Category Archives: Driving

The Best Ever International Field Heads to Royal Windsor Horse Show

Royal Windsor Horse Show will welcome the world’s best riders to the private grounds of Windsor Castle from 10-14 May 2017. With international competitions taking place across four equestrian disciplines, including the newly upgraded CSI5* Show Jumping and CDI4* Dressage, the calibre of entries has never been better and includes seven of the World’s top 20 Show Jumpers.

International CSI5* Show Jumping

Heading the field in the CSI5* Show Jumping is World No. 2 Kent Farrington (USA), who will be looking to reclaim his title in the Rolex Grand Prix, the pinnacle event of the Show, with his consistent chestnut gelding, Creedance. Taking place on Sunday 14 May, with an increased prize fund of £258,000, Kent will face stiff competition for the coveted Rolex Grand Prix trophy, including fellow FEI top 10 ranked riders, Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Britain’s Scott Brash.

Scott Brash heads to Windsor with a top string of horses, including in-form mare Ursula XII and the up-and-coming eight-year-old gelding, Hello Mr President. He will be joined by his Olympic gold medal winning teammate Ben Maher (GBR), and home favourites John and Michael Whitaker. Fresh from victory in the Grand Prix of Antwerp, Michael will have a strong hand at Windsor, including Antwerp winner JB’s Hot Stuff, Viking, and the striking grey stallion Cassionato.

Also looking to claim part of the unprecedented total prize fund of £520,000 will be the notoriously speedy Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), twice a winner at Olympia, The London International Horse Show, World No. 14 Bertram Allen (IRL), and Nicola Philippaerts (BEL), recent winner of the Grand Prix at the FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha.

The female line-up is particularly strong, headed by Laura Kraut (USA) and Tiffany Foster (CAN), both of whom are ranked amongst the top 20 riders in the world. Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and Laura Renwick (GBR) will be leading the way for the home nation, with Jessica Springsteen (USA) and the always competitive Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), making up a truly international field.

International CDI4* Dressage

Adding to the international prestige of the Show, the CDI4* Dressage has been upgraded from its previous CDI3* status in 2015, taking centre stage on the evenings of Thursday 11 and Friday 12 May. In 2015, Britain’s Carl Hester was victorious aboard his Rio Olympic companion Nip Tuck. Carl is returning in 2017, this time with new ride, Barolo, a British-bred Hanoverian, which has to-date been produced by Charlotte Dujardin, with the pair winning the 2015 National Championships and moving up to international level in 2016.

Four-time British Olympian, Richard Davison (GBR) will be looking to steal Carl’s crown with homebred gelding Bubblingh, out of his former international ride Ballaseyr Royale, as will compatriot Lara Butler (GBR) who will be contesting her first international of the year with Rubin Al Asad, having set a personal best Grand Prix score in Hagen last year.

Strengthening the home team will be Gloucestershire based Hayley Watson-Greaves (GBR) with Rubins Nite and former British team member Gareth Hughes aboard Don Carissimo, winners of the Grand Prix in Roosendaal in 2016.

Returning to Royal Windsor Horse Show for the first time since 2014 is the flamboyant Italian, Silvia Rizzo, known for her style and flair, as well as Roland Tong (IRE) riding Rybrook Ambience, the reserve partnership for the Irish team at the 2016 Olympic Games.

New Zealand’s leading combination, Wendi Williamson and Dejavu MH, winners of the FEI World Cup™ Pacific League last year, will be looking to put up a strong challenge, as will young rider Caroline Chew (SGP), silver medal winner at the South East Asian Games.

International CAIO4*/CAI3* Driving

With drivers from 14 nations participating, the Land Rover CAIO4* International Driving Grand Prix promises to bring spectacular competition to Windsor Home Park from Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 May. Among the 25 competitors in the horse fours is Australia’s Boyd Exell, reigning World Champion and seven-time winner at Royal Windsor, as well as seven-time FEI World Cup™ Champion, for which this competition is a Qualifier.

Boyd will be closely challenged by all three members of the Netherlands’ World Championship gold medal winning team, Ijsbrand Chardon, Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman, who collectively have been unbeaten at a World Championship since 2008.

Horse pairs makes a welcome return to Royal Windsor Horse Show with a CAI3* competition. 24 competitors from 12 countries will do battle with a three-strong GB contingent, including James Broome, the current Advanced Horse Pairs GB National Champion and son of legendary Show Jumping personality, David Broome.

Previous World Champion gold and silver medallists, Harrie Verstappen (NED) and Beat Schenk (SUI) respectively, are also competing, while USA husband-and-wife team, Kathrin and Scott Dancer, each make a Royal Windsor debut.

Pony fours fields a strong GB team, including National Champion, Sara Howe. They will find themselves up against stiff opposition from the ever-improving Tinne Bax (BEL), as well as Jan de Boer (NED) and his Welsh ponies, who claimed his sixth Royal Windsor win here last year.

International CEI2* Endurance

On Friday 12 May, Royal Windsor Endurance will come to Windsor Great Park, with 120 horses taking part and riders representing 14 nations. Joining the 120km CEI2* are two new competitions for 2017, a CEI1* 80km and a National 40km Graded Endurance Ride.

Tickets to watch this year’s action can be purchased at www.rwhs.co.uk or by telephoning the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally. Local residents can purchase tickets by contacting Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743589.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: + 44 (0)203 176 0355

Chester Weber Cinches 14th USEF Four-in-Hand National Championship

Photo courtesy of Picsofyou.com.

Ocala, FL (March 15, 2017) – Ocala’s native combined driver Chester Weber reigned victorious this weekend, navigating his KWPN team to his 14th USEF Combined Driving Four-in-Hand National Championship on Sunday, March 12, at the 26th annual Live Oak International. After a show-stopping performance in the dressage phase with an impressive 36.51 score, Weber forged ahead to win the marathon phase with a 112.96. Team Weber then rounded out the week with the cones phase to finish with a final score of 154.70.

Weber was quick to credit his horses for the victory and thank his sponsors, and emphasized how pleased he is with the newest members of his and Jane Clark’s hand-picked KWPN driving team. “Bastiaan and First Edition ‘Edison’ are fairly new additions to the team and they have clearly proved their merit. This is the first time we have had this group out together in competition. Finding that balance with utilizing the developing horses for competition and making sure we are as prepared as possible can be tricky, but I am pleased with the team’s performance,” Weber said.

“I was happy with the dressage score in the mid-thirties and the consistency in my team’s dressage scores all season,” Weber added. “Last year, we did not have the consistency with the low to mid-thirty scores in dressage that the team is demonstrating this year. We are pleased to have hit our stride with the new horses.”

As Co-President of the Live Oak International competition, Weber commented on the challenges of juggling his responsibilities as a competitor with his responsibilities as the ringmaster of the largest combined driving and show jumping event in the United States. The competition, set amidst the picturesque rolling hills of the Weber family’s country estate in Ocala, was once again an exciting event for top equestrians and spectators alike. This year’s legendary competitor’s party was circus-themed, raising the bar yet again for next year’s Live Oak International weekend.

Be sure to check out the pictures from the competition and Saturday’s circus extravaganza on www.Facebook.com/LiveOakInternational. Follow Team Weber’s tournament schedule on www.ChesterWeber.com as he prepares to take on competition in Europe this summer. Learn all about Weber’s latest results, favorite equestrian products, and his star four-in-hand team on his official social media sites on Facebook and Instagram @ChesterWeber.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Morgan, Whaley, Wilson, and Weber Claim USEF Combined Driving National Championship Titles

Tracey Morgan and Fuego 88 (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – Four USEF Combined Driving National Championships came to a close at Live Oak International on Sunday with the cones phase determining the national titles. Tracey Morgan, Katie Whaley, Steve Wilson, and Chester Weber, the leaders following Saturday’s marathon phase, held on to their leads to claim top honors in respective divisions.

USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) and Fuego 88 won all three phases to win the USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship. The duo had an excellent dressage test with great one-handed movements and quality canter work to win the dressage phase with a score of 48.54. Morgan and her own 2011 German Riding Pony gelding blazed around the marathon course, collecting 89.59 penalties and having the fastest times at obstacles two and five for the division. They had a winning cones performance, adding only a 0.43 time penalty to their overall score of 138.56.

“The course was very smooth; it had some interesting turns to it but it had flow to it. You could carry your speed but you had to be very careful in your angles and know where you wanted to go because it was hidden behind some very large jumps,” Morgan said of the ring which also contained show jumping fences for the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier presented by Golden Ocala Golf Equestrian Club happening later in the day. “I thought it was a really enjoyable cones course.”

Rebecca Gutierrez (Windsor, S.C.) and Naria BW6 had a solid dressage test to score 57.39 to sit in third place after the first day of competition. They followed that up with an equally good marathon performance to finish second in the phase, tallying 90.50 penalties and having the fastest time at obstacle six. Gutierrez and Richard Olson’s 2003 Haflinger mare had one ball down in the cones phase at cone seven for three course penalties and a 0.10 time penalty to finish third in the phase and clinch the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 150.99.

Barbara Chapman (Metamora, Mich.) and Darlene Daly’s Maduro performed an obedient dressage test with good diagonal yields and deviations to score 56.54 to put them in second place on Thursday. They were third in the marathon phase with 95.36 penalties and had the fastest time at obstacle three. Chapman and the 2008 North American Sportpony gelding had a solid cones round with an unlucky ball down at cone 20 and 2.79 time penalties. They held on to finish in third place with an overall score of 157.69.

USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Whaley (Paris, Ky.) led from start to finish to claim her second consecutive USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship title. She had a great dressage test with her own and Barbara Sims’ Welsh geldings, highlighted by wonderful extended trot work, to win the phase with a score of 49.79. Whaley and her ponies had a winning marathon performance, collecting 91.04 penalties and having the fastest times in six of the seven obstacles. She had a fast, double-clear round to win the cones phase to clinch top honors with an overall score of 140.83.

“I loved the cones course. I thought it asked some pretty good questions,” Whaley said. “You had to get some speed, then you had to bring them back and turn well. You had to absolutely know where you were; [cone] 13 for a second vanished, but I really enjoyed it I thought [course designer Gabor Finta] did an excellent job.”

Jennifer Matheson (Aiken, S.C.) and Katrina Becker and Carina Crawford’s mixed pair had a respectable dressage test to finish third in the phase with a score of 63.06. They had some bobbles in the marathon phase, garnering 180.93 penalties, but had the fastest time at obstacle six. Matheson and her ponies finished strong, going double-clear in the cones phase to finish second in the phase and earn the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 166.49.

Mary Phelps (Columbia, Ky.) had a smooth dressage test with her own American Shetland Pony pair to finish second in the phase with a score of 62.65. They were bold out on the marathon course, finishing second in the phase with 96.36 penalties. Phelps had four balls down with her ponies in the cones phase for 12 course penalties, finishing third in both the cones phase and the overall standings with a score of 171.01.

USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) and his own mixed KWPN and Lipizzaner pair had a smooth dressage test to finish second in the phase with a score of 55.04. They had a stellar marathon performance to win the phase, tallying 103.62 penalties and having the fastest times in six of the seven obstacles. Wilson and his pair finished second in the cones phase with six course penalties for two balls down and 2.79 time penalties, allowing them to earn their third consecutive USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship with an overall score of 167.33.

“Number 10 came up faster than I was planning, and I had to take a little bit of a wider turn than I wanted to, so I lost some time there,” Wilson said. “[The course] was well-designed and well-measured, and my horses had a nice stride so I did not have to worry about making up time; they were just comfortable on course, and I enjoyed it very much.”

Josh Rector (Dyke, Va.) and his, Jessica Buchanan, and Rainier Tanglao’s mixed pair had a workmanlike dressage test to score 70.26, finishing third in the phase. They finished second in the marathon with 106.00 and had the fastest time in obstacle three. Rector and his pair went double-clear in the cones phase to win the phase and earn Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 176.26.

James Miller (Paris, Ky.) and wife Misdee Wrigley Miller’s Dutch Warmblood geldings had a lovely dressage test in his national championship debut, earning a score of 48.90 to win the phase. They had a respectable marathon performance, finishing third in the phase with 120.52 penalties. Miller and his pair had three balls down and 1.34 time penalties to finish third in the cones phase and third in the overall standings with a score of 182.76.

USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending-champion Weber (Ocala, Fla.) demonstrated great style with his team, which contained new horses, to claim his 14th USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship. He had an excellent dressage test with his, Jane Clark, and Fritz Grupe’s Dutch Warmblood geldings. They showed great harmony and performed lovely movements to score 36.51 to win the phase. They won the marathon phase with 112.96 penalties and had the fastest times in all of the obstacles. Weber and his team had one ball down at cone 18 and 2.23 time penalties to finish second in the cones phase with an overall score of 154.70.

Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

“Today wasn’t my best day in the cones, but I was really pleased with the horses. This is the first time we have had this group together out [in competition]. There were jumps in the ring and a lot of spooky stuff that is sometimes tough with lead horses, but we learned some stuff and some questions were asked,” Weber said. “In general, I am really pleased. Our goal is Tryon [for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games] and I think we are on pace for having a successful go there.”

Misdee Wrigley Miller (Paris, Ky.) had strong performances throughout the competition on her way to earning the Reserve Champion title. She had a beautiful dressage test with her own Dutch Warmblood geldings to finish second in the phase with a score of 41.47. On marathon day, Wrigley Miller had a bobble at obstacle six, but finished strongly with 134.88 penalties to finish second once again. She and her team had two balls down at the B and D elements of cone six and 5.24 time penalties to finish third in the phase. They held on to earn the Reserve Champion title with an overall score of 187.59.

Allison Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) and Willow Star LLC’s Dutch Warmblood geldings had a great dressage test to score 51.79. They had some trouble in obstacle six and totaled 146.04 penalties in the marathon phase. Stroud and her team ended the competition on a high note by winning the cones phase with only 3.81 time penalties and finishing with an overall score of 201.64.

By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department

Live Oak International Set to Host Four USEF Combined Driving National Championships

Leslie Berndl and Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle (Picsofyou.com)

Ocala, Fla. – Four combined driving national championship titles are up for grabs at Live Oak International, March 8-12. Run in conjunction with the FEI divisions, the USEF Combined Driving National Championships for single pony, pair pony, pair horse, and four-in-hand horse will be determined at the prestigious Live Oak Plantation. Leslie Berndl, Katie Whaley, Steve Wilson, and Chester Weber are the defending champions in their respective divisions and aim to give winning performances. With the FEI World Driving Championships for Pairs and Ponies taking place this summer, pair horse and pony competitors also hope to impress selectors in one of the final selection trials in North America.

USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

A field of nine seasoned competitors will converge in the hotly contested USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship. Berndl (Newcastle, Calif.) brings Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle with hopes of adding another title to their resume. She and “Zoobie”, Teressa Kandianis’ 2004 Norwegian Fjord Horse mare, closed out a successful 2016 season by winning the USEF Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship at the Kentucky Classic CDE. They are set to kick off another solid season, but Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) and Fuego 88 will provide tough competition. She and her own 2011 German Riding Pony gelding are world champion competitors and were last year’s reserve champions.

USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

The 2016 champion, Katie Whaley (Paris, Ky.), will lead a small but mighty field of three competing for the USEF Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship. She and her own and Barbara Sims’ Welsh geldings had a commanding performance at Kentucky Classic CDE last fall to claim the national title, and they have maintained their top form this year, winning the CAI2*-P2 division at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades. Jennifer Matheson (Aiken, S.C.) and Mary Phelps (Columbia, Ky.) will be hot on Whaley’s heels with their talented ponies.

USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

A field of three will also contest the USEF Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Defending champion Steve Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) and his own mixed KWPN and Lipizzaner pair aim to win their third consecutive national title. They began the 2017 season with a win at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades, and hope to maintain their momentum at Live Oak International. Joining Wilson are Josh Rector (Dyke, Va.), a four-in-hand driver shifting focus to the pair horse division in 2017, and James Miller (Sarasota, Fla.), a promising driver in his first year of competing in combined driving.

Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Among a field of four seasoned drivers, Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) aims to win his 14th title in the USEF Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championship in front of his hometown crowd. He and his and Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood geldings won all of their U.S. competitions and finished in the top five in their European competitions in 2016. They put in a winning performance at the Palm Tree CDE at Little Everglades to start 2017. Weber will face stiff competition from Allison Stroud (West Grove, Pa.) and Misdee Wrigley Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.), his 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games teammates, and Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.), an experienced driver who has found success after changing his focus to the four-in-hand horse division less than a year ago.

Watch the live stream of all classes taking place in the Competition Arena at Live Oak International beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.

By Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department

Live Oak International: World-Class Driving, a World Cup Qualifier, and More

Live Oak International, which takes place from March 9-12 in Ocala, Fla., is unique. It’s the nation’s largest combined driving and show jumping competition, bringing these two disciplines together at a world-class level.

This year, Live Oak International will draw about 275 horses from 26 countries, as well as more than 300 volunteers and about 30 competition officials, according to Live Oak International manager Damian Guthrie.

Can’t be there in person? Catch all the action live at USEF Network. New to the sport of combined driving? Check out our video intro to combined driving in the Learning Center. While you’re there, go behind the scenes for a show jumping course walk with Olympic medalist McLain Ward.

And put Live Oak International on your equestrian bucket list. Here are six reasons why:

  1. The High Stakes

The $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier Grand Prix presented by Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club on Sunday, March 12, is the last chance for show jumpers to qualify for the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha, Nebraska. With only a few remaining U.S. spots open, Charlie Jacobs, Adrienne Sternlicht, Leslie Burr-Howard, Callan Solem, and Todd Minikus will be in hot pursuit of valuable World Cup points with the hope of securing their spot for the World Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, the drivers will be contending for US Equestrian Federation national championship honors in single pony, pair horse and pony, and four-in-hand horse and pony divisions.

  1. The Cross-Country Thrills

Combined driving’s marathon – which takes place on Saturday, March 11, at Live Oak – is the equivalent to three-day eventing’s cross-country phase, but on wheels, over slightly rolling terrain. Fast-paced and highly technical for drivers and horses, the marathon sends horses and ponies (single, pairs, and in teams of four) through fiendishly complex questions that test teamwork and agility. Two iconic spectator favorites: the CBC National Bank water hazard, which sends teams splashing through a pond as part of the obstacle, and Cape Cod Wood Siding’s The Gulch, with its challenging slopes and turns.

  1. The Scenic Venue

Live Oak Plantation, which hosts the competition, is one of the country’s most beautiful properties, with Spanish moss-laden oaks, lush pastureland, and sandy horse paths that seem to lead straight to a bygone era.

Live Oak is only open to the public once a year, when it hosts Live Oak International. In the three weeks leading up to the event, Guthrie and his crew transform about 500 acres of cow pasture at the 4,500-acre operation into an equestrian paradise. Live Oak International features about 30 to 40 show jumps and eight available cross-country driving obstacles that challenge competitors and thrill spectators. The transformation involves 100 tents, 300 stalls, and 3,000 decorative plants, not to mention installation of internet and electrical service, all for four days. “Within 10 days after the event, we can turn the cattle back in there again, and you wouldn’t know it had ever taken place here,” says Guthrie.

Live Oak Stud, also located on the property, is a renowned Thoroughbred breeding and racing operation owned by Charlotte Weber, whose children Chester Weber (a four-in-hand driving champion himself) and Juliet Reid are co-presidents of Live Oak International.

  1. The Vendor Village

Live Oak International’s shopping and dining area attracts a diverse array of sellers offering everything from saddles to Live Oak International merch to South African excursions to Cuban-style sandwiches.

  1. The Live Oak International 5k

The best way to tour Live Oak? Put on your walking or running shoes and join the Live Oak International 5k on Sunday morning, March 12. The course winds through parts of Live Oak that the public only sees during this event, including the farm’s Thoroughbred racing division and the training barn of world-renowned combined driving champion (and Live Oak International co-president) Chester Weber, whose mother Charlotte C. Weber owns Live Oak Stud. For younger kids and families, there’s a one-mile walk.

  1. The Clydesdales

The flashy black-and-white Express Clydesdales will be performing in the main grass ring at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, and Sunday, March 12. These friendly horses tower from 17 hands to 19 hands tall and attract a crowd wherever they go. Bonus: you can meet them, and they’re happy to pose with spectators for selfies.

Two to Watch at Live Oak International

Tune in to USEF Network’s coverage of Live Oak International and you’ll see a lot of great performances in both combined driving and show jumping. Here are two storylines to follow:

Jumping: For Chloe Reid, Live Oak Is a Family Affair

The backstory: Chloe Reid, 20, has good reason to love the Live Oak venue. The competition takes place on the 4,500-acre Live Oak Plantation in Ocala, Fla. that her grandmother, Thoroughbred breeder Charlotte Weber, owns. Uncle Chester Weber, the 13-time USEF Four-in-Hand National Champion who also will compete in combined driving at Live Oak International, has a training base there. And Chloe’s mom Juliet Weber Reid serves alongside Chester as co-president of Live Oak International.

Chloe Reid. Photo Credit: PicsOfYou.com.

“As well as a show jumping competition where I get to compete, it’s also a major driving competition where my uncle gets to compete,” explained Reid (Washington, D.C.). “It’s very special to me to have both disciplines in the family competing and to have my grandmother’s Thoroughbreds on the property at the same time. My grandmother and my uncle are who originally put me on a pony.”

Rising star Chloe Reid has earned numerous top placings at USEF championships and international competitions. Most recently, she rode on the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team that earned a silver medal on the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup at CSIO4* Wellington on March 3. Reid competed in four USEF Junior Jumper National Championships, winning individual gold in 2014, and helped the Zone 3 Young Rider team win gold in 2014 and bronze in 2013 at the Adequan/FEI Young Rider & Junior Championships presented by Gotham North. She earned team gold in the FEI Young Riders Nations Cup presented by Hollow Creek Farm at CSIO Wellington in 2015, and made her senior Nations Cup debut last year at CSIO3* Samorin in Slovakia. Earlier this year, Chloe Reid received the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy to recognize her as a young rider in one of the Olympic disciplines who exemplifies both sportsmanship and horsemanship.

The goal: She plans to bring two horses to the jumping competition: the stallion Codarco and a new gelding, Donald. “Last year I finished second in the grand prix, so I would love to keep that same success in the World Cup Qualifier,” she said, referring to the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Qualifier Grand Prix presented by Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club on Sunday, March 12.

Combined Driving: Suzy Stafford and Her Morgan PVF Peace of Mind Seek Fourpeat

The backstory: Suzy Stafford (Coatesville, Pa., and Ocala, Fla.) and her Morgan horse PVF Peace of Mind will be trying to clinch their fourth consecutive win in Live Oak International’s FEI Single Horse class – a win streak that has contributed to the mare’s title as US Equestrian’s Combined Driving Horse of the Year in 2016, as well as her award as USEF International Horse of the Year in 2015.

“It’s special partly because this is a horse that I own,” Stafford said of “Hunny,” whom Stafford has had since the mare was three and just starting in harness. “I’d like to say we have a great relationship, but you’d probably have to ask her what she thinks! She’s about 15.2 hands on a good day, and there’s a lot of personality stuffed in that little package. She demands a lot of attention, and if she doesn’t get it she can get a little aggravated. She’s quite a bold competitor, and the more atmosphere there is, the more she takes charge. That’s probably why she does well at Live Oak, because there is a bigger atmosphere there than you normally have in the States.

“Most Morgans are small if you compare them to warmbloods, but their power-to-size ratio is quite impressive,” Stafford added. “They have a lot of power and endurance for their size, and that’s always helpful when you’re in the hazards; you don’t have all that body to maneuver around, and yet they can keep up with the bigger horses. And all the Morgans I’ve known are a little bit of an overachieving kind of horse, so usually they give you sometimes even more than you want. But at this level, that’s important.”

The goal: “I always strive to have a personal best score in dressage, so to get my personal best with her I need a score 39 or under,” Stafford said. “And I’d like to improve in our hazard driving. I’d like to be a little faster, so I’ve been working on that quite a bit.”

By US Equestrian Communications Department

Seventh FEI World Cup Driving Title for Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell (FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

Lausanne (SUI), 26 February 2017 – After a breath taking competition at the renowned Gothenburg Horse Show in Sweden, Boyd Exell (AUS) won the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final for the seventh time in his career. The silver went well deserved to Jérôme Voutaz (SUI) who was the winner the day before. Koos de Ronde (NED) took home the bronze.

Level 4 Course Designer Johan Jacobs (NED) had laid out a technical course with three obstacles and a brand new bridge, which suited most of the drivers. It was Jacobs’ first time as Course Designer at an FEI World Cup ™ Driving Final and his goal was to see controlled speed, which worked out well in the course.

After Competition 1 on Saturday, the drivers carried 50% of the time difference in seconds between the winner and themselves forward into the Final.

Boyd Exell had to make up 1,74 seconds to Jérôme Voutaz and decided to change his route to avoid making any mistakes like he had done the day before: “Today I was more focused; I drove better. My horses were just as good as yesterday. It is always difficult to deliver a good round, but today it went really well.” After the first round, Boyd had an advantage of a little over four seconds to Jérôme, so he was the last man in. The Winning Round took place over a shortened course and Boyd drove fast and clear, securing his seventh World Cup title and the second one in Gothenburg. Boyd won his first ever Final in the Scandinavium in 2009.

Jérôme Voutaz was not amongst the top favourites before the Final but that changed quickly when he drove an impeccable round in Competition 1. Jérôme had never won a World Cup round before and was very pleased, but also felt the pressure of being the last starter in the first round of the Final. Jérôme turned his team of Freiberger horses very tight around the obstacles and set a good time. Unfortunately, one knock down prevented him from widening the gap with third placed Koos de Ronde. Before the winning round, the difference between De Ronde and Voutaz was only 0,53 seconds, but De Ronde knocked two balls down which gave Voutaz some air: “I was very pleased with my rounds and happy to be able to keep the pressure on. But I made a few mistakes with my rein handling, so I know I can be a little faster still; there is more to win with this team!” The Swiss auto mechanic is an amateur driver and used three of his outdoor horses, amongst which two dressage horses and a marathon horse, in his team.

Koos de Ronde used a different horse in the lead of his team Saturday and decided to change back to his regular team for the Final. Koos was now able to change gear all the time and had a better feeling. Unfortunately he had two balls down, but because he put the throttle on after his second mistake, he qualified for the Winning Round: “The first ball was my mistake, but I was happy to be in the Winning Round. I didn’t expect that after two mistakes. I then knew I had to drive fast in order to win, so I took some risks and I had two balls down again. I was hoping for a podium place before the Final and I am pleased that I made it, despite the mistakes.”

Jozsef Dobrovitz (HUN) finished in fourth place, driving a team he had just put together for this Final, including two new horses. Dobrovitz drove clear, but his time just wasn’t fast enough to enter the Top Three.

Title defender IJsbrand Chardon (NED) had bad luck in Competition 1 where he knocked three balls down. Chardon had to make up over seven seconds to Voutaz and even though he gave his best and stayed clear, this wasn’t enough for a podium place.

Wild card driver Fredrik Persson (SWE) felt a little rusty on the first day as he had not been competing for two months, but he drove his team of nice, aged Swedish warm blood horses to the sixth place. The average age of his horses is 21 years old, but they are still fit as ever.

Georg von Stein (GER) was assisted by is compatriot and international four-in-hand driver himself, Christoph Sandmann, as his navigator. Unfortunately Georg had an error of course in the last marathon obstacle, which dropped him to the seventh place.

For more information on FEI World Cup™ Driving, please check the FEI website.

By Cindy Timmer

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

For Gothenburg:

Lotta Amnestal
Lotta.Amnestal@ridsport.se
+ 46 709 79 56 35

A New Status for Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2017

Royal Windsor Horse Show will set new standards in 2017 as it welcomes CSI5* Show Jumping to the Private Grounds of Windsor Castle. The Show Jumping will be a highlight of the five-day event which takes place from 10-14 May and features top-class equestrian action in four equestrian disciplines and more than 120 showing classes. This year the Show incorporates some exciting new additions.

The newly upgraded CSI5* Show Jumping will be a highlight of the Windsor programme as elite international riders take to the Castle Arena to compete for a total prize fund of £520,000. At the pinnacle of the competition will be the inaugural Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 14 May, with an unprecedented £258,000 in prize money.

Adding to the international standing of the event, the CDI4* Dressage competition has been upgraded from its previous CDI3* status when it last featured in 2015. The Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music will take centre stage during the evening performances on Thursday and Friday respectively and are set to see the top riders battle it out for the enhanced 4* prize.

One of the most important Driving events in the UK, the Land Rover CAIO4* International Driving Grand Prix, takes place from Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 May. Contenders will be competing not only for the Royal Windsor Horse Show title but to qualify for the FEI World Cup™ Final. 2017 sees the welcome return of the Horse Pairs to the Grand Prix, which were last a part of the competition in 2014, and this year will be competing at CAIO3* level.

On Friday 12 May competitors will take to Windsor Great Park for the CEI2* 120km and new CEI1* 80km Endurance rides. Alongside these international rides, Royal Windsor now offers National riders the opportunity to qualify for the EGB Cup, through the introduction of a 40km National Ride. Run in accordance with FEI rules, the event will give National competitors a flavour of International competition.

Royal Windsor Horse Show plays host to some of the most important Showing classes in the UK, such as the Land Rover Mountain and Moorland Supreme Championship and the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Ridden Show Horse Championship, which last year was won by HM The Queen’s homebred, Barber’s Shop. Organisers are delighted the Ridden Purebred Arab class will return after a prolonged absence.  Furthermore, this year will also see the introduction of the Supreme Ridden Show Champion, an opportunity for selected champions across the five days to compete to be the overall Showing Champion of Royal Windsor.

In an entirely new competition, the longstanding Oxford vs Cambridge rivalry will take to unfamiliar heights as the two universities will be battling it out in a Varsity Dressage and Show Jumping class taking place on Saturday 13, each team bidding to finish on top of their old adversaries.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, said: “Royal Windsor Horse Show is set to be better than ever in 2017. Not only will we see some of the best international Show Jumpers at Windsor this year through the elevation of the Show Jumping to 5* level, which put us alongside the best international horse shows in the world, but there are also lots of exciting new additions to the schedule.”

Away from the competitive action, spectators will be treated to entertaining displays including The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games, and The Shetland Pony Grand National.

Entry Tickets are available from just £17 and for those seeking a more exclusive experience, the Members Enclosure is also available. New for 2017 is the introduction of the Windsor Enclosure, offering an additional ticket tier, allowing pre-booked grand stand seating and access to a dedicated bistro, bar and lawn on the north-east end of the Castle Arena.

Tickets to Royal Windsor Horse Show can be purchased at www.rwhs.co.uk or by telephoning the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally.

For more information, please contact Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)203 176 0355

Chester Weber to Be Keynote Speaker at Ocala ExCEPtional Breakfast

Photo Courtesy of KwikTurn Media.

Ocala, FL (February 13, 2017) – Three-time World Equestrian Games Silver medalist and 13-time U.S. Four-in-Hand National Champion Chester Weber will be the keynote speaker for the February 15, 2017 exCEPtional Mornings Business Briefing Breakfast at the ITW Facility at Ocala Breeders’ Sales in Ocala, Florida. The event is put on by the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP).

Weber was tapped to present at the event because of both his significant accomplishments in the sport of combined driving and his family’s multi-generational contributions to a range of equestrian sports – from racing, show jumping, and driving to hosting the Live Oak International, the largest equestrian competition to feature both jumping and driving in the U.S. The 26th Live Oak International will be held on March 9-12, 2017, on the pristine grounds of the 5,000-acre Weber family estate.

Director of Equine Engagement at the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) Louisa Barton explained, “We wanted our keynote speaker to be someone who is a superstar in Ocala and the surrounding area, and Chester certainly is that. We felt like we could highlight Live Oak International, which is a very important event in our community hosted at the Weber family’s Live Oak Plantation. The Weber family is so rooted in the equine industry – not only in the four-in-hand, but in all aspects of the industry.

“The economic value of the equine industry in the Ocala/ Marion County is estimated at 2.6 billion a year,” Barton continued. “That’s billion with a ‘B’ – and we feel like the Weber family is a big part of the equine industry here in Ocala. Whether you are a feed store, a tack store, a restaurant, or a grocery store in Ocala, you must certainly feel the impact of the equine industry.”

When asked why he chose to take time out of his busy training and competition schedule to speak at the exCEPtional Mornings Business Briefing Breakfast, Weber said, “I want to spread awareness about Live Oak International and promote horse sports in general within the local community. This will be our 26th year hosting Live Oak, which is the largest spectator event in Marion County. Last year, we drew an audience of about 10,000.”

Weber expounded, “The local impact is tremendous – the hotels are all fully booked that week. The restaurants are all full. Live Oak International appeals to equestrians and non-horse people, as well.”

Barton said, “We really want to encourage people to come out and enjoy a day at Live Oak this year. Enjoy the rolling hills, the Spanish moss, and the lovely weather. The four-in hand obstacles are so exciting, whether you are a horse person or not!”

The exCEPtional Mornings Business Briefing Breakfast events offer CEP partners an opportunity to learn from keynote speakers like Chester Weber about topics of significance to the regional or national business scene, while also providing an opportunity to network.

For all news on Team Weber’s latest achievements, upcoming events, and new horse additions, visit Team Weber’s official Facebook, Instagram @ChesterWeber, and www.ChesterWeber.com. For information about attending Live Oak International, visit www.liveoakinernational.com. For information about the ExCEPtional Breakfast with keynote speaker Chester Weber, please call the CEP at 352-629- 8051.

For more information, contact:
Chester Weber
chester@chesterweber.com
1-352-895-1139

Arte Ecuestre: Interagro Lusitanos Showcased at Haras Godiva’s Celebration of the Horse

Mauricio Delucchi and Desordeiro Interagro (Photo courtesy of Interagro Lusitanos)

Jose Ignacio, Uruguay (February 11, 2017) – At the junction of performance and art lies Arte Ecuestre. Combining the unbounded beauty of South America’s eastern coast with an unbridled passion for the equine, this yearly celebration of the horse brings lifelong equestrians and newly discovered fanatics alike a spectacular exhibition of sport, culture, and entertainment. Presented January 12, 2017 by Zuercher Kantonalbank, Haras Godiva welcomed over 130 guests to the equestrian estate, which doubles as elite training center and stunning equestrian retreat.

The six acts of Arte Ecuestre correspond to the six disciplines presented in the performance: dressage, gaucho, driving, vaulting, jumping, and the Pas de Trois. With each act set to music and reflecting the diversity of equestrian sport, the grace and elegance of dressage to the heritage of the gaucho, the stars, of course, are the horses. For the dressage and driving acts, three Lusitano horses bred and owned by Interagro Lusitanos of Brazil epitomized the power, precision, and beauty inherent in these FEI disciplines. Trained and ridden by Mauricio Delucchi, Bailos Interagro and Desordeiro Interagro demonstrated dressage as a Freestyle and a Pas de Trois. Bailos Interagro, living up to his name, danced his way through the Grand Prix movements under the guidance of Delucchi, while Delucchi and Desordeiro, who is schooled through the Prix St. Georges, performed alongside Haras Godiva’s founder and owner Carolin Mallmann aboard Cesar Itapua and Paulina Morales with Capricho Itapua in a Pas de Trois set to the music of Strauss.

As a complement to the synchronized movements and elegance of the dressage, Argentine National Champion Carl Facht, with Josefina Frederick riding shotgun, piloted Zamorim Interagro through a thrilling demonstration of the obstacle phase of driving. Galloping through the elaborate course to the upbeat rhythm of techno, Zamorim’s agility and athleticism were highlighted by both Facht’s talented driving and the golden glow of the setting sun.

Zamorim Interagro being piloted by Argentinian driving champion Carl Facht at Arte Ecuestre (Photo courtesy of Haras Godiva)

Uruguay’s Martin Rodriguez, a veteran the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games and 2014 World Equestrian Games, showcased the discipline of showjumping with the P’Compadre Concalma, while Paulina Morales guided Sopresa through the bursts of speed and tight turns of the gaucho performance, a traditional display of South American horsemanship. Luciana Bidarte, Maria Eugenia Marmol, Marina Stapff, and Sofia Rabaquino presented the teamwork, rhythm, and athleticism of gymnastics on horseback, with Josefina Estavillo as coach and lunger, to round out Arte Ecuestre’s six acts.

With over 40 years of experience breeding, training, and exporting Lusitanos, Interagro’s mission is to preserve the exceptional bloodlines and qualities of the breed while showcasing their talent, beauty, and intelligence, especially in the FEI and sport horse disciplines. Established in 1975 by Dr. Paulo Gavião Gonzaga, Interagro’s initial vision was to preserve and restore the original foundational Lusitano bloodlines and lineages, many of which were in danger of extinction following the Portuguese Revolution of 1974. Through meticulous breeding, exceptional care, and world-class training, the Interagro Lusitanos of today continue that legacy as they compete across four continents.

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com or follow them on Facebook. To organize a trip to Brazil or for any questions regarding sales or the logistics of importing horses to the US, contact their US Sales Representative, Peter van Borst at 817 368 9447.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com

Boyd Exell Is the Best in Bordeaux

Boyd Exell (FEI/Pierre Costabadie)

Bordeaux (FRA), 5 February 2017 – Boyd Exell (AUS) has won the eighth and last leg of the FEI World Cup™ Driving in Bordeaux (FRA) after an exciting battle with his Dutch opponents Koos de Ronde and IJsbrand Chardon. This was Boyd’s third win for World Cup points of this season, which puts him in the lead of the final standings before the FEI World Cup™ Driving Final.

For the first time in years, Bordeaux played host to a Leg instead of the Final, but the seven top drivers guaranteed excitement nevertheless. International Level 4 Course Designer Jeroen Houterman (NED) had laid out a very challenging course, in which technique and speed were well combined. According to some, this was the best course of the season so far.

The top three drivers all have great memories of Bordeaux since they all have won the Final here at least once. Koos de Ronde was the first man in the arena in the Winning Round, which took place over a shortened course and in which the drivers started from scratch again. Koos drove an amazing fast and clear round which put the pressure on Ijsbrand and Boyd: “The last two shows I had the feeling that luck was not on my side, but here it all came together for me. I had a very good feeling, especially because I drove faster than IJsbrand this time. I knew it was a difficult course in which it was easy to have a knock down, but I really went for it and all went okay. I will most likely use the four horses I used today in the Final in Gothenburg as well. I definitely feel I have a chance for a podium place with this four-in-hand; they feel very good.”

Reigning World Cup Champion Ijsbrand Chardon was the next driver in the arena, where the enthusiastic spectators filled the stands. Chardon, however, made an error of judgement by taking a turn too short in the first marathon obstacle. It went well, but the longer route would have been faster: “It was more difficult than I thought. Instead of winning two to three seconds, I lost them. I wanted to force Boyd to take the same route, but it didn’t turn out like that. It was a gamble and I lost it, but that is okay.”

Boyd Exell just came back from a short holiday after Leipzig, which had obviously done him good. The reigning World Champion attacked the course and came out nearly three seconds faster than De Ronde: “I like a tougher course and this one suited me well. It gave us the chance to use our power and to show the technical skills of our team. I decided not to take any risks because the positioning in the Final does count. I am now the last driver to go into the arena in the first competition in Gothenburg later this month, which is important. My horses’ fitness is getting better and I am not afraid that they will become too fit.”

Edouard Simonet (BEL) put down an excellent performance in Bordeaux in both competitions. The talented driver drove his team of Arabo Friesian horses clear and smooth through the course and finished in fourth place. The battle for the sixth place in the Final went between Simonet and Georg von Stein (GER). The latter finished in fifth position, which qualified him for the Final. Wild Card drivers Benjamin Aillaud (FRA) and Sébastien Mourier (FRA) claimed the sixth and seventh place.

For the complete results, click here.

The 2016/2017 FEI World Cup™ Driving series now moves on to the Final in Gothenburg (SWE) on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 February 2017.

The FEI World Cup™ Driving competition in Gothenburg will be broadcast live on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform, on Sunday 26 February.

For information on Gothenburg, go to www.gothenburghorseshow.com or contact Press Officer Lotta Amnestal, Lotta.Amnestal@ridsport.se, + 46 709 79 56 35.

For more information on FEI World Cup™ Driving, please check the FEI website.

By Cindy Timmer

FEI Media Contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

At Bordeaux:

Pascal Renauldon
p.renauldon@rbpresse.com
+33 608759407