Caen, France – A warm, sunny day at La Prairie Racecourse set the stage for the exciting marathon phase of the FEI World Team and Individual for Four-in-Hands Driving Championship at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Chester Weber had a solid day of driving on Saturday, and will head into the final phase of the championship in second place. The U.S. Team has driven into fourth place with a score of 292.28 following a day filled with challenging obstacles.
Weber (Ocala, Fla.) continued his mission for an Individual medal with an excellent performance in the marathon phase. He guided his and Jane Clark’s team of KWPN geldings through the course which contained both technical and galloping obstacles. For his efforts, Weber finished the marathon phase in 12th place. Overall, he sits in 2nd place on a score of 128.60.
“It was challenging out there. It was sort of like everything you could imagine was asked of you from the most technical to really racing,” Weber explained. “I had a little bit of trouble in the last obstacle with my right leader. I made the decision to give him 10 seconds rest before that and I think that it just sort of took him off the bit a little bit which was a mistake. In that A turn I think that 360 degree turn sort of shocked him a little bit but that’s life.”
Even though he had a minor bobble, he was happy with this team’s performance on the World Championship stage.
“I’m really pleased with the horses, they did a really very great job and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Weber said. “I wouldn’t trade them for another team.”
Though he slid from first place to second, he remains optimistic, saying, “It is sometimes nice to be behind hunting [for the lead]. I feel good about our cones record, and let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
Lisa Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) had a great day on Saturday in her first FEI World Equestrian Games appearance, finishing the marathon in 25th place. Though not unfamiliar with World Championship competition, having represented the U.S. in six Pony World Driving Championships, Stroud is new to the Four-in-Hand scene. Today, she demonstrated she was right at home with the world’s best Four-in-Hand drivers.
“That was great! I have only been driving this team since January, and this is my seventh attempt at a marathon with them. It was great,” said an enthusiastic Stroud. “They apparently love the World Equestrian Games, some a little too enthusiastically at the beginning, but then they settled into their job, and were very fun to drive today. I was very excited to be here.”
Stroud was thrilled with her day, and rightfully so, as she is in 23rd place with a score of 163.68. She was thankful for her team of Dutch Warmblood geldings owned by Willow Star LLC and Koos de Ronde, saying, “My horses went really well, and if I wasn’t in love with them before, I am now. They were just incredible.”
Also making her FEI World Equestrian Games debut, Misdee Wrigley Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) rounded out the U.S. effort, having a successful day out on the marathon course. She and her own team of Dutch Warmblood geldings had a respectable performance on a tough track. At the end of the day, Wrigley Miller was 39th in the marathon and goes into the cones phase in 38th place on a score of 188.38.
“It was amazing. I mean, the crowd, the atmosphere, the hazards drove so beautifully, they really did,” Wrigley Miller said. “Once we got settled and in the rhythm, we were on. I think to myself that eight months ago I had never even tried this. To go from that to what I did today, I am so pleased. It is just an incredible experience. I am having the time of my life.”
Wrigley Miller is looking forward to the final phase since she enjoys it and has spent much time training cones over the summer.
“I am excited for the cones,” Wrigley Miller noted. “My horses are really good and responsive. Richard Nicoll builds great courses. They are a thinking driver’s course. You really have to think about your line. When you drive the correct line on his course you really can get the time and a clean round. You have to really be precise, know your strategy and stick to it.”
In the Individual standings, Boyd Exell of Australia is in the lead with a score of 128.60, while Theo Timmerman is third on a score of 133.88. The Netherlands is atop the team leaderboard with a score of 263.19, followed by Germany in second with 277.56 and Hungary in third on a score of 283.63.
The 2014 FEI World Team and Individual for Four-in-Hands Driving Championship comes to a close on Sunday with the cones phase deciding who will claim a Gold medal. The final phase will begin at 8:00am local time.
To learn more about the FEI World Team and Individual for Four-in-Hands Driving Championship at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, visit: http://www.normandy2014.com/2014-games/the-disciplines/4/driving.
Follow the U.S. Driving Team here.