Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Driving

September 7, 2014 — He’s the number one-ranked four-in-hand driver in the world, but he’s not the world champion. The USA’s Chester Weber settled for silver, again, despite a victory in the dressage phase and a fault-free trip around the cones course today.

Chester Weber earned his third world championships silver medal in Normandy | Photo copyright 2014 by Nancy Jaffer

His undoing in the quest for the championship was yesterday’s marathon at the racecourse in the center of Caen, where he finished 12th.

“It was challenging out there. It was sort of like everything you could imagine was asked of you, from the most technical to really racing,” explained Chester, who drove a team owned by himself and Jane Clark.

The marathon drew 16,000 spectators to the racetrack in the heart of Caen | Photo copyright 2014 by Nancy Jaffer

“I had a little bit of trouble in the last obstacle with my right leader. I made the decision to give him 10 seconds rest before that, and I think that it just sort of took him off the bit a little bit, which was a mistake. In that A turn I think that 360 degree turn sort of shocked him a little bit, but that’s life.”

Chester’s third individual silver put him behind defending world champion Boyd Exell of Australia, whose combined dressage and marathon scores had him in the lead for the cones test. Like Chester and six other competitors, Boyd drove a clean round in the final phase, so he didn’t give up his placing. His score was 125.83 penalties, to Chester’s 126.60.

Australia’s Boyd Exell successfully defended his world championship title at the WEG, making it three in a row | Photo copyright 2014 by Nancy Jaffer

Even so, Chester said, “I was really pleased; I couldn’t ask for more. I was able to put the pressure on on the last day, and that is what sport is all about. I couldn’t be more pleased with my horses, and my entire team.”

European champion Theo Timermann of the Netherlands (133.88) took the bronze, edging his countryman, former multi-gold medalist Ijsbrand Chardon (134.38) while marathon winner Christoph Sandmann of Germany was fifth (139.70).

Several of the obstacles in the marathon, such as this half-timber little house, captured the atmosphere of France | Photo copyright 2014 by Nancy Jaffer

The U.S. squad, with its first female members — Alison Stroud and Misdee Wrigley Miller, finished a credible fourth on 298.48 penalties, and the women show a lot of promis for the future. The Dutch (263.19) took the title, followed by Germany (283.56) and Hungary (287.29), whose bronze medal was the first for the country at the WEG.