TRYON, N.C.--The U.S. Driving Team are in the lead on Friday following the dressage phase, the first of three phases.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Barry Hunter, the U.S. team of James Fairclough, Misdee Wrigley Miller, and Chester Weber aimed for high marks in the U.S. team’s strongest phase of the event.
The team heads into Richard Nichol’s marathon course on Saturday with a score of 77.10.
The Netherlands sit in second with a score of 87.43, with France in third on a score 101.40.
First in for the U.S., James “Jimmy” Fairclough of Newton, N.J., with Bento V, his 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding; Caletta 5, his 2002 Austrian Warmblood mare; Citens, his 2007 KWPN gelding; and Dapper, his 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding, drove down centerline to home crowd applause.
“I felt the horses performed really well,” said Fairclough. “All in all they did well. I had a couple of mistakes, a break in the walk, but the back was good and I was really pleased with them. This footing, the way that they rolled it and packed it, is quite good. I don’t mind it at all.”
Fairclough’s score of 53.15 puts him in 11th headed into the second phase.
THE ONLY female driver to ever be named to a four-in-hand combined driving U.S. Driving Team, and competing in her second WEG, Wrigley-Miller of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., with Beau, her 2006 KWPN gelding; Bravour 54, her 2006 KWPN gelding; Bolino D, her 2006 KWPN gelding; and Daan 8, her 2008 KNHS gelding, completed the second test for the United States.
Though she felt that she had made some small errors in her strongest phase, her score of 42.00 still reflected a solid test and put her in fourth place individually, and the only female driver to break the top eight.
“Overall, I’m really pleased,” said Wrigley Miller. “The horses were so amazing and they were really great for this test today. We gradually brought them along and they were ready for the test. I love my horses, they were great. There is a lot of atmosphere here, which I think is great.”
Looking to marathon, Wrigley Miller said, “It’s a beautiful course. Richard Nichol has built a beautiful course. The obstacles are challenging, but very fair, very drivable. Tomorrow, I am worried about the heat and the footing because as we have been walking these obstacles, you feel that because of the humidity and the heat, it is just heavy going. I think that is going to cause a bit of a problem. The obstacles themselves, of course, are magnificent, and it is such an honor to be here representing the United States.”
WEG veteran Weber of Ocala, Fla., and his experienced team of Asjemenou, his 2005 Dutch Warmblood gelding; Splash, Jane Clark’s 2003 Dutch Warmblood gelding; First Edition, his 2009 KWPN gelding; and Boris W, his 2006 KWPN gelding, needed strong marks to keep the U.S. team in the lead.
Weber was the first U.S. driver to break the 30’s, and his score of 35.10 put the U.S. team solidly in the lead and Weber in second individually.
“I am really pleased with the horses,” said Weber. “We have been working towards this result all season with scores hovering around the 40 mark and I couldn’t be more pleased with 35 at the [WEG]. The horses felt really good and I couldn’t be more pleased with them…I’m over the moon about it.”