Ocala, FL – Combined Driver Chester Weber continued his title as “record-breaking champion” during the Live Oak International competition, breaking his own record by winning the USEF National Four-In-Hand Championship for a record eight years in a row. Weber’s win took place at the prestigious Live Oak event in Ocala, Florida, during a weekend filled with thousands of fans, bad weather and an incident on course that required Weber to utilize his nerves of steel and vast driving experience.
Weber and his team turned in flawless dressage and cones performances, but Weber faced an incident on the marathon that he described as the longest 45 seconds of the year. “We had a very competitive marathon, winning four of the first five hazards and finishing second in number four by tenths of a second,” Weber said. “Then came the ‘Gulch,’ a signature hazard for Live Oak. We split the two lead horses on a post and it took us 45 seconds to get them going again. It was bad luck to split them on a post but good luck to get them free without needing a navigator to get down to get them free, because that costs additional penalties. The horses remained calm the entire time awaiting the direction to move, but it was the longest 45 seconds of the last year for me, and some slight confusion for them.”
Despite the marathon incident, Weber drove away a clear winner, beating second place finisher Jimmy Fairclough by more than 38 points. “Winning number eight was just as sweet as winning number one,” Weber said about his victory, adding that if asked how long he wants to keep his winning streak going he would easily say “forever.” “This consistent success is the product of a wonderful team of equine and human athletes all working together in a synergetic manner.”
Kate Matthews, the Regional Marketing Manager for SUCCEED, a sponsor of Team Weber, said watching Weber compete was like watching a master perform. “I watched everything and Chester was incredible,” Matthews said. “Chester was in first place going into the cones, but Jimmy was close behind and the weather was really bad. Lightening was flashing everywhere but Chester drove his horses completely calmly and put in a perfectly clean run. He is a master when he drives.”
Matthews added that despite a busy schedule during the Live Oak weekend, Weber took time out of his schedule to sign autographs at the SUCCEED booth. “Chester is such a gentleman and such a kind person. At one point a group of kids wearing ‘Chester Weber Fan Club’ T-shirts came up and Chester was so warm and sweet to the kids. It was really great and we are just so proud to sponsor him,” Matthews said.
Weber also attended a wine and cheese party at the Draper Equine Therapy booth, another Team Weber sponsor. “The atmosphere throughout the weekend was great and we had thousands of spectators on Saturday,” Weber said.
Following a winning weekend, Weber remains focused on the future. “This championship was one of our two major goals for the 2010 season and with this one behind us we can focus exclusively on WEG,” Weber said. “The Monday after the championship, however, we did begin training some of our new talent that we hope to call on to win title number nine next year. If luck is where opportunity meets preparedness, we are trying to get lucky again for title number nine by preparing early.”
While Weber may be working on new talent for next year’s USEF Championship, he is pleased with his team that took him to his eighth victory. “In the dressage phase I drove Boy W, Para, Rolex W and Grumus. My marathon team was Para, Rolex W, Horus du Bois and Boy W and my cones team was Grumus, Para, Boy W and Horus,” Weber said, adding that Horus, a 15-year-old French trotter, was a star on the marathon as the horse figured out how to untangle himself from the pole on the Gulch. “Horses keep you humble, but Horus certainly proved to be fantastic.”
For more information on Weber and his combined driving team, visit their website at www.chesterweber.com.
Photo: Combined Driver Chester Weber broke his own record, winning the United States Four-in-Hand National Championship for an eighth time in a row at the recent Live Oak International competition. Weber now has his sights set on competing in the World Equestrian Games. (Photo courtesy of My Elisabeth Weber)