October 7, 2012–The Kentucky Classic CDE came to an exciting conclusion Saturday with the final cones phase. Additional accolades were on the line as competitors in the Pair and Ponies divisions vied for National Titles. The leaders following the marathon refused to yield, driving accurate final phases to clinch coveted USEF National Championships.
USEF National Pairs Championship
Jimmy Fairclough entered the cones phase with an 11 point lead over second placed competitor Misdee Wrigley-Miller. In the final phase, Fairclough (Newtown, NJ) had an uncharacteristic five balls down but was still able to maintain his lead securing the third National Pairs Championships of his career with a score of 151.65. Fairclough has driven in many of the world’s most prestigious driving events and most recently was a member of the Bronze medal winning U.S. Team at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships.
The veteran driver who was competing with a Pair rather than a Four-in-Hand for the first time in more than five years enjoyed his weekend at the Kentucky Classic CDE.
“It was fun. It’s something I’ve always talked about doing; I changed to pairs this weekend to have some fun,” said Fairclough. “I am rusty though; I haven’t had five down in five years.”
Earning Reserve Champion honors was Wrigley-Miller (Lakewood Ranch, FL). Wrigley-Miller represented the U.S. at the 2011 FEI World Pairs Driving Championship and utilized the experience driving a fluid and efficient cones phase. Balls down at two obstacles resulted in six additional points for Wrigley-Miller leaving her on an overall score of 152.25 just 8/10 of a point behind Fairclough.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship
Allison Stroud (West Grove, PA) yet again demonstrated her proficiency driving a pony team as she won her eighth National Title in nine years. Stroud faulted at two of the hazards in the cones phase resulting in six additional penalties but still finished nearly twenty points ahead of the competition on a score of 170.60.
“It is a privilege to drive mature, champion ponies around a championship course,” said Stroud praising her team and the level of competition throughout the weekend. “It was like a Mini-WEG.”
Finishing in second place in the Pony Team Championship was Katie Whaley (Paris, KY) and her new team of ponies. Whaley executed a faultless cones phase, the only competitor to drive a double clear round in the cones in any of the Advanced divisions, to finish with an overall score of 199.55.
USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship
In the Pair Pony Championship Wendy O’Brien proved unbeatable after seizing the lead in the dressage and continuing to distance herself from the field in marathon. The Aiken, SC native clinched her first National Title in the cones. A careful and accurate performance in the final phase resulting in a 7.58 score, produced an overall total of 139.56.
“It was an excellent weekend; dressage was the best phase but the marathon was such fun,” said O’Brien of the team she has only been driving since January 2012. “They’re so strong and fast. They’re such a team.”
Elizabeth Keathley (Woodbury, TN) finished in second behind O’Brien demonstrating a proficiency in the cones,the only competitor to drive a double clear round in the cones in the Advanced divisions, Keathley posted the top score in the final phase of the Pair Pony Championship; 5.83, to complete on an overall total of 159.87.
USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship
Paul Maye (Fairfield, VA) vaulted himself into the lead of the Single Pony Championship with a winning marathon performance and refused to relinquish his grasp on a National Title in the cones. Adding just one ball down for three points in the final phase, Maye finished on a weekend total of 129.07.
Maye has had his sights on claiming the Single Pony Championship National Title for some time.
“It has been a great weekend. I’ve been working for this for five years,” said Maye. “It was my goal to win the Nationals this year.”
Finishing in second place was the dressage winner Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, MD). Morgan added 89.64 points on the marathon and a single ball in the cones (three points) to finish the weekend on a score of 139.15.
For more information about the Kentucky Classic CDE visit; http://kentuckyclassiccde.com/
Follow the 2012 U.S. Driving Team here.