World Driving Championships for Pairs 2023

World Driving Championships for Pairs 2023

From September 27 to October 1, 2023, the city of Le Pin au Haras in France became the venue for the top driving event. 94 competitors with 273 horses from 23 countries of the world met the qualification criteria. The organizer was the oldest French national stud farm, Haras national du Pin, which has newly built facilities for organizing large international events in various equestrian disciplines.

The Slovak Republic was represented by three competitors, two of them from the Topoľčianky National Stud - Miroslav Matúška, Jozef Mašír and Jozef Bučkuliak, who had their premiere at the World Championships. Their results were also included in the team competition.

On Wednesday 27 Sept., the event started with the first veterinary check. All Slovak horses passed it successfully without the slightest problem. Out of 273 horses, only one horse did not pass the strict eye of judges and veterinarians. However, it did not threaten the Portuguese competitor Hugo Frias at the start, as his other two horses were eligible to compete.

The first sub-discipline – dressage – took place over the following two days. Among the Slovak competitors, the best result was achieved by Jozef Bučkuliak, who scored 69.11 points, which is 56.8%. This result secured him 75th place in dressage. Miroslav Matúška scored 70.65 points, or 55.8%, with his pair of Lipizzaners and took 80th place. Jozef Mašir finished in 88th position with a rating of 78.64 points, i.e. 50.9%.

The second sub-discipline was the marathon. The track was really difficult. The horses had to manage an almost 9 km long course in a hilly terrain with eight challenging obstacles with a lot of throwable elements. The author of the track was the renowned Hungarian course designer Gábor Fintha. The high difficulty is also evidenced by the fact that three competitors did not finish the marathon. Among the Slovaks, Jozef Mašír fared best, taking 43rd place. Miroslav Matúška finished shortly behind him, in 48th place. Jozef Bučkuliak won the 56th place.

The last day of the event was marked by cones. Course designer Gábor Fintha also built a technically demanding course with a strict time limit. Miroslav Matúška confirmed his many years of experience when he was the only Slovak to pass the course without dropping a ball. However, the time limit was inexorable. Penalty points earned for exceeding the time moved him to 58th place. Jozef Bučkuliak achieved a slightly better time, but at the cost of 8 dropped balls, thus occupying the 85th place. Jozef Mašir dropped only 6 balls, but with a longer time, the number of penalty points was enough for him to rank 87th.

After summing up the results from all sub-disciplines, Miroslav Matúška took the best place in the total competition, when he took 59th place. Jozef Bučkuliak won 77th place and Jozef Mašír finished 82nd. In the team competition, Slovakia took 17th place.

Great recognition goes to the entire organizing team for the excellent conditions and great organization of such a demanding event.

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