Lexington, Ky. - A warm and sunny afternoon at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., set the stage for the first phase of competition in the final USEF National Combined Driving Championships of 2014. Drivers entered the dressage arena at the Kentucky Classic CDE in order to take their first steps toward a National Title.
USEF National Pairs Championship
Misdee Wrigley Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) sits atop the leaderboard in the 2014 USEF National Pairs Championship with a score of 44.26. She drove her pair of horses to a lovely test, with solid reins in one hand work, great halts, and quality extended trot work. Her effort was all the more impressive considering she switched back to pairs after driving Four-in-Hand Horses less than a month ago at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
"Overall, I was really, really pleased with it," Wrigley Miller said of her dressage performance on Thursday. "When I got about two-thirds through I thought, 'This is fun! I'm having fun with this,' so I'm pleased with it. A couple bobbles that I would like to have back but overall I'm really happy with it."
Sitting in second place on a score of 50.65 is Steve Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) with his pair of Lipizzaner geldings. Having a great year in 2014, Wilson had a smooth test with nice 10m and 15m deviations and strong trot work.
Max Montoya (Hebron, Ky.) moved up to the Advanced level less than a month ago but put forth a workmanlike test to garner a score of 54.19. He guided his team of Georgian Grande geldings through a consistent test with good trot work and relaxed walk tours.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Championships - Single Pony
Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) is off to a strong start in the Single Pony division of the 2014 USEF National Combined Driving Pony Championships with her own Fuego 88. She and the 13-year-old German Riding Pony had an excellent test, setting the bar high for the rest of the field by scoring 44.05. Morgan, the 2013 National Champion, drove a fluid test, getting obedient transitions and great canter work from Fuego 88.
"I'm really pleased with it," Morgan said of her test. "It was a very solid test and we did really well. I'm tickled and we'll see how it comes out."
Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.) and Barbara Sims (Prescott, Ariz.) are currently tied in second place with a score of 49.28. Maye had a steady test with Markus, Harmony Sporthorses' 13-year-old American Sport Pony stallion, demonstrating nice trot work. Sims drove her own Night Flyer, a 14-year-old Welsh Section C gelding, to a very nice test, ending with a powerful extended trot into her final halt and salute.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Championships - Pair Pony
Amy Cross (Aiken, S.C.) had a polished test to score 42.13 and go into first place with Wendy O'Brien's Welsh geldings in the in the Pair Pony division of the 2014 USEF National Combined Driving Pony Championships. She drove an accurate test with great trot work and steady one-handed movements.
"It was good; it was better than Hermitage [Classic CDE]," Cross explained. "It was just a lot of work. It was only my third test with these guys. I'm very grateful for Wendy O'Brien for allowing me to drive them."
Jennifer Matheson (Aiken, S.C.) laid down a pleasant test with Katrina Becker's pony pair to score 43.84 and end up in second place. With the pair of ponies often moving in unison, Matheson impressed the judges very nice extended trot movements, solid halts, and a good rein back.
The marathon phase begins at 9:30am ET on Saturday. The cones phase will close out the championship competition on Sunday at 9:30 am.
For more information on the Kentucky Classic CDE, click here.