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Saturday, June 03, 2023

Chester Weber and Andre Thieme win at Live Oak in driving and jumping

OCALA, Fla.--Chester C. Weber won his 20th USEF Four-in-Hand Horse National Championship title at Live Oak International while Andre Thieme on DSP Chakaria won the CSI 4*-W $222,600 FEI Jumping World Cup on March 19.

Chester Weberhazard 1 Kim MacMillanChester Weber on the Marathon phase (Photo by Kim MacMillan)Weber won the cones phase with his team of horses Amadeus, First Edition, Julius V, and Kadora, having come in focused on the details and with a plan.

 Thieme won over a field of 38 top riders from around the world with a jump off winning time of 38.28 seconds over 11 that made the jump-off over the course designed by Olaf Petersen Jr.

The class was the final qualifier before the FEI World Cup Final in Omaha.

“My plan today was to try to win, my friend watched the first five riders go in the jump off, and then he came out to me in the schooling area and recommend that I do nine strides in the first line and six strides in the second line, then turn as short as you can to the next jump, be careful through the combination, then turn as short as you can to the plank jump, and then put the foot on the gas to the last jump. That was the plan and it worked exactly the way he told me it would.” said Thieme. “I am extremely happy that the plan worked out perfectly, and its thanks to my friend. I am truly in love with my horse because she is the horse of my lifetime, there is no question about it. She is so different and is better than every other horse I have had. She has given me so much joy and success. I cannot say enough about her.”


PLACING second with a jump off time of 40.14 seconds in her first World Cup Qualifier grand prix was Maria Gabriela Brugal Gasso on J’Adore Flamenco.

Andre Thieme Kim MacMillanAndre Thieme victory gallop (Photo by Kim MacMillan)“My trainer was watching the first few go as I did not want to go into the jump off blindsided," said Gasso. "I knew the pack ahead of me was already very competitive, and my horse is not naturally super fast but has a big stride so you can use this to your advantage in a big field like this. My plan was to give it my best shot today. This was my first World Cup Qualifier grand prix. I have big plans for my horse in the future, he is fantastic. I am trying to build him up for the Pan Am games at the end of the year.”

Santiago Lambre on Chacco Blue II finished third with a jump-off time of 40.86 seconds.

“I came to Live Oak International to try and qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha," said Lambre. "I knew I had to finish in the top five today to qualify. When I went into the jump off, I planned to not go too fast and to be a bit conservative with the goal of being careful and going clean. In the end my plan worked, and I finished third. Finishing third qualifies me for the finals. I have a fantastic horse. It was a great day.”


ALONG WITH  Weber winning the four-in-hand, Taylor Bradish won the FEI 3* Single Horse driving Katydid Duchess, and Jacob Arnold won the very competitive FEI 3* Horse Pair c0mpetiton.

Chester Weber on flat Kim MacMillanChester Weber (Photo by Kim MacMillan)“I’m very pleased with the team of horses as they presented themselves well throughout the tournament," said Weber. "This is the first time that this group has competed together. I’ve had all the horses individually at different shows as we were trying to determine our best mix for going to Europe this year. A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into these 20 Championship titles. We’ll stay focused and work towards championship title number 21. We have next year’s World Championships in our sights and I’m excited for the team’s potential.”

“It has been a great week here at Live Oak International," said Bradish. "My goal coming here was to win the dressage phase as it’s not my best phase. That did not happen this week, so I focused on driving the best marathon that I could. My horse is not one hundred percent fit, but she does not quit on me. I drove extremely technical, and it worked for us. Live Oak International is the best marathon we drive, so it is extremely rewarding to win here. I know there has been a lot of fantastic marathon drivers to win over the 32 years of the tournament, so it is cool to be the first to do it without penalties in the marathon and I hope to be back winning again next year.”

Second to Taylor in the FEI 3* Horse Single was Leslie Berndl and in third place was Catherine Levasseur.

“I was very pleased with my results this weekend," said Arnold. "My horses turned out very well, so when I made a mistake, I knew it was on me. The horses were perfect. I also must credit my team. My grooms and navigators were very instrumental in our results at the tournament. My plan looking forward is the World Championships in France in September, and Live Oak International is the closest thing, if not equivalent to competing in Europe. The international field and the quality of obstacles is very high and with the big atmosphere, the horses know the difference from driving here verses a smaller show. Live Oak International is always a test.”

Second was Gabriele Grasso, and third went to Paul Maye.

 The previous day, Weber had spectators watching with bated breath as he navigated the seven marathon obstacles driving to victory in the FEI Four-in-Hand Marathon Phase.

Weber and his team of horses First Edition, Julius V, Kadora, and Kasper D truly worked as a team to clinch the win in the marathon.

“The horses were great today," said Weber. "They were a bit surprised by the number of people at the Water Hazard which was the first hazard on the course. The number of spectators and the tents added to the excitement and the atmosphere. My left leader, Kadora, is a young horse and today is certainly the most atmosphere he has ever seen. We got a bit tangled up at the water, but we kept moving and I’m very pleased with how we remained focused. I have high hopes for this team as a whole. I could not be prouder of our whole team here at Live Oak International. My Four-in-Hand team and our team member Gabrielle Grasso, who did a fantastic job with some up-and-coming horses of ours in the FEI 3* Horse Pair. Today was a good day for Team Weber.”

Bradish is the first driver ever in the 32-year history of Live Oak International to complete all seven Marathon obstacles without a single penalty, having driven Katydid Duchess in FEI 3* Horse Single Marathon. 

“It was a great Marathon today. I was a bit worried initially about the footing with the weather, but it was fantastic," said Bradish. " I really challenged myself to drive in a more technical way than I normally do, and I had a new navigator, which worked really well. I couldn’t be happier with my horse also. Live Oak International is my favorite show and I always drive my best here. Nothing compares to this show hazard wise. When you win here, it feels very rewarding.”

The very competitive FEI 3* Horse Pair was won by Arnold, with a new addition, Frank, to the team, along with seasoned horse Kenji V.

“I was very happy with the Marathon,"said Arnold. "Frank, a horse I’ve leased, has added another gear, another level of experience that I was missing. Competing at Live Oak International is comparable to competing in Europe with the spectators and all the obstacles are very close and on a loop. I was able to have my coach here as my navigator helping me with timing, and it made a huge difference."

The Horse of Delaware Valley

Editor: Sara Cavanagh

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