Bronze Medal for Team USA's Suzy Stafford

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fourth Place for Team USA at the FEI World Pony Driving Championships
Lexington, KY—Suzy Stafford has won the Individual Bronze medal in the Single Pony class at the FEI World Combined Pony Driving Championships in Greven-Bockholt, Germany. Team USA finished fourth in the nations competition, which was won by host nation Germany. Stafford was in second position after the dressage and the marathon, but the very difficult cones course kept her from keeping the Silver medal. Stafford passed the finish line just a fraction too late to make the time allowed, but knocked two balls down which dropped her to the fourth place at first. But Dutch driver Arjo van Kekem who was leading the standings, left the arena with no more than 12 penalty points, which brought the American back onto the podium.
Photo credit: Rinaldo de Craen

Dutch individual competitor Melanie Becker won the Gold at her first World Championship ever; the Silver medal went to Germany’s Franz-Josef Lehmkuhl. Stafford was a little disappointed with her Bronze medal.

“I was selected to compete at the 2005 World Championships with Courage to Lead, but she was injured at the time, and I used a different pony,” she said. “I won the Gold medal, which was fantastic, and I had hoped to win the Gold medal again this year with Courage to Lead. She is very consistent in all three phases of the combined competition and lovely to drive.”

Beverley Lesher, the owner of Courage to Lead, and Suzy’s groom in dressage and cones, might start breeding with the 14-year-old Morgan mare, so Stafford is exploring her possibilities for the future. “I would love to keep competing with Courage to Lead, but if that is no longer possible, I will consider moving on to driving a pair of small horses,” she said. “But nothing is certain yet, I like to keep all my options open”

After yesterday’s elimination in the marathon, team member Sara Schmitt did not have her best day today and finished 30th in the obstacle driving competition. Individual driver Sherri Dolan pulled out before the cones because her pony, Smoke, had a minor injury after the marathon.

Tracey Morgan drove a very good cones course with her Dartmoor mares, Farnley Coquette and Lizwell Gambling Queen. Morgan was one of the very few pair drivers that made the time allowed and with only one knock down; she climbed five positions in the Individual standings in which she came fifth.

Miranda Cadwell and Individual competitor Kathleen Whaley both had knockdowns and took the 19th and 20th place in the overall individual results.

The Pairs class resulted in a German podium with Daniel Schneiders winning the Gold, Stephan Koch on Silver and Steffen Abicht on Bronze.

In the Four-in-Hand class, the time allowed was not as tight as in the other classes, which resulted in nine double-clear rounds. Laurie Astegiano put down the Team result by finishing with 7.83 penalty points, just ahead of Allison Stroud, who was on time but had several knock downs. After two ninth placings in dressage and marathon, Astegiano ended on the 11th place in the final standings, Stroud came 16th.

German drivers Tobias Bücker and Steffen Brauchle won the Gold and Silver medals. Tinne Bax from Belgium took the Bronze medal.

“I am very pleased with the results of Suzy Stafford and Tracey Morgan,”said chef d’equipe Chester Weber. “We will go home and get some work done to be able to be back in the Top Ten again in two years. Our focus will be mainly on marathon and cones. We have a few young pony drivers who are coming along so we will hopefully be able to create new talent and have an even wider choice for the future.”