Stroud, O’Brien, Maye and Fairclough Lead USEF National Title Hunt at Marathon Phase at the Kentucky Classic CDE

RELEASE: October 6, 2012

Lexington, KY - Saturday as expected was an action packed day at the Kentucky Classic CDE with all competitors contending with Richard Nicoll’s formidable marathon course. Four divisions were also being run as USEF National Championships, with the 18 entries vying for National Titles driving an eight obstacle second phase at the Kentucky Horse Park.

USEF National Combined Driving Ponies Championship

In the USEF National Combined Driving Ponies Championship, the top drivers in each division continued to demonstrate why they are the best in the United States. Allison Stroud extended her lead in the Pony Team Championship on her quest for an eighth National Title in nine years. Wendy O’Brien was also able to maintain her lead in the Pair Pony division and heads into the cones phase well ahead of the field. Paul Maye was the runner-up in the dressage phase but could not be caught on the marathon to now hold the two day lead in the USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship.

USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship

Stroud (West Grove, PA) completed the marathon with an overall score of 99.96, to win the second phase by nearly 20 points. Driving her familiar team of white ponies the veteran driver won hazards one, two, three, four, seven and eight. The team heads into Sunday’s cone phase on a score of 164.40.

Stroud, who has driven in five FEI World Pony Driving Championships, gave her team of ponies all the credit Saturday.

“It was way fun. I was a little rusty because I haven’t had enough competitions this year,” said Stroud. “This is the same team from Lipica (the 2011 FEI World Pony Driving Championships). They are too much fun to drive. They are so much quicker and more powerful than I am. But I will catch-up one of these days.”

Katie Whaley (Paris, KY) gave Stroud a run for her money on the Marathon pushing the pace in each hazard with team of agile ponies. She finished the marathon on a score of 118.48 after having won hazards five and six. She now lies in second place overall with a score of 199.55.

USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship

O’Brien, who was teammates with Stroud last year in Lipica, drove a quick marathon on Saturday in the Pair Pony Championship to finish on a score of 86.33. The Aiken, SC resident won hazards four, six and eight to win the phase by slim margin over Elizabeth Keathley. O’Brien heads into the cones on a score of 131.98 looking for her first National Title after having been victorious in both the dressage and marathon.

Saturday had added significance for O’Brien as not only was she celebrating her birthday on marathon day but it was her first time driving a new pair of ponies on the marathon. The pony she normally drives in the second phase was unable to compete in the Kentucky Classic CDE, so she was utilizing the pair she purchased from the German Team in January 2012 in the hazards for the first time. Despite still forging a partnership with the ponies, O’Brien could not have been happier with them.

“I thought it was a pretty forward and excellent drive.”

Keathley (Woodbury, TN) was the runner-up in both of the first two phases. However, the Pair Pony marathon came down to the time in the very last hazard as Keathley posted the quickest times in obstacles one, two, three, five and seven. She would finish with an overall score of 86.41 just 8/10s of a point behind O’Brien. Keathley enters the cones phase on a score of 154.04 in second place.

USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship

Maye (Fairfield, VA) drove like a man on mission throughout the marathon course to post an overall score of 76.58. He won or tied for the win (hazard number one) in every hazard but four and eight. Maye scored 49.49 in the dressage to lay second after day one and now heads into Sunday on a score of 126.07 looking to clinch his first USEF National Championship.

Miranda Cadwell (Southern Pines, NC) is among the most experienced U.S. pony drivers having competed in FEI World Championships in both the Single and Pair Pony divisions. She used all of her experience on Saturday tying for the win in hazard one and posting the quickest times in four and eight outright. She finished the second phase of competition with a score of 77.95 and carries an overall score of 131.45 and second place into the final phase.

USEF National Pairs Championship

The name atop the leaderboard in the USEF National Pair Championship is familiar to all on both the U.S. and international driving scene, as Jimmy Fairclough is one of the most decorated athletes to compete in the discipline.

On Saturday, Fairclough (Newton, NJ) set winning times in all but one hazard to win the phase with a score of 85.24. Most recently, Fairclough was a member of the Bronze medal winning U.S. Team at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships. He has won the Four-in-Hand National Title four times and looks to add a third USEF National Pairs Championships to his name as he heads into the cones on a score of 136.01.

Lying second after two phase is Misdee Wrigley-Miller (Lakewood Ranch, FL). The winner of the dressage phase finished the marathon with a score of 106.57 and heads into the cones with an overall score of 146.25.

The cones phase of the Kentucky Classic CDE gets underway at 9:30am Sunday.

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