West Grove, PA - September 13, 2004 - World Class drivers and horses battled it out for the USEF National Pairs Championship in Pennsylvania Sunday, but a local woman beat the out-of-towners, claiming the title in her own backyard. West Grove native Lisa Singer came through victorious, surpassing a record number of competitors to take home the national title. Set apart by less than five points, Singer drove to the finish amid screaming fans and family, with a combined score of 121.96 points.
"It is so special to have your grandchildren watching you," said Singer. "I am really happy with the win and proud of my horses. They went very well together in a very competitive event."
World and National Champion Larry Poulin came in second, after picking up 14 penalties to finish with 134.71. "I have never done well at the Laurels, it something of a jinx", Poulin relayed.
David Saunders fell into third by a mere fraction, at 134.86, and chalking it up to beginner’s luck, newcomer Eleanor Gallagher rounded out fourth place with 142.83. "This is the first time I have ever tried for the national pairs championship," said Gallagher. "I am not feeling any pressure here, my goal is just for the horses to do well.”
The USEF National Pairs Championship is divided into three phases, separated by the traditional three days of testing. Riders competed in Dressage on Friday, followed by Saturday’s Marathon and the Cones phase on Sunday.
This marks the third year the International Combined Driving event has been hosted by Laurels at Landhope in West Grove, Pennsylvania, but only the first year the Pairs Division has played host for the USEF Championship.
Following other weekend competition, Sterling Graburn took home a double title, winning both the North American Single Horse Challenge and the Advanced Single Horse Division with a score of 143.19.
In the Advanced Four-In-Hand Horses, Bill Long came in first with a combined score of 179.29 points, while Lisa Stroud moved up from third to claim the prize in the Advanced Four-In-Hand Ponies division. Her final score was 181.24. Tracey Morgan stayed on top all three days in the Advanced Pair Ponies to win with 143.68 points, and in the Advanced Single Pony, Susie Stafford won first, scoring 119.79.
The Laurels was the also the site for the Finals of the Doe Run Carriage Preliminary Driver Championship. The winner of the 2004 series in the Pony Division was Bob Fetters of Kennett Square, PA with a final score of 302.24. In the horse division, Mike Gibbs of Ontario CAN, finished on top with a series score of 344.52.
For a complete list of final results, lot on to www.laurelscde.org