The U.S. Pony Drivers had another successful day in Lipica, Slovenia at the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships. As a team they forged through difficult marathon conditions to lie third in the standings heading into Sunday’s finale. Germany leads comfortably with a combined score of 345.01, with The Netherlands sitting the Silver medal position on 360.39. On 382.08, the U.S has a wide margin over the fourth-placed British team.
Single Pony Championship
Less than 10 points separate the top nine ponies in the Single Pony Championship, three of which are Americans. Individual driver Suzy Stafford (Wilmington, DE) was the Individual Bronze medalist in 2009, will attempt to drive her way back in to the individual medals again on Sunday. She currently is fourth with Josephine. Shelly Temple, who drives LR Ami B-Line (Windsor, SC), and Miranda Cadwell, who drives Kabam (Southern Pines, NC), are in eighth and ninth respectively, with less than half a point separating the two American drivers.
Team Pony Championship
Veteran Lisa Stroud (West Grove, PA) commandeered a masterful marathon with her team of grey ponies and utilized Koos de Ronde (one of the best marathon drivers in the world) as her navigator. She drove to seventh place individually in the Pony Team championship, two places ahead of her teammate Laurie Astegiano (Roussac, France) who moved up three places after the dressage phase.
“They were absolutely fabulous and it was carnage out there. There were people going crazy fast and making big mistakes. My ponies were really fit. I had a lot of power for the marathon and they came in really well. They were definitely on their game and that was really fun,” said Stroud. “I did have one moment of drama; I am so lucky to have had Koos de Ronde on the back of my carriage. I just caught a tree root which bounced us into another tree. I was being thrown out of the carriage, and somehow he reached forward and grabbed me and reached back and grabbed the back step and pulled us both back on to the carriage. It was incredible.”
Pony Pair Championship
Jennifer Maetheson (Aiken, SC) drove to sixth in a close Pony Pair Championship, aside from clear leader Dieter Baackman, the next five places are separated by just four points. Wendy O’Brien (Aiken, SC) is in 22nd.
Cones complete the competition on Sunday, when Team and Individual World Champions will be crowned.
Follow the U.S. Driving Team on the event website: http://www.lipica2011.si/en/ and check http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2011DrivingWorldChampionships/ for photos, reports, and all the information about the U.S. drivers throughout the week.