Here, finally, are some photos from last Sunday’s cones competition at the World Equestrian Games.

As you already know, Boyd Exell won the individual gold medal. He was the last driver to tackle the cones course, and he had a double-clear round to win the gold medal. After finishing the course, he patted his wheelers and set off on a victory lap … which his horses sure seemed to enjoy.

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With his own double-clear round just before Boyd’s, Chester Weber secured the individual silver medal …

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I missed being able to photography any of Misdee Wrigley Miller’s dressage test, so here are a few photos of her trip through the cones course …

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And that’s it … I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual visit to the Driving Championship at this year’s World Equestrian Games in France!

I meant to mention this earlier in the week, but I hope you’ve figured it out by now regardless. I’ve been keeping you up to date on the Driving Championship at the World Equestrian Games via my CAA Twitter account, which you can read three different ways: my three most recent Tweets on the right of this page, at the CAA’s Twitter page online, or through your own Twitter account (I’m @CarriageAssoc). So by now you should know that Boyd Exell (AUS) won the individual gold medal, Chester Weber (USA) won silver, and Theo Timmerman (NED) won bronze. In the team competition, the Dutch won gold, the Germans won silver, and the Hungarians won bronze. I’m still going through my photos from the cones competition, but I hope to have those up soon. After the awards ceremony, our CAA group came back to our hotel in lovely Trouville sur Mer, and I must admit that I enjoyed a walk down to the beach (and a scoop of ice cream) rather than an afternoon in front of my computer!

Are you ready to see some photos of yesterday’s driving marathon at the World Equestrian Games? Of course you are!

The layout of both the course and the obstacles was a bit unusual this year, and it was difficult to find a particular obstacle that would photograph well. I ended up on the sidewalk above obstacle 2, which is where I took all these photos. I hope you enjoy the view!

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First off, here’s Germany’s Christoph Sandmann, who won the marathon phase.

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And then we have Australia’s Boyd Exell, the defending World Champion, who is now in first place overall, heading into today’s cones competition …

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… Fewer than three points behind Boyd heading into the cones phase is Chester Weber (USA), the winner of the dressage phase.

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Chester’s two U.S. teammates, as I’ve mentioned previously, are Lisa Stroud (shown in the first two of the four photos below) and Misdee Wrigley Miller (shown, in the second two photos, negotiating a tight corner).

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Many American drivers are also quite familiar with these two, as one has worked in the U.S. for a number of years and the other has served as both coach and chef d’equipe for various U.S. teams at international competitions. In the first photo below is Gavin Robson (Australia) and in the second is Koos de Ronde (the Netherlands).

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Along the sidewalks of two streets, the spectator area of the marathon course was separated from the outside world by a long line of fencing with cloth banners designed to keep the non-ticket-holding public from getting, or even looking, in … but that didn’t completely work as planned. The alternate title for this photo, of course, is “Eeek, the fence is watching us!”

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And, finally, I just love these two photos of the young Hungarian driver Jozsef Dobrovitz, Jr., and his horses …

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It’s about time for me to head out for the Top 10 in the cones competition, so I’ll have more on that later!

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It’s now early on Saturday morning here in France, and our CAA group will be heading out soon to claim our spectator spots on the WEG marathon course … along with more than 15,000 other driving fans. I probably won’t be able to post anything until later in the day, so I thought I would leave you with a little scenic / cultural / historic interlude while you await marathon photos.

This first photo shows a historic street in Caen’s city center, just a few blocks from the venue for the WEG Driving Championship …

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And very near that view is this lovely ruin, of what I don’t know …

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And then, across a roundabout from the ruin is this magnificent view …

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The church shown here belonged to the Abbey of Saint Etienne, also known as the “Men’s Abbey.” The imposing building on the left now houses (as best I can tell) Caen’s city hall.

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The Men’s Abbey was founded in the eleventh century by William the Conqueror, while the nearby “Women’s Abbey” (not pictured) was founded by his wife, Matilda of Flanders.

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It was a brilliant afternoon for fans of U.S. driving, who were here in France at the 2014 World Equestrian Games … and for those following along at home.

Chester Weber, who’s had a brilliant year and is currently ranked number one in the world, performed a near-perfect dressage test that earned him the blue ribbon in the first phase of this year’s Driving Championship, with an amazing score of just 32.21 penalty points. As I tweeted after the fact, it looked like Chester’s horses floated through the test. And Chester himself confirmed that notion later, saying that he “was really pleased with the horses … I couldn’t ask more from them today, they gave their all and they felt like they were dancing on clouds.”

With Chester’s win in the dressage phase, the U.S. team now stands in second place behind the Dutch team.

Here are several scenes from Chester’s gorgeous dressage test. In one of these photos, you can see one of tomorrow’s marathon obstacles in the background.

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It may come as absolutely no shock to those of you who follow FEI-level driving, but Australia’s Boyd Exell had a firm handle on the first-place spot after this morning’s dressage session. He is, after all, the two-time defending World Champion … having won the individual gold medal at both the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the 2012 World Driving Championship in Riesenbeck, Germany.

With a beautiful dressage test (“just superb,” as I heard a radio announcer behind me in the media stands say when Boyd had finished), he vaulted into the lead with a score of 35.51 penalty points. Soon thereafter, Theo Timmermann (the Netherlands) scored 37.28, putting him in second place (for now!) over his teammate Ysbrand Chardon (42.12).

Chester Weber (USA) will drive his dressage test in just under two hours, so we’ll see how the leaderboard shakes up after that!

Here are a few images from Boyd’s dressage test …

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Many of us who’ve followed FEI-level driving for any number of years will, when hearing the name Lisa Stroud, still conjure up an image of a team of cute gray ponies.

But this time, Lisa’s competing for the U.S. with a team of big, flashy horses. Their dressage test was the very last one on this first day of dressage competition at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. And with a score of 56.10 penalty points, Lisa now stands in ninth place.

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After this first day of dressage, Misdee now stands in thirteenth place, and Gavin’s in sixteenth.

More tomorrow, including both Boyd Exell and Chester Weber!!

 

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