On the final day of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, the FEI World Team and Individual for Four-in-Hands Driving Championship started the cones phase bright and early at La Prairie Racecourse to determine the medalists on Sunday. Clean rounds were hard to come by over Richard Nicoll’s 20-obstacle cones course, with only nine of the 43 drivers adding no penalties to their scores following the marathon phase. Chester Weber had an excellent final day of competition, driving his team to a faultless round and clinching the Individual Silver medal. He and teammates Lisa Stroud and Misdee Wrigley Miller performed well in the Team Championship, finishing in fourth place on a score of 298.48.
Weber (Ocala, Fla.) drove a spectacular cones round with his and Jane Clark’s team of KWPN geldings, securing his third Individual Silver medal at an FEI World Championship (2008, 2012, 2014). Never looking in doubt of adding any penalties to his score, he finished on a score of 128.60. In the cones phase, Weber finished seventh with his clear round and a time of 188.72 seconds.
“I was really pleased; I couldn’t ask for more,” Weber shared. “I was able to put the pressure on on the last day, and that is what sport is all about. I couldn’t be more pleased with my horses, and my entire team. The suppliers, sponsors, everyone did a fantastic job, and I am just proud to be a part of it.”
Though he was very close to winning an Individual Gold medal, Weber was satisfied with the way he and his team performed, saying, “Some people call that the bridesmaid’s award, but I am really pleased with it. I am so pleased with the horses, and I wouldn’t trade them for any other group of horses here. I honestly think I have one of the best cones teams in the world. I will see you again in two years.”
Allison Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) didn’t quite have the day she was hoping for on Sunday, incurring 11.85 penalties in the cones phase. She and her team of Dutch Warmblood geldings, owned by Willow Star LLC and Koos de Ronde, knocked two balls early in the course and another at 13B, also receiving 2.85 time penalties. At the end of the day, she finished in 39th place in the cones phase and 28th place overall with a total score of 175.53.
“I’m a little disappointed. Cones is a hard phase for me; I have been spending so much time training in the first two [phases]. It’s hard to get all three phases in such a short time,” Stroud said since she has only been driving Four-in-Hand Horses since January. “It is difficult for me to get the rhythm for that.”
Though she didn’t have the best performance, Stroud was very pleased with her horses, saying, “I love them, so anything they do is always good. They were wonderful.”
Misdee Wrigley Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) had a fantastic end to her FEI World Equestrian Games debut with her own team of Dutch Warmblood geldings. She tapped the ball off the cone at obstacle 9 and then had a bit too much break coming through the corner to obstacle 19 as she raced to the finish. Adding a handful of time to her penalties at the obstacles, she finished the cone phase in 29th place with 6.20 penalties. Overall, Wrigley Miller finished on a score of 194.58 for 37th place individually.
“The horses were really good. I’m so proud of my horses because, except for my left leader who is my good campaigner that I just bought a month ago, they are all so young,” Wrigley Miller said of her lineup of horses. “For the two leaders, this is the first time they have been in a competition together, so I think we have a really bright future as a team. I’m so thrilled.”
Wrigley Miller came in ready for the task set forth by the demanding track. She explained her plan, saying, “Find the line. The line was just crucial. There were no big tricks or anything. It was just looking ahead, finding the line, and finding that nice tempo. You can just feel it when you have the right speed. I found the lines, just a little too much brake.”
With an Individual Silver medal and a great team performance, the U.S. Driving Team had a notable performance at the 2014 Games, showing much promise for future World Championships.
“First of all, I’m thrilled with the Team. As most everybody knows, for our two women on the team, this is their first season with the Four-in-Hands,” Chef d’Equipe Ed Young said. “I couldn’t be happier. With the composition of the team, I am thrilled with their performance, and I’m thrilled for Chester and the Silver [medal].”
In the FEI World Team for Four-in-Hands Driving Championship, the Gold medal went to The Netherlands with a score of 263.19. Germany claimed the Team Silver medal on a score of 283.56 and Hungary received the Bronze medal with a score of 287.29. Boyd Exell of Australia was named the World Champion ending with an overall score of 125.83, while Theo Timmerman of The Netherlands earned the Individual Bronze medal on a score of 133.88.