaders in second place with a score of 93.04 pts. Germany, with two top-performing teams – Anna Sandmann, 4th, and Marco Freund, 5th – is now in third place.
Felix-Marie Brasseur, the French national coach, remarked, “We had a number of horses in the French team that weren’t quite ready yet, and things didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. In my opinion, the judges
were tougher on the first day than on the second. It’s not the judges’ fault, we just have to be better.
“Franck did a very, very good test. There’s still room for improvement. For example, he needs more juice and expression at certain moments, but it was very clean. François (Dutilloy) put in a great performance this morning with his left horse, who was much better than usual, and his right horse, who was a bit behind, probably a bit stressed. He thinks we asked for too much during the preparation, and it’s important to take that into account. He’s doing really well … but we’re a long way from the frontrunners.
“Now we have to do our best during the marathon, and that means not making any mistakes by going fast without dropping any balls. On the last day, the first two teams to go through will have to run good courses so that the last team mate has less pressure… To beat the Hungarians, Martin Hölle would have to go through a door the wrong way or forget one! [laughs]”
The championship runs Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Haras du Pin, France, and features 92 competitors and 270 horses representing 25 nations.
Saturday September 30
Sunday October 1
To follow: medal ceremony
Provisional individual ranking (after dressage)
1- Martin Hölle (HUN) / 36.92 pts
2- Franck Grimonprez (FRA) / 41.45 pts
3- Kristof Osztertag (HUN) / 48.46 pts
Provisional team ranking (after dressage)
1- Hungary / 85.38 pts
2- France / 93.04 pts
3- Germany / 98.74 pts
The event can be viewed live on Facebook here.
~ with files from Haras National du Pin press office