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.
“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