Lexington, KY - The U.S. Driving Team will be aiming for a place on the podium this week in Reisenbeck, Germany as they square-off with the best in the game at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand World Driving Championships. A total of 50 competitors from 19 Nations will attempt to stake their claim on Team and Individual world titles, August 16-19, 2012. The championships are off to a strong start for the U.S. as all 15 horses were accepted without incident during Tuesday's First Horse Inspection.
Two years ago at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games the U.S. stormed to a Team Silver medal on home-turf in Lexington, KY, eight years after claiming Team Silver in WEG 2010 Jerez, Spain. Two-thirds of those impressive teams return as Jimmy Fairclough and Chester Weber look to go one better in 2012 and unseat the Dutch as World Champions. The third member of the 2002 and 2010 WEG teams, Tucker Johnson retired following claiming Team and Individual honors at the 2010 Games. Joe Yoder fills Johnson's spot in Reisenbeck showcasing the emerging talent the U.S. has produced in the past few years.
Fairclough is one of the most longstanding members of the U.S. Driving Team having represented his country at Pairs as well as Four-in-Hand World Championships. He has claimed the National Four-in-Hand title four times (1982, 1994, 2001 and 2011) as well claiming Reserve honors nine times and will be aiming for his first World Championship Individual medal in Germany. The Newtown, NJ native will drive his own Levin as well as his son James Fairclough's Charlie Brown, Coletto and Kavango von Falkenstein and Patsy Wooten's Valentino.
In 2008, Weber (Ocala, FL) claimed the Individual Silver medal at the FEI Four-in-Hand World Driving Championships in Beesd, The Netherlands. In 2012 the eight-time USEF National Champion eyes claiming Team and Individual medals for the first time at the same Championship. Well known for his proficiency in the first phase, Weber hopes to jump-out to an early lead with his own Boy W, Horus du Bois and Para. His team is completed by Jane Clark's Splash and Uniek.
Yoder makes his first appearance at a Four-in-Hand World Championship but is no stranger to the championship stage having represented the U.S. at the 2011 FEI World Pair Driving Championship. The 32-year-old has been preparing diligently for the 2012 championships basing himself in Zwartewaal, The Netherlands. He will drive the de Ronde's Caletta, Celena 6, Majoor and Ruby as well as Misdee Wrigley Miller's Sarasko.
U.S. Chef d' Equipe Ed Young believes the U.S. is poised for a competitive showing but knows it is essential they produce strong results in the first phase. "I'm very optimistic; everyone has looked good in the training sessions. Chester is at the top of his game and hopefully he'll be on top after the dressage. All the other horses look great as well. I would like to end up on top after the dressage."
Competition officially gets underway Thursday with the first of two days of driven dressage. On Saturday the exciting marathon phase will be held, with Team and Individual World Champions being crowned Sunday at the conclusion of the cones phase.
For orders of go and results click here.
Photo: Jimmy Fairclough and Chester Weber aim to stand on the Podium with Joe Yoder in 2012. (Shannon Brinkman Photo)