For the second year in a row, Chester Weber, of Ocala, Fla., took home the individual four-in-hand title at the Saumur CAIO**** (France). Weber’s big scores helped the U.S. team, which also included Midsee Wrigley-Miller and Allison Stroud, win bronze in the Nations Cup competition behind the Dutch and French teams.
“What made Saumur special this year was that it was the first time they have hosted a CAIO Nations Cup, and we were able to medal with two drivers new to the four-in-hand horse division,” Weber said. “Moreover, this was [Wrigley-Miller and Stroud’s] first Nations Cup appearance for the United States. I knew we would be in the hunt, but making a plan a reality is always gratifying.”
Fresh off a win at the Windsor Royal Windsor CAI*** (England) in May, Weber and his team of Dutch Warmblood geldings took the dressage lead on June 6 on 32.91. Following the marathon, Weber opened his lead to 9 points, and despite a dropped ball on course, Weber’s final score of 129.25 gave him close to an 18-point victory over Theo Timmerman of the Netherlands.
“Our team of horses continue to dominate in dressage and hold those results for the final days against some of the best drivers in the world, proving to everyone that our strategic plan developed after the [2010 Alltech FEI] World Equestrian Games in Kentucky with [sponsor] Jane Clark, [U.S. Chef d’Equipe] Ed Young and [team coach] Michael Freund are proving to be a recipe for success,” Weber said.
Stroud, of West Grove, Pa., has vast experience in the pony divisions, but she just started competing with a four-in-hand team of horses earlier this year. Last year, Wrigley-Miller, Lakewood Ranch, Fla., took home the USEF National Pair Driving Championship title at Live Oak International (Fla.). At Saumur, Stroud finished 20th individually, while Wrigley-Miller finished 26th.
The United States also had a single representative in the four-in-hand pony division, Laurie Astegiano who lives in Roussac, France. Her win in the cones phase helped her clinch fourth place.