OCALA, Fla.--Chester Weber took his first step to a record 16th national championship title with a leading performance in Thursday's dressage at Live Oak International on March 7.
With that win, he leads the USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship, while James Miller tops the USEF Advanced Pairs Combined Driving National Championship.
Weber, the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games team gold and individual silver medalist, drove his talented team of horses to an impressive dressage score of 38.26.
"It's always a challenge to compete at home. My horses stay in their own stables, so they come up here and it's a different atmosphere," Weber said. "They're used to coming up here and seeing nothing but grass and maybe a cow or two, and now there's spectators and white tents and advertisements from our wonderful sponsors. Frankly, they were really good."
WEBER IS followed by his WEG teammate, Misdee Wrigley-Miller, in second place, who scored 43.45.
"Today my leaders were spot on," said Wrigley-Miller. "Driving a team of four horses, to get everyone just right at the right time, is like finding a unicorn. I had one get a little nervous in the atmosphere, but we're all super pleased with the test today."
Lisa Stroud was third on a score of 57.77, and Paul Maye was fourth on a score of 68.43.
James Miller drove to the lead in the USEF Advanced Pairs Combined Driving National Championship, dressage phase, on Thursday morning.
This is a new pair for Miller, but his duo's performance looked anything but inexperienced as they earned a score of 53.91.
"They felt good," said Miller. "They felt sometimes a little too good, but we get that out of horses in a performance ring like Live Oak's. It's always a challenge to go from quieter shows to a show with more atmosphere like this."
Steve Wilson's pair earned a dressage score of 58.77, which sits them in second place.
"I always get anxious about dressage," said Wilson. "There's never a perfect day, but I'm happy with how I drove, and I'm looking forward to marathon and cones. In this sport it usually boils down to the last day."
Other Thursday dressage leaders include Jennifer Keeler in the FEI 2* Pony Single division, Nifty Hamilton in the FEI 2* Horse Single class and Carina Crawford in the FEI 2* Pony Pairs division.
Dressage continues with Intermediate divisions on Friday, March 8, ahead of the Marathon phase on Saturday, March 9, and competition concludes with the Cones phase on Sunday, March 10.
Live Oak International is the last opportunity for show jumping riders to qualify for the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Riders will compete in Sunday's $100,000 Jumping World Cup Ocala.
Other classes include the $10,000 1.40m Power and Speed on Friday as well as the $35,700 CSI3* World Ranking classes on Friday and Saturday.