Weber Wins 2008 USEF National Four-in-Hand Championship

Chester Weber won his sixth consecutive U.S. Equestrian Federation Four-in-Hand Championship March 30 at the Live Oak Plantation Combined Driving Event.
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Chester Weber won his sixth consecutive U.S. Equestrian Federation Four-in-Hand Championship March 30 at the Live Oak Plantation Combined Driving Event.

Ocala, Fla., April 3, 2008 -- Chester Weber added winner and his sixth consecutive U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Championship to his list of titles at the Live Oak Plantation Combined Driving Event presented by Budweiser, March 27-30. Not only did he win the FEI Team Horse Division, he also played host, presenter, bloodstock agent, farm manager and competitor.

"I want it seven times because nobody has ever won it seven times," said Weber of his championship run. "So if I win it seven times in a row that's some sort of feat."

Weber's Live Oak Plantation opened its gates to the community and hosted thousands of spectators over the three days.

"It is without a lot of complications because (organizer) Susan (Gilliard) is a star at what she does," said Weber. "We have most of the running of this event worked out in advance. We get everything done well, well in advance and that makes competing at an event you organize quite a bit easier."

The CAI-A Ocala also serves as a USEF selection trial for the 2008 Four-in-Hand World Championships to be held in Beesdt, Holland, September 4-7.

Weber had a significant lead after the dressage and although he was slightly slower than rival Jimmy Fairclough on the marathon his performance in the cones was plenty good enough to maintain his lead on a score of 140.72. Fairclough remained second.

The second USEF National Championship followed the teams, and the cones proved influential in the hotly contested Single Horse division, also a selection for the 2008 World Driving Championships to be held in Jarantow, Poland, August 28-31.

Marathon winner Sterling Graburn put in a dynamite double clear round in the cones that put the pressure on his girlfriend Wendy Ying who was the two-day leader. Ying also drove an awesome round with her horse but had a mistake at the last set of cones to bring her final score to 134.54 just over a point behind her boyfriend.

"I was really happy with my cones," said Graburn who finished on 132.82. "I've had issues with the cones in the past. Mostly horse issues but I had to convince people that it wasn't me. He's a much better horse, and he's given me a lot of confidence driving cones."

Ying, Graburn and David Schneider were also the winners of the unofficial team competition sponsored by Bill Peacock.

In the FEI Team Pony division two-day leader Lisa Stroud maintained her command of the division with a stellar cones performance with her team of grey Connemara ponies. The West Grove, Pa., driver finished on a score of 152.18, closely followed by Boots Wright who was second.

"They are always fabulous, they save me," said Stroud. "These ponies make me look good."

Larry Poulin and his immaculate pair drove confidently in the FEI Pair Horse division and were less than a point behind Keady Cadwell going into the cones. Both drivers had two obstacles down and Cadwell exceeded the time, but her score of 131.4 was enough to hold the lead and give the experienced driver another victory.

The Cadwell name is synonomus with driving, and Keady's sister Miranda wasn't to be outdone by sibling rivalry. They train and drive together, and the Cadwells grew up in Pennsylvania with Graburn. With a score of 129.4 Miranda convincingly won the FEI Single Pony Division with Kabaam, a 5-year-old, that has had great success since he began driving last year.

For complete results, visit www.cailiveoak.com.