Ocala, FL - Record crowds turned out Saturday to watch the marathon phase of the Live Oak International Combined Driving event. Harmut Kaufmann's course challenged the 78 drivers who tackled the technical and option-filled hazards along the route.
On a marathon score of 80.86, Chester Weber has secured a formidable lead in his bid for a record-breaking ninth USEF National Four-in-Hand Championship title. "My team was fantastic today," explained Weber following his quick round. "This is the first time with this combination. With 'Boy', who I drove at Kentucky, as the right lead horse and 'Nick', who is owned by Jane Forbes Clark, on the left, the team performed just as I had hoped they would" Weber added, "and of course my wheelers 'Para' and 'Splash' are always very good; they are like driving a car ." The National Championship will be awarded on Sunday after completion of the obstacle phase.
After two days, the competition is tight in both the FEI Single Horse class where Leslie Berndl and Sterling Braburn are just one-tenth of a point apart, and the FEI Single Pony class in which Paul Maye and Janelle Marshall are tied for the lead after the dressage and marathon scores are combined. Jennifer Matheson leads the FEI Pair Ponies, and Allison Stroud has a commanding lead in the FEI Pony Teams class. Misdee Wrigley Miller is sitting on a low A + B score of 126.91 in the FEI Pair Horse class.
Show jumping's debut to the Live Oak International was enthusiastically received. The capacity crowd watched 35 start over the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course at the $50,000 Live Oak International Grand Prix. Venezuela's Andres Rodriguez, aboard his Oldenberg gelding Caballi, topped the nine horse jump-off on double clear rounds and a time of 40.8.
Competition resumes Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. with the FEI Obstacle Driving phase which represents the final event before the trophy for the 2012 USEF National Four-in-Hand Championship is awarded.
Spectators at this year's Live Oak International have been supportive and enthusiastic and organizers are thrilled. "You work for months with a team to plan and put it together - and then to step back and watch it happen, I am very pleased. " explains Chester Weber who continues, "We have this vision to produce an event the likes of Aachen here at Live Oak ..... and, it looks like we are going in the right direction."
For complete results and more information, visit http://www.cailiveoak.com/
Follow the 2012 U.S. Driving Team at http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2012Driving/
Photo: Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)