|LEXINGTON, (USEF) - Pair and Pony drivers completed their first phase of USEF National Championship competition Thursday afternoon under beautiful, sunny skies at the event held in conjunction with the Kentucky Classic CDE. Performing their dressage tests in front of the Ground Jury composed of Klaus Christ, Diana Brownlie and Martha Hanks-Nicoll, 18 American competitors made their first steps toward claiming National Titles.
In the USEF National Pairs Championship, Misdee Wrigley-Miller has jumped out to a commanding lead following the first phase. In the USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship, Tracey Morgan utilized years of experience to hold the lead heading into the marathon, while Wendy O’Brien leads a small but talented division in Pair Pony competition. Allison Stroud has put herself in position to claim her eighth National Title by winning the dressage in the Pony Team Championship.
USEF National Pairs Championship
Wrigley-Miller (Lakewood Ranch, FL) performed a consistent, stylish effort with her own KWPN pair Beau and Riant W to score 39.68. The pair demonstrated expressive movement, while staying perfectly in synch throughout the test.
“I was very, very happy with my horses and they were very responsive. The young horse (Beau) is still trying to learn the right things to do,” said the 2011 FEI World Pair Driving Championship veteran. “They were super in my hand; supple, everything they were supposed to be.”
Wrigley-Miller is no stranger to major victories and in August claimed top honors in the Amateur 5-Gaited Mare class at the 2012 World’s Championship Horse Show.
Lying in second place is Team Bronze medalist from the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships, Jimmy Fairclough (Newtown, NJ). Fairlcough drove his own Levin and Kavango von Falkenstein to a score of 50.77.
USEF National Combined Driving Single Pony Championship
Morgan (Beallsville, MD) and her own Fuego 88 hold just under a three point lead in the Single Pony Championship after scoring 46.51. The 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding demonstrated consistency throughout their accurate test which was highlighted by solid transitions and expressive trot work.
Paul Maye (Fairfield, VA) followed Morgan into the arena and also produced an active test with the attractive Markus. Harmony Sporthorses’ 11-year-old American Sport Pony stallion scored 49.49 to lay second after the first phase.
USEF National Combined Driving Pair Pony Championship
The Pair Pony division produced the lowest score throughout the USEF National Combined Driving Ponies Championship. O’Brien (Aiken, SC) earned a 45.65 driving Braakmoor Clowny Clark and Braakmoor Conan.
The Welsh Pony pair demonstrated fluid, rhythmic gaits all while staying in step with one another throughout the test. O’Brien also demonstrated the experience she gained at last year’s FEI World Pony Driving Championships with a very poised effort.
Heading into the marathon in second place is Elizabeth Keathley. The Woodbury, TN native scored 67.63 with her own Welsh Pony pair Rollingwoods Vidar and Annandale Brandy Snap.
USEF National Combined Driving Pony Team Championship
Stroud (West Grove, PA) stands in a familiar position as she will set off on the marathon in the pole-position. Driving her own Sir Patrick, Mystic, Mosby and Kilkerin Edward she utilized all of her National and World Championship experience to score 64.64.
Stroud is among one of the most decorated American drivers having represented the U.S. at five FEI World Championships, having twice been on Bronze medal winning U.S. Teams.
Standing just behind Stroud in second is Heather Schneider (Palm City, FL) who scored 72.75 with her own team of Supreme Court, Cloud 9, Rambo and Jazz.
The Kentucky Classic CDE continues tomorrow with competition in Preliminary and Intermediate divisions. All competitors head onto the marathon Saturday.
For more information about the Kentucky Classic CDE visit; http://kentuckyclassiccde.com/
Follow the 2012 U.S. Driving Team here.