June 30, 2014–The United States closed out a successful weekend at The Royal Estate in Sandringham, England on Sunday by capturing Team Bronze at the 2014 FEI Para-Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles and adding Individual Silver to their medal haul.
The team of Bob Giles, Virginia “Boo” Fitch, and Diane Kastama kicked off competition on Friday by driving into third place in the dressage and holding their position the following day over the marathon to head into the final cones phase on a score of 242.00. On Sunday, the U.S. drivers added 6.03 penalties to their overall total score of 248.03 to finish just 3.29 penalties behind the Silver medal-winning Dutch team. Germany earned Team Gold on a three-phase total of 227.07.
In Individual competition Giles (Morriston, Fla.) earned the Grade II Silver medal completing the weekend on a score of 125.21 with Koos de Ronde’s Solo. In the dressage the Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient drove the 20-year-old gelding to a score of 43.70 to head onto the marathon in third place. A fourth-place finish there added 75.51 penalties to his score and saw Giles head into the final phase in second place. On the cones course the combination lowered two balls, adding six penalties to their overall score.
Fitch (Penhook, Va.) finished two places behind Giles in Grade II competition in fourth. Driving her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Kiko, she started the weekend in second place after scoring 42.10 in the dressage. A score of 80.72 on the marathon and three balls down for an additional nine points meant Fitch finished her first World Championship on a score of 131.82.
Kastama (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) represented the U.S. in Grade I competition with her own Welsh Cob gelding, Rupert. They began the weekend in 11th place after scoring 52.00 in the dressage and then added 111.32 penalties to their score on the marathon. A strong performance in the cones, where they left all the balls in place meant the combination finished 11th place on a score of 163.32.
Rounding out the U.S. effort in Sandringham was Mary Gray (Brunswick, Maine) who drove Nick Hammond’s eight-year-old Welsh gelding Leyeswick the Rooster as an Individual. In Grade II competition, they finished in 10th place after scoring 58.30 in the dressage, adding a further 109.17 penalties on the marathon and lowering two balls in the cones to finish the weekend on a score of 173.47.
In Grade I competition Jacques Poppen of The Netherlands earned Individual Gold on a score of 107.18, with Heiner Lehrter claiming Silver for Germany with a total of 118.46 and compatriot Markus Beerhues finishing less than six points behind on 124.25 penalties. In the Grade II championship, Germany’s Alexandra Roeder claimed Gold on a score of 111.61 ahead of Giles and Great Britain’s Mick Ward who earned Bronze with 127.25 penalties.
For more information about the championship, visit http://www.britishcarriagedriving.co.uk/sandringham/.
Follow the U.S. Para-Equestrian Team here.