Chester Weber made history – again – by winning the USEF National Championship for the eighth consecutive time. The USEF National Championship for singles was won by Robin Groves. That is quite a story. Robin was fourth in dressage, third in the marathon, and third in cones, but it called combined driving for a reason. Leslie Berndl took a commanding lead after dressage with Fritz Grupe’s horse Uminco and had a double clear cones run. Scott Monroe, who was second after dressage would have easily won the marathon but missed a course gate which was just outside the final hazard and was eliminated. Robin was ahead by just over 3 penalties going into cones, and when she hit number 16, everyone held their breath to see if she made the time. She did and beat Uminco who was the defending National Champion, driven by Fritz Grupe last fall in Kentucky. This is Robin’s second National Championship with Thor’s Toy Truck.
Many cones courses today just utilize cones – no more boxes, U’s, L’s or other things that need to be rebuilt if knocked down. The bridge at Live Oak, while beautiful and set right in front of the spectators’ bleachers, claimed two victims. Karen Garrett tipped over when the wheel of her carriage rode up the side and out she went. The carriage righted itself and her horse Emily ran around the arena a couple of times before stopping near the entrance ( the gate was closed).
The promised storm arrived in full force with only two left to drive in the FEI four-in-hand class. Jim Fairclough had actually started his drive when Diana Brownlie rang the bell and called a halt to the class because of the thunder and lightning. Fairclough asked if he could drive anyway, and so did Chester Weber. Otherwise, they would have had to go back to the stables, unhitch, and then start all over when and if the storm ended. Somehow some part of Fairclough’s turnout caught the railing on the bridge and pulled the whole rail down and took it along. Grooms were down to get the piece unstuck from the carriage. Miraculously he was able to continue and still finished in second place. A big disappointment after winning the marathon.
Marcie Quist and Hal finished second. Hal is the horse I drove and blogged about earlier this year.
We’ll have more coverage and photos in the next issue (May/June) of Driving Digest. Stay tuned!