Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) and her Fuego 88 were gleaming in their new harness a gift of Fuego's former owner Ned Bliss. They had refitted the Bennington presentation carriage with brass to match the harness, and entered the electric arena with a forward flowing motion. In spite of a hand canter stride following the halt salute, Fuego settled in, showing clear transitions in the collected and lengthened trot work, and smooth transitions into the canter work.
There is a small point spread of only 3 points from first place to Morgan's sixth with 53.61. The judging was very tough on the first day of competition with no one getting score under 50%, unusual in a World Championships.
With her long time navigator and husband Kenny Cox, the pair have already determined their routes in the compact Marathon course. Morgan competed at Minden two years ago during an extended stay in Europe. She went on to be the only US competitor at the 2015 World Championships for Ponies at Breda, Netherlands.
The event held on the compact and efficient grounds of GEWE, a company which produces sunrooms and deck extensions, is owned by pony driver Christof Weihe. Minden attracts huge crowd especially for marathon day.
Morgan recalls in 2015 she was approaching to the water obstacle when a pregnant woman wheeling a baby carriage walked in front of her headed to the ice cream truck. Morgan did the decent thing and stopped, and was chastised by coach Thornton Zarembowitz for doing so. "Just keep going, they will get out of the way!"
Morgan admitted she lost some momentum and knows this year that won't be the case.
Randy (Miranda) Cadwell (Southern Pines, N.C.) and Cannon’s Majestic Leyla began their world championship appearance on Wednesday with a score of 65.07 in the dressage phase to sit in 36th place. She won the individual Gold in 2007 in Dorthealust, Denmark with a pair.
While it was not the result she was hoping for the combination has some good moments under the tough panel. Layla began the test with a bit of nerves, not standing for the first halt, she showed the quality of her gaits and confirmation as she rose to the occasion.
Cadwell's forte is the marathon, which she won at the World Championships in 2007, catching the international field by surprise. Cadwell just last year survived breast cancer after a double mastectomy and extensive chemotherapy.
She and the 2003 Welsh Pony-cross mare have been consistent performers since their partnership began in 2013. In 2017, Cadwell and the 2003 Welsh Cross mare finished fourth in the CAI2*-P1 divisions at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades and Live Oak International before winning the Advanced Single Pony division at Southern Pines CDE.
The best combined driving athletes and their ponies have come to the 2017 FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies, August 15-20, in hopes of winning a medal. Under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Jennifer Matheson and Coach Thorsten Zarembowicz, Miranda Cadwell, Tracey Morgan, and Katie Whaley will compete as individuals for the U.S.
Competition continues Thursday with the dressage phase of the FEI World Driving Championships for Pair Ponies with Whaley performing her dressage test at 10:05 a.m. EST.
The marathon phase for all divisions takes place Saturday, followed by the cones phase on Sunday.