U.S. Drivers Hold on to Top Spot after Marathon Phase at WEG

American riders win para-dressage freestyle medals; Germany clinches team vaulting gold.

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Boyd Exell driving on the marathon course
Boyd Exell of Australia currently leads the standings in combined driving at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018.

The first day of autumn was hot and sunny at the Tryon International Equestrian Center where the 19 combined driving teams took to the White Oak course for the marathon phase.

The marathon is based on eventing’s cross-country phase. In the driving version, competitors navigate through hazards that can include hills, tight turns, and water. Each hazard is timed separately, so unlike cross-country, drivers can opt to walk in between hazards without worrying about taking too much time. With the lingering North Carolina summer weather, drivers were letting their teams catch their breath today.

Chester Weber driving on the marathon course
Chester Weber of the U.S. currently stands in second place in WEG driving.

Australia’s Boyd Exell was the overnight leader after dressage with his stunning team of black Warmbloods. His total time on the marathon was the third fastest, but his dressage dominance was enough to let him hold on to that lead through today.

American Chester Weber came into marathon day in second place. With his fifth fastest finish, he also held his place on the leaderboard with his team of bay Warmbloods.

But after Weber, standings didn’t stay in their dressage order. Belgium’s Edouard Simonet had the fourth fastest time to move up from sixth to third place. Koos de Ronde of the Netherlands had the best marathon time, and that was enough to launch him from 14th place after dressage to fourth heading into the cones phase.

James Fairclough driving on the WEG marathon course.
James Fairclough of the U.S.

The U.S. team maintained its lead after the marathon. James Fairclough, the first on course this morning, stayed in 11th place overall. Misdee Wrigley-Miller had a slow finish overall that dropped her from fourth after dressage to 15th.

The team from Belgium had the best marathon day overall and moved up to second place behind the U.S. in team standings. The Netherlands is close behind in third.

Driving concludes tomorrow afternoon after the end of show jumping.

Misdee Wrigley-Miller drives through the Mars water complex on the WEG marathon course
Misdee Wrigley-Miller of the U.S.

Making Strides in American Para-Dressage

Para-dressage concluded today with the final individual freestyle tests and medal presentations. Eight riders for each grade are invited back for these final rounds in which riders choreograph their own tests to music.

Italy’s Sara Morganti repeated her individual gold medal win in the Grade I freestyle with her Rheinlander mare, Royal Delight. In Grade II, Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup rode a phenomenal test with Helle Kristiansen’s 17-year-old gelding, Horsebo Smarties.

The gold for Grade III went to Dutch rider, Rixt van der Horst, whose test with the Dutch Warmblood mare, Findsley, was synched perfectly to her music and scored an impressive 77.347%. In Grade IV, another Dutch rider, Sanne Voets, rode another Dutch horse, Demantur N.O.P., to another gold. Voets also won the individual Grade IV gold earlier in the week.

In Grade V, Sophie Wells of Great Britain continued her dominance of the division, posting an 80.755 with C Fatal Attraction, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.

Rebecca Hart riding El Corona Texel in para-dressage at WEG
Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel of the U.S.

American riders had a banner day with their freestyle tests to finish off an exceptional WEG for the para team. Rebecca Hart broke the U.S. medal drought in the sport when she took bronze in the individual Grade III test on Wednesday, and she continued the trend by winning silver in the freestyle with El Corona Texel.

In Grade I, Roxanne Trunnell also took bronze with Kate Shoemaker’s 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Dolton. Shoemaker rode another of her horses, the Hanoverian stallion, Solitaer, to a bronze medal finish in the Grade IV.

Vaulting’s Big Finish

Kristina Boe of Germany performs her Jane Goodall-inspired freestyle vaulting routine.
Kristina Boe of Germany performs her Jane Goodall-inspired freestyle vaulting routine.

The vaulters from Germany maintained their dominance in the final rounds of freestyle competition today.

On the women’s side, Kristina Boe performed her Jane Goodall-inspired routine to the top score of 8.388. Her teammate Jankia Derks took the silver medal while Lisa Wild of Austria came in a close third to take the bronze. Elizabeth Osborn was the best placed American female in today’s freestyle, finishing in 11th place.

For the men, Lambert Leclezio of France managed to prevent what would have been a medal sweep by the Germans, and he did it in a big way. His freestyle scored a 8.744, the gold-medal score for the division. Jannik Heiland, Thomas Brusewitz, and Jannis Drewell of Germany took the 2nd through 4th places on the final scoreboard. The Americans had a tough go, with Colton Palmer and Kristian Roberts finishing in 14th and 15th.

Lambert Leclezio of France in the individual vaulting male freestyle.
Lambert Leclezio of France in the individual vaulting male freestyle. Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg

In the squad competition, the German team with 2010 gold medalist Patric Looser as the lunger, turned in yet another impeccable performance for a 9.104 and the gold. The fight for silver and bronze was a close one, with the Austrian team scoring an 8.641 and the Swiss team close behind at 8.491.

The U.S. squad had a great performance and a heartbreakingly close-to-the-podium score of 8.457, which put them in fourth place at the end of the night.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is the final day of the 2018 WEG. The final rounds of show jumping will take place at 9:45 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. EDT. The final phase of combined driving, the cones test, is scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed by the closing ceremony at 5:30.

The final round of jumping will air live on NBC starting at noon EDT.

Tryon 2018 WEG Moment of the Day

Your WEG Moment of the Day for Saturday, September 22: Prior to this year’s WEG, the US had never won a medal in para-dressage. Today, three Americans took home freestyle para medals. Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton won bronze in Grade I, Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel won silver in Grade III, and Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer won bronze in Grade IV. Congratulations to all!

Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton
Roxanne Trunnell and Dolton
Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel
Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel
Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer
Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer

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