Despite the rainy day quite a crowd was still on hand to see Jimmy Fairclough gallop Jane Clark's Four-in-hand team through a steady marathon to win this phase of the Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event. The water hazard was a particular favorite of the crowd and Fairclough didn’t disappoint as his horses went straight into the water and whipped powerfully through all the gates and then galloped out looking like they were still fresh even though the water hazard was near the end of the course with only the “Autobahn” hazard left to complete.
The Autobahn hazard was long and tight with several turns around a truck and a SUV perched atop eleveated grass banks in the middle of the hazard which were towering above the horse’s heads. Some of the horses were not keen on taking a test drive!
The crowd easily made their way to this last hazard as this course at Little Everglades is exceptionally spectator friendly. Standing in front of the last hazard these CDE fans could see Fairclough coming up through the trees and begin his run to the hazard. This hazard was the bane of many of the teams that had hung up a carriage wheel trying to negotiate the tight turns. But Fairclough had a blistering run through this challenging hazard and ended up with the best time of all the FEI Four-in-Hand Teams for the Autobahn Hazard and ending the day with winning the Marathon phase.
This win was especially sweet as Fairclough had some bad luck in the dressage arena on Thursday. A shadow across the entrance of the dressage arena had many of the teams getting quite tense on the entry and Fairclough horses were no exception. His leaders wanted to show their athleticism by jumping the shadow. This unfortunate display dislodged one of the leader’s traces and necessitated putting a groom down which tacked on penalty points. This unfortunately left Fairclough in eleventh place after Dressage. But the win in Marathon has Fairclough now standing in fourth place. While it will be hard to catch Germany’s Michael Freund who is currently in the lead, a good cones run on Sunday will be Fairclough’s chance to move up in the standings.
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