September 25, 2014–The U.S. sent two drivers down centerline on Thursday to kick off the FEI World Driving Championships for Singles in Izsak, Hungary, with both competitors standing within the top 25 after the first day of competition. Before the Ground Jury of Pierre Cazas, József Borka, Reiner Wannenwetsch, Diana Brownlee, and Sarah Mullins, Leslie Berndl drove Uminco through nervousness to stand sixth, while Donna Crookston drove her veteran RG Cowboys Black Cadillac into 25th place.
Berndl (Newcastle, Calif.) and Uminco are known for impressive efforts in the first phase, but tension to start the test meant they were unable to achieve the marks they had hoped for. However, the 13-year-old KPWN gelding settled in the latter half of the test to finish on a score of 46.34.
“I think it could have gone better; the horse settled half way through, but the nervousness hurt us in the first half of the test,” said Berndl.
The reigning USEF National Single Horse Driving Champion had hoped for a better performance in the dressage, but she knows that the championship is far from over.
“(On the marathon) there are eight obstacles that are all really well flagged and challenging. I think running a good marathon could put someone who isn’t winning after the dressage into the lead, and we’re going to go out there and try our best.”
Crookston (Saltsburg, Pa.) was the second U.S. driver into the ring on Thursday with 18-year-old Morgan gelding RG Cowboy’s Black Cadillac. In its fourth World Championship appearance, the veteran combination scored 57.8 in the dressage, and look to climb the leaderboard throughout the weekend.
Italy’s Cristiano Cividini leads after the first day of dressage on a score of 43.46.
Jacob Arnold and Hotspur’s Red Rowl close out the American effort in the dressage on Friday at 1:50pm local time.
To learn more about FEI World Driving Championships for Singles, visit: http://www.izsak2014.hu/
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