Ocala Florida - Chester Weber took a commanding lead in the USEF Four-in-Hand National Championship with a victory in the marathon phase Saturday at the 25th Anniversary of the Live Oak International combined driving event. Weber will look to win the championship for an unprecedented 13th time Sunday in the culminating cones phase of the competition.
With his stellar performance in the marathon, Weber has now won the two first phases of the three-phase competition. On Thursday, Weber with his team of KWPN Dutch Warmbloods -- Boris W, Danzer, Para and Ultra --won the driving dressage test with a score of 45.25.
"I was really pleased. Great things happened for Live Oak today. The gate broke records and I was also really tickled with the horses. It was a great feature day for driving. The horses did a great job and that's what we are all here for. It's about these horses," Weber said.
Lisa Stroud was second in the marathon and stands second overall in the Four-in-Hand Championship. She also finished second in dressage.
Suzy Stafford and her Hall Of Fame Morgan PVF Peace of Mind won the marathon for FEI Single Horse which, like the Four-In-Hand competition is a Selection Trial for this year's World Championships. Stafford also won the initial dressage day to keep her firmly in first place.
Stafford said she found the course both challenging and entertaining. "The Ariat was extremely technical. It had a lot of jagged lines. I took a little bit tighter route than I should have. That one was my nemesis. I would say my favorite one was the water hazard. I have a Morgan horse and she is extremely powerful and extremely bold so she made it really easy for me to drive that hazard."
Peace of Mind, known as "Hunny," was the 2015 USEF International Horse of the Year and was named to the Horse Stars Hall of Fame for 2016. Stafford is seeking a third straight USEF Single Horse Driving Championship.
Sunday is the final day of the Live Oak International and the driving competition culminates with the cones phase. Sunday also features the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier, the final event determining which North American show jumpers qualify to ride in the Longines FEI World Cup Finals next month in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Full results of all classes and divisions are available on line at liveoakinternational.com.