Morgan, Cross, Schneider, and Zubek Maintain Lead after Competitive Marathon Phase at USEF Driving National Championships

United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Driving National Championship competition continued today with the marathon phase at Live Oak International CDE. Drivers across four championship divisions demonstrated their mettle through seven hazards on the marathon track designed by Gabor Fintha (HUN). In what was a hotly contested phase, the leaders from day one’s dressage phase were able to secure their spots on the top of the championship leaderboard.

Credit: Casey Zubek (Pics of You)

USEF Single Pony Driving National Championship
After a fifth-place finish in the dressage phase, Miranda Cadwell (Southern Pines, N.C.) was on a mission in the marathon, besting her competition at obstacles one, three, five, and six for a score of 81.23 and overall championship score of 138.77. Cadwell now sits in second heading into Sunday’s cones phase.

Continuing her quest for a ninth National Championship title, Tracey Morgan (Beallsville, Md.) maintained her championship lead, finishing a close second on 83.33, for a two-day total of 127.17.

“Fuego was fit and responsive today. The first hazard, the water, was very long and difficult, but he was strong and handled it well. At the gulch, which is one of the most intimidating obstacles we have in the sport worldwide, he was right where I needed him to be,” said Morgan of her 14-year-old German Riding Pony gelding. “Overall the course was a real test of fitness in this heat; it was very well designed and asked difficult questions of horse and driver. I am pleased with our performance. Going into tomorrow I am confident as we had a double-clear cones phase at our last FEI competition.”

USEF Pair Pony Driving National Championship
Katie Whaley (Paris, Ky.) once again proved herself as a master of the marathon phase, handily winning day two’s competition with the fastest division times at obstacles one, three, four, five and seven, finishing on 82.69 for a two day total of 135.30.

“The real challenge today was the heat. As for the hazards, the Stella Artois hazard (obstacle five), was a good one, it’s very symmetrical, I really rolled through that one, and the water was great,” said Whaley of the course. “As for tomorrow, I am a much better chaser than I am a leader and right now I am less than a ball away so that’s good for me.”

Next to go in the order, Amy Cross (Aiken, S.C.), the division leader after dressage, was not to be outdone, placing second behind Whaley on a 91.58 and ultimately maintaining her overall lead on a score of 134.40.

 “The course started off strong, but my guys were a little like bumper cars today instead of going as a real pair,” said Cross. “We got into trouble at the sixth obstacle and it cost us quite a few points. For tomorrow my focus is on accuracy and really paying attention in order to secure a clear round, we do not have any room for error.”

USEF Pony Teams Driving National Championship
As the sole participant without pressure competition, Heather Schneider (Palm City, Fla.), guided her team prudently through the marathon course. Finishing on a score of 157.08, Schneider heads into Sunday with a two-day total of 215.48.

USEF Pair Horse Driving National Championship
The standings remain unchanged on day two as Casey Zubek (Manhattan, Ill.) took the win in the marathon phase with a score of 107.53. Steve Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) continued to put the pressure on Zubek, finishing just three points behind on 110.87. Sunday will prove to be an exciting competition with the drivers separated by four points – Zubek on two-day total of 154.31 and Wilson on 158.59.

National Championship titles will be decided Sunday at the conclusion of the cones phase here at Live Oak International CDE.

Live Oak International combined driving and jumping competition will be broadcast live Sunday on the USEF Network, with the cones phase at 9:00am ET and the CSI2* at 2:00pm ET.

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