Ocala, Fla. - Live Oak International provided a picturesque backdrop for an exhilarating marathon day for the two USEF Advanced Combined Driving National Championships. Chester Weber and Steve Wilson positioned themselves as leaders of the Advanced Four-in-Hand and the Advanced Pairs National Championships, respectively.
Weber (Ocala, Fla.) had a dominating performance across all seven hazards with his team of Amadeus, his 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Hendrik, his 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; First Edition, his 10-year-old KWPN gelding; and Gouveneur, his eight-year-old KWPN gelding. The FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) Tryon 2018 individual silver and team gold medalist carries 164.57 points into the final cones phase as he aims for a record 16th USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship title.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the horses. The team of horses did a fantastic job and really tried their hearts out. I drove a new combination in the lead, First Edition, who I had all last season, together with a horse named Gouveneur," Weber said. "Gouveneur was a little shocked by the crowd, but he grew as the course went and got better and better, so that was really nice."
Misdee Wrigley-Miller (Paris, Ky.) skillfully piloted her team of geldings, Bolino D, her 13-year-old KWPN; Calipso 86, her 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood; Daan 8, her 14-year-old KNHS; and Saco, her 20-year-old KWPN to second place in the USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship. Despite a last minute change to her team, she made quick work of the track to finish with 186.14 points.
"I did not have my same marathon team that I had at WEG. Part of it was design and part of it definitely was not. My normal right-wheeler is no longer with me, so I had to turn to my old man, who is 20-years-old. I said Saco, 'Sorry old man. You're up again.' And he just absolutely delivered for me today," she said.
Allison Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) kept hold of third place in the USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined DrivingNational Championship with Willow Star, LLC’s Dutch Warmblood gelding team of 14-year-old Anesco 4, ten-year-old Enzo, eight-year-old George W, and 18-year-old Ulco on a two-phase score of 204.91.
"I enjoyed all the hazards; I always do here. This is a combination I haven't driven a lot, and they really rose to the challenge. I was really pleased with them. I had a great day," Stroud said.
Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) took over the lead of the USEF Advanced Pairs Combined Driving National Championship after a brilliant performance. A new pair for Wilson, Favory Fantom, his 12-year-old Lippizaner gelding, and Favory Fáraó, his 17-year-old Lippizaner gelding, finished the marathon phase with a score of 183.71.
"I always love competing here at Live Oak. It's the most challenging course in America," he said. "This was the first time I had driven this pair together. Initially they didn't look like they'd make a great pair, but they worked really well together. They worked hard for me, and I was really pleased with the results."
Drivers take on the nail-biting cones finale Sunday, March 10.
USEF Network will stream the last phase of the driving competition. Not a US Equestrian member yet? Use promo code LIVEOAK19 for access. Visit www.usefnetwork.org to watch.