Team USA’s Golden Victory Thrills Home Crowd
The US Equestrian Combined Driving team closed out their home FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) with their first-ever four-in-hand team gold medal at Tryon 2018 on Sunday, September 23. The U.S. Driving Team of James “Jimmy" Fairclough, Misdee Wrigley Miller, Chester Weber, and their respective groups of horses, finished with 353.39 penalties following three phases of competition. In addition, Weber earned his second career individual WEG silver medal, ending on 163.38 penalties. The Netherlands won silver on 356.79 penalties and Belgium won bronze with 364.089 penalties. Individually, Australia’s Boyd Excell won gold with 154.14 penalties and Belgium’s Edouard Simonet rounded out the podium with 174.15 penalties.
Extraordinary Exell Wins Individual Gold
By Luke Norman
On a day when the home nation USA, secured a stunning victory in the Polaris Ranger driving team competition to round off a triumphant FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG), Australian driver Boyd Exell (AUS) proved he remains in a league of his own by securing a third successive individual WEG gold medal.
Not even broken brakes could prevent Exell from tightening his grip towards a third successive individual gold medal as the driving marathon test delighted the packed crowds at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (WEG) on Saturday, Sept. 22. The Australian noticed early on that his braking system was compromised and yet the 2010 and 2014 WEG Individual champion managed to get round the Richard Nicol-designed course in a score of 121.93, the third best of the day. That was enough to extend his overall lead to 7.00 points over second-placed Chester Webber.
Home favourite Webber kept up the pressure on the all-conquering Australian with a controlled display, backed up by an intricately planned strategy designed to combat the searing heat and humidity.
“We have done a lot of studying of lactate levels and heart rates to try to get the horses ready for this,” Webber explained. “When the temperatures get hotter, the heart rates get higher and lactates grow. We trained them at home (Florida) with gallop sets – you can actually train them to drop their heart rate.”
Despite the valiant efforts of crowd favorite Chester Weber, who showed icy composure to drive his team to gold and grab individual silver, no one was able to rival Exell from the moment he entered the dressage arena on day one.
First in the dressage, third in the marathon stage despite driving with broken brakes and second in the closing cones phase, Exell finished with an overall score of 154.14, almost 10 points clear of Weber. Edouard Simonet, the 29-year-old Belgian who was once a back-stepper for Exell, took the bronze medal with a final score of 174.15.
Day one of the driving competition was dressage; day two, marathon; and day three, cones test.
Gold: Team USA with James “Jimmy” Fairclough, Misdee Wrigley-Miller, and Chester Weber
Silver: Netherlands with Bram Chardon, Koos De Ronde, and Ijsbrand Chardon
Bronze: Belgium with Dries Degrieck, Glenn Geerts, and Deouard Simonet
Gold: Boyd Exell
Silver: Chester Weber
Bronze: Edouard Simonet
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