London, England- It was a royal redux at England's Royal Windsor CAI3* as HRH Queen Elizabeth again congratulated Chester Weber, of Ocala, Florida, on his second consecutive victory in the four-in-hand division. The 11-time USEF National Champion and three-time World Equestrian Games Silver medalist returned to the 2015 Royal Windsor Horse Show to defend the title he won there last May.
Fresh off the Live Oak International CDE win in March in the US, Team Weber, comprised of the horses owned by Chester Weber and Jane Forbes Clark, headed to Europe and to the top of the leader boards at the Royal Windsor.
But this year’s competition was no repeat of last year's handy finish for Team Weber. Living up to his moniker, 'Mr. Dressage,' Weber won the opening dressage phase with a score of 36.22, but unlike the year prior, this past week’s competition saw Team Weber’s strongest competitors very close on the scoreboard, with Boyd Exell just fractions of a point behind with a score of 36.57. With just a smidge of a lead, Team Weber had their work ahead of them.
“We had to fight hard for this one. We were in a tight race with Boyd after dressage, and had a costly knockdown in marathon,” Weber said about the tense second phase, which saw Team Weber drop to third position, while a tightly executed 95.64 effort by Exell moved him into the top spot after Saturday’s Marathon. But not for long— Team Weber was now more “driven” than ever.
“I couldn't let myself dwell on that. I knew we had to focus on bringing our A game into Cones,” Weber said. “And it worked. The horses were amazing. They really stepped up. Everything I asked them for, they gave me.”
Weber's win at last year's Royal Windsor had marked a coming full circle 18 years in the making since he competed in the pair driving in its stadium in 1996. So what did accepting a second round of royal congratulations feel like? “It was very, very special. And well earned. Not just for me, but for the entire team behind these horses,” said Weber.
As for Team Weber's own international combined driving calendar, their ambitions are set on the CAI3*-H4 World Cup Qualifier, June 19-21, in Lahden, Germany. The team will head next to compete at Aachen where they enjoyed a record-breaking victory last year. “Aachen is under a different, indoor driving and jumping format this year,” Weber explained, “So it won’t have as much impact on our plans.”
Follow Team Weber on their 2015 European campaign at http://www.chesterweber.com and via Facebook.