U.S. Team in Third Heading into the Marathon in Lipica

Lexington, KY - The American drivers were on a mission Friday at the FEI World Pony Driving Championships in Lipica, Slovenia. After the completion of the driven dressage, held over two days, the U.S. stands in third place in the Team Championship behind Germany and The Netherlands heading into the marathon. Individual honors are also well within reach, as four of the U.S. drivers currently are in top seven positions within their respective championships.

Friday morning saw the completion of the dressage in the Single Pony Championship and a U.S. assault on the top placings. The Americans currently occupy three of the top nine places in this championship. Miranda Cadwell (Southern Pines, NC) drove her own Kabam to a score of 48.13 for ninth place. Cadwell is looking to secure her first FEI Single Pony World Championship after having won Individual Gold in the World Pony Pairs Driving Championship in 2007, where she was also a member of the Bronze medal-winning U.S. Team.

Suzy Stafford (Wilmington, DE), competing as an individual in Lipica, drove her own Morgan mare Josephine to the fifth spot scoring 45.06. Stafford was Cadwell's teammate in 2007 and won the Individual Bronze medal in the Single Pony Championship in 2009. She will utilize her vast championship experience over the next two days of competition.

Thursday's overnight leader Shelly Temple, who drove LR Ami B-Line to a 44.67, was relegated to third place in the Single Pony Championship after the completion of the dressage. Temple (Windsor, SC) is well within striking distance only 3.2 points behind the leader Peter Koux of Denmark. The Netherland's Yvonne De Ruyter stands second with a score of 44.03.

Lisa Stroud and Laurie Astegiano were the final drivers to compete for the U.S. on Friday in the Pony Team Championship. Stroud (West Grove, PA) who is competing in her fifth World Championships drove her appealing team to a score of 51.2 for equal seventh place.  Stroud was pleased her test and her score of 51.2 this afternoon after having averaged 52 in recent competitions. She was also thrilled with the way her pony team continued to work throughout the test.

"I was really pleased. This was one of the ponies best tests they've had. It seems in all the tests they got flat in the second half, but my ponies were able to maintain their sparkle to the end." Stroud is also enjoying the comradery the U.S. is showing, "There is a huge team spirit between the competitors, and the whole team which has been really great."

Astegiano (Roussac, France) came to Lipica after collecting CAIP victories at Vejer de la Frontera and Pau. She utilized her vast experience to drive her team to a score of 56.7 to stand in 12th after the first phase. Tobias Bucker of Germany leads these Championships after scoring 38.53, The Netherlands' Jan De Boer is second on 40.7 and in third is Germany's Daniel Schneiders with a 42.5.

Dressage for the Pair Pony Championship was completed Thursday. U.S. team members Jennifer Matheson and Wendy O'Brien are in third and 21st respectively in this championship.

Follow the U.S. Driving Team on the event website: http://www.lipica2011.si/en/ and check http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2011DrivingWorldChampionships/ for photos, reports, and all the information about the U.S. drivers throughout the week.

Photos: Shelly Temple is currently in third place. Photo by Marie de Ronde.   Lisa Stroud drives to seventh place. Photo by Marie de Ronde.