Goshen, KY. – The leaderboard in the 2015 USEF Single Horse Driving National Championship remained unchanged following an exciting marathon day at the Hermitage Classic CDE. Suzy Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind navigated the tough marathon track designed by Barry Hunter (GBR) to maintain their lead in the championship division with a total score of 126.71.
Stafford (Wilmington, Del.) and her own 2007 Morgan mare put forth a determined effort in the marathon phase in hopes of remaining atop the leaderboard. The pair had some minor bobbles and a knockdown in obstacle six, the checkerboard. Overall, they were quick through the obstacles, winning the marathon phase and having the fastest times of the day at obstacle one, the windmill, and obstacle five, the tee pee. Stafford and PVF Peace of Mind and added 86.07 penalty points to their score to remain in first place.
“The course was technical and challenging and it drove tighter than I expected,” Stafford explained. “My mare was extremely fast and fit, but not mentally with me. She sucked back a little with the festival activities and crowds there. Her quickness and some luck helped carry us through today.”
Leslie Berndl (Newcastle, Calif.) and her own Uminco had some brilliant moments in the marathon phase, and a few issues that proved costly. She and the 2001 KWPN gelding started off well, being the fastest combination through obstacle two, the imposing Harp’s Bridge, but struggled in obstacle four, the snails, and had a knockdown in obstacle five. The duo got back on track and finished strong, having the fastest times in obstacles six, the checkerboard, and seven, whiskey row, to finish the marathon phase in third place. Berndl and Uminco tallied 90.14 penalty points to remain in second place overall with a total score of 140.01.
Following his marathon performance, Sterling Graburn (Paris, Ky.) is 1.39 penalty points behind Berndl with his and Laura Corsentino’s Mannkato. The 2001 Dutch Harness gelding struggled with getting over Harp’s Bridge in obstacle two, then finished out the course boldly with Graburn. The combination had the fastest times at the obstacle three, the water, and obstacle four, the snails. Graburn and Mannkato finished second in the marathon phase with 88.71 penalty points and head into the final phase with a total score of 141.40.
The cones phase of the USEF Single Horse Driving National Championship begins Sunday at 12:15 p.m. ET.