September 20, 2002 — The United States is
in second place at the conclusion of Friday’s Marathon Phase of the
Four-In-Hand Driving World Championship at the 2002 World Equestrian
Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
The U.S. team has a two-phase score of 286.52 penalties. The
Netherlands is in the lead with 275.01 and Germany is third with 290.54.
Individually, Ijsbrand Chardon of The Netherlands leads with 134.30,
Christoph Sandmann of Germany is second with 135.57 and Tomas Eriksson
of Sweden, the reigning World Champion, is third with 135.67.
Two U.S. drivers are next. Five-time U.S. Equestrian Team (USET)
Four-In-Hand champion Tucker Johnson of Hobe Sound, FL, driving a team
he co-owns with Mr. and Mrs. James L. Johnson, is in fourth place with a
score of 143.19. Chester Weber of Ocala, FL, driving his team, is
slightly behind in fifth, with 143.33. The other U.S. driver, reigning
USET Four-In-Hand champion James Fairclough of Newton, NJ, driving a
team owned by Jane Forbes Clark, is in twenty sixth position with a
score of 187.20.
The Marathon course was at the same location as the eventing cross
country with the jumps converted to obstacles for driving. The “Island”
obstacle with all its “splash” was a crowd pleaser, as was the obstacle
appropriately called the “Bull Ring”. One was almost surprised to see a
four-in-hand team come through instead of a bull.
Weber went first for the U.S. and was pleased with his trip around the
colorful course, although he thought it could have been better.
“It was OK, I tried my hardest, but it was not without fault,” said
Weber. “I had a little trouble at a couple of obstacles that surely
cost a few penalties. The challenge was the heat. The horses are all
fine now, but they were tired at the end.”
Fairclough was the next to go and he had a problem with the Island by
entering the gate backwards, which cost twenty penalties, but still felt
they put in a credible performance.
“Other than the one hazard, we were right there,” said Fairclough. “My
team was wonderful. Other than my mistake, the horses did really well.
We all owe some thanks to the USET for letting us train at Gladstone.”
Johnson, the final member of the U.S. squad, had an incident at “C” in
the sixth obstacle called “The Balcony”. His left wheel hit the post
and popped Johnson up out of the carriage. The grooms pulled Johnson
back in with the strap he was wearing, but Johnson landed badly and
bruised his rib cage.
“It was not the marathon I was dreaming of having in the World
Championship,” said Johnson. “It was a little disappointing with those
penalties and all the banging around, but the horses are fine. As a
nation we are going to put the pressure on the others tomorrow.”
The Four-In-Hand World Championship concludes on Saturday with the Cones
phase which will determine both the team and individual medals.
Comprehensive coverage of all World Equestrian Games competition is
available on the USET website at www.uset.org.
The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that
selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible
standard to represent our country in major international competition,
including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish
this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented
athletes – riders, drivers, vaulters and horses – and provides the
support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest
potential. For more information on the USET, please call (908)
234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.