“Mr Driving” says goodbye – STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS present Michael Freund with a touching farewell

(acm/mps) For the past 14 years the four-in-hand drivers have counted as one of the highlights of the International STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS Horse Show, on all 14 occasions the winner in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle was Michael Freund. No question, that the four time World Champion and four time World Cup winner, who has now ended his international career, would be given an emotional and moving farewell. After a final Pas de Deux with his long time rival and team mate Christoph Sandmann, the Stuttgart organisers had a special surprise up their sleeves for their crowd favourite. Mary, the 17-year-old mare, who pulled Freund to the majority of his successes and in the meantime is at stud, was led out into the arena so that she could stand in the spotlight together with her driver for one last time.

“He’s the person that has influenced the whole sport of driving for decades in his own inimitable way,” attested Reinhard Wendt, member of the board of the “Deutschen Reiterlichen Vereinigung” and the General Secretary of the German Olympic Committee for Equestrianism (DOKR). “He is the personification of the answers to the questions: Where does success come from, what does the will to achieve mean, what does professionalism mean?” said Wendt, who ended his touching speech with the words: “An unparalleled era has come to an end. But you, dear Michael, have paved the way for the future. Thanks for everything.”

An opinion that the Stuttgart audience, Freund’s audience, shared. 8,560 excited fans had seen in the afternoon how the twelve time German Champion had won his 13th MASTER title in a row. A further 6,500 witnessed his farewell in the evening. “Michael, you will stay our Friend – Friend is the German word for Freund – was written on one of the numerous banners. The master driver promised:” As long as I stay fit and healthy I will come along here to the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle every year for the rest of my life. Stuttgart is and will remain my second home.” The standing ovation lasting several minutes he received from his fans was enjoyed by Michael Freund as a passenger – the reins had been taken over just before by his ten-year-old son Marco, who should now continue Freund’s unparalleled driving career.