PRATONI DEL VIVARO, Italy--Chester Weber of Ocala, Fla., finished eighth in the Driving World Championship for Four-in-Hands after the final phase of cones on the grass on Sunday,Sept. 25.
Weber added nine faults to his overnight combined score, and finished the course in 208.04 seconds, for a final competition total of 175.90.
It was pouring rain on the final day of competition that had 36 teams complete the cones course designed by Josef Middendorf of Germany.
With two new horses in the team’s lineup this year, Weber’s KWPN geldings gained valuable experience at a new venue with challenging terrain and technicality throughout the weekend.
Weber, understandingly upset after an uncharacteristically poor Cones competition, did not stop at the area for media to interview competitors.
The cones course was particularly difficult, both in the weaving lines and uneven pacing between the obstacles, the tight spacing between the cones and the width of the carriage wheels, and the short time allowed, according to the top drivers on the gold medal Dutch Team.
CHEf d’EQUIPE Marice Quist was pleased with the week, and is already looking ahead to how the program can return to the podium as a team with a repeat of the gold medal success in Tryon four years ago.
“It was a great week for U.S. Driving," said Quist. "Chester is a professional competitor, and his team is very experienced and hardworking. I appreciate working with such a focused and positive team. Going forward, I am really looking forward to learning more skills to support the energy and positivity around our team, and I cannot extend enough thanks to the USEF and Danielle Aamodt for their continued support of our program and athletes.”
Boyd Exell of Australia won the Individual gold medal, finishing on a score of 156.06, while Ijsbrand Chardon of Netherlands won the Individual silver medal on a 159.82, and Michael Brauchle of Germany too the Iindividual bronze on a score of 163.89.
Exell and Isjbrand Chardon renewed a long rivalry, with Exell having replaced the elder Chardon as top dog a few years ago.
This was Exell's nine driving gold medal and his sixth consecutive Individual gold medal.
Michael "Micky" Brauchle is a full-time farrier and finances his driving competitions by shoeing horses, an art particularly important to driving enthusiasts.
He and his wife also had twins not long ago according to what Excell said in the press conference.
The Netherlands team of Isjbrand Chardon and his son Bram and Koos de Ronde won the Team gold on a final team score of 313.93, with Germany taking silver on a score of 327.45, and Belgium finished with bronze on a final total of 356.39
Bram Chardon was the first double-clear in Cones, no balls on the cones knocked off and no time penalties.
“Everyone had to wait a long time, including myself, for that performance this week," said Bram Chardon immediately after completing Cones."I knew when I made the change of horse before the vet-check that dressage and marathon was going to be hard but I still had my A-team for Cones. We are under pressure from Germany and still have two Dutch to go so this score will count for sure. This was the maximum I could do today, they felt amazing and I knew I had to put the pressure on the rest and we’ll see where it ends."
"I’m the current Dutch, European and World Cup champion, but on the World Championship I had unusual mistakes, the same as Tryon," he said. "I needed the revenge on the Sunday, I needed it today as well to show that I can do it."