Fairclough and Graburn win Marathon in USEF National Driving
Ocala, FL - March 29, 2008
The marathon got underway at 9 a.m. at the CAI-A Ocala and the first of two USEF National Driving Championships started after lunch on Saturday March 29, 2008. Known as the Live Oak Plantation Combined Driving Event presented by Budweiser, the showcase of the country's best drivers and horses is taking place at Chester Weber's Live Oak Plantation in Ocala, FL. The competition also serves as the second USEF Selection Trial for two of the World Driving Championships.
The marathon is the most exciting part of the combined driving competition, endurance, speed and accuracy are all important parts of a successful marathon trip. Weaving throughout the Live Oak grounds, enthusiastic crowds encouraged the drivers and horses throughout the course. Temperatures soared into the 80s, something the Ground Jury took into consideration and added two minutes to the walk and added five minutes to the time in the vet box.
“I think it was a tremendous benefit,” said FEI Team Pony marathon winner Lisa Stroud. “It was a really kind, tactical move… the welfare of the horse is the most important thing. The stewards have been very, very active in ensuring that the welfare of the horse is the number one priority.”
Host Weber maintained his two day lead in the USEF Team Horse National Championship (which also serves as the USEF Selection Trial for the World Championships to be held in Beesdt, Holland September 4-7) but rival Jimmy Fairclough was faster in the marathon. Fairclough, driving for Jane Clark, was held for about four minutes while the fourth hazard was repaired after Gary Stover's team had a mishap there right before him.
“It really interrupts your rhythm,” said Fairclough. “In the heat at the end of the day I guess it didn't hurt but I much prefer to keep going so that doesn't happen. You get in a frame of mind and you don't want to stop. I think the toughest thing, when you have a rhythm for a young horse it is nice to just keep them in the rhythm and not change.”
Weber held onto his lead after the first two phases - his dressage score gave him a comfortable margin and he leads his title defense for the USEF Team Horse Championship by more than 20 points on a score of 137.72. Fairclough is on a score of 158.15.
Sterling Graburn won the first USEF Selection Trial for the Single Horse World Championships earlier in the spring on the strength of his marathon performance and had another lightning fast effort today. Graburn lies in second after two days with a score of 132.82, but he is less than a point behind his girlfriend Wendy Ying (131.54). Dressage winner Bill Peacock is still very much in the mix with a two day score of 134.78.
“He's been first or second in every marathon that he's done,” said Graburn. “His brother is usually ahead of him or right behind him.”
Ying, who was second in today's marathon, drives the 3/4 sibYing to Graburn's horse. By the same Welsh Cob stallion and out of Arabian cross mares that are half-sisters, Ying has dubbed the duo 'sport cobs'.
Three more selection trials remain for the Single Worlds to be held in Jarantow, Poland August 28-31.
West Grove, PA resident Lisa Stroud drove her lightning fast team of grey Connemara ponies to a brilliant marathon performance in the FEI Team Pony division. The veteran driver was thrilled the effort of her quartet. They lie in first place after the two phases with a score of 149.18.
“I was extremely pleased today with my ponies,” said Stroud. “This is a terrific event to come to it is always well organized, the sponsors are always very supportive and it is a very high class course. The course was very flowing and open and they were happy to get on with it. I think fitness was a factor today, it was hot and they were very fit. It is the one time that having grey ponies becomes an asset. They are a little reflective. I was pleased. They are typically pretty quick on the marathon, it is just how quick my hands are to keep up with them.
Dressage winner Boots Wright lies in second after day two on a score of 151.22.
In the FEI Pair Horse division, Keady Cadwell, a very seasoned driver from Southern Pines, NC drove to a very slim overall lead with an impressive marathon effort. With a score of 121.25 she snuck ahead of dressage leader Larry Poulin who is on a score of 121.61.
“They were fast, they were accurate and they were happy to do their jobs today,” said Cadwell of her pair of horses.
Both of Caldwell's horses have international experience, they both drove in Europe last summer. She feels confident going into the final phase.
“I feel really good,” she said. “I'm going to use my 5-year-old tomorrow and it is only his second Advanced cones round but he's good and we'll do the best we can.”
In the FEI Single Pony division, Samantha Orem, one of the youngest drivers at the competition drove an impressive marathon and snuck into second place overnight behind reining World Pair Pony Champion (and Keady's sister) Randy Cadwell. Orem had her first FEI experience last summer at the World Championships.
“My pony went extremely well,” said Orem. “He was accurate and forward. He was fantastic.”
Competition resumes tomorrow with the finale, the cones portion, at 8.30 a.m.. For more information and complete results please visit www.cailiveoak.com or contact Joanie Morris at email@example.com