There’s only one – Michael Freund still undefeated in the 14th year

(acm/mps) It was the 14th time the International STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS Horse Show presented indoor driving and it was the 13th time the drivers competed in the state capital for the SCHENKER GERMAN MASTER. It was also the fifth occasion when FEI World Cup DrivingTM points were up for grabs.

And he always came out on top: Michael Freund (Germany) is and remains the king of the four-in-hand drivers in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. In front of 8,560 excited spectators “Mr Driving” celebrated his final appearance in the state capital on Saturday afternoon once more with a driving performance of the very highest class and he remains the yardstick. After the first round, the four time World Champion was 3.11 seconds behind the leading Christoph Sandmann, his world Championship winning team mate in Aachen. But after a real hell-drive, the 52-year-old turned things around in the decisive second round. Freund’s overall time of 252.38 seconds was the mark to beat and Sandmann, who started last, was unable to go any faster. His overall time of 259.04 seconds gave him the runner’s up spot. Back in third was the Hungarian Jozsef Dobrovitz (289.95).

“At the moment it is very very difficult for me to say anything,” said a visibly moved Freund afterwards when searching for words. “The previous 14 years here in Stuttgart were always fantastic for me, always a marvellous time,” and he could not hide the sadness of his final farewell from the Stuttgart arena. But he quickly announced: “I’ll naturally be here in the coming years supporting the organisers in some way or other.“ Retiring as the undefeated champion makes him very happy revealed the four time World Cup winner. “It’s something really quite special when my name is the only one on the list of winners.” Continuing Freund thought it will certainly take quite some time before a four-in-hand driver achieves the same feat. The crowd’s favourite was full of praise for the fans in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle: “Nowhere else is the arena so regularly sold out as here in Stuttgart. It’s a unique atmosphere.”

Just as excited by the spectacular drives and the atmosphere in the hall was Show Director Gotthilf Riexinger: “We’ve seen amazingly good sport – especially from all the participating drivers – and a quite fantastic crowd. I’d really like to congratulate all the drivers for their performances. But without wanting to belittle the performances of the others, I’d like to say a special thanks to one of them.” Riexinger not only showcased Freund’s unique series of wins but also the dramatic way he snatched victory this year. And Freund himself admitted: “After the first round and the bad mistake in the second, I thought today is the day when somebody else will win for the first time. Unfortunately – or thank God – things didn’t turn out that way.”