Lexington, KY – The driving championship season comes to a close this weekend, as competitors will vie for National Titles in pair horse and ponies divisions at the Kentucky Horse Park. Held in conjunction with the Kentucky Classic CDE, October 4-7, USEF National Champions will be crowned in Pairs, Single Pony, Pair Pony and Pony Team competition.
Competition gets underway Thursday, with the vet check at 9am and the dressage phase beginning at 11:30am. On Saturday, all National Championship competitors head out on the marathon before winners are crowned Sunday at the conclusion of the cones.
USEF National Pairs Championship
A small but talented field lines up to compete for the Pairs National Title in 2012.
Kentucky natives Steve Wilson and Misdee Wrigley-Miller will both be eyeing their first National Championship victory. Jimmy Fairclough will be the third and final entry in the division.
Fairclough was a member of the Bronze medal-winning U.S. Team at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships and has vast experience driving both teams and pairs. He has been the winner of the National Four-in-Hand Title four times and is a two time winner of the USEF National Pairs Championships. He will look to add to his extensive resume this weekend in Lexington.
USEF National Combined Driving Ponies Championship
Four members of the last year’s Bronze medal team at the FEI World Pony Driving Championships have travelled to Kentucky to contend for top honors in their respective divisions. A total of three National Titles will be at stake this weekend for the pony drivers.
USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship
A total of 10 drivers line up in the ultra-competitive USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship. While the experience of the drivers in the division is vast, no one in the field has ever claimed top honors in the Single Pony Championship before. Therefore, the competition will be especially fierce, as each entry strives to claim its first National Title in the division.
Miranda Cadwell will look to display the form that helped the U.S. Team to the Bronze medal and propelled her to Individual sixth place honors at the 2011 World Championships in Lipica. Cadwell also has a plethora of experience in Pair Pony competition, having claimed the Gold medal in FEI World Pony Pair Championships in 2007.
Like Cadwell, Tracey Morgan is also utilizing experience from driving a pair of ponies in the Single Pony division in 2012. Morgan is a seven-time National Champion in the Pair Pony division and looks to diversify her resume with a Single Pony National Title.
USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship
In the Pair Pony division, Jennifer Matheson will be on a mission to secure her third consecutive National Title. However, she will have stiff competition from her 2011 World Championship teammate Wendy O’Brien, who is eyeing her first National Championship.
The final entry in this championship is Elizabeth Keathley of Tennessee. Keathley had successful winter and spring campaigns on the Florida circuit, including collecting second place honors at the Sunshine State CDE.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship
The Pony Team Championship will be the most competitive it has been in years as a field of three vie for top honors. Katie Whaley and Heather Schneider come to Lexington trying to unseat reigning and seven-time National Champion Allison Stroud.
Stroud has only been beaten once in the last eight years in the Pony Team Championship and will look to maintain her strangle hold on the National Title this weekend.
For more information about the Kentucky Classic CDE, visit: http://kentuckyclassiccde.com/.
Follow the 2012 U.S. Driving Team here.
Written by Helen Murray