U.S. Storms to Bronze Medal with Weber Claiming Individual Silver at FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships

by Helen Murray

The United States travelled to Reisenbeck, Germany with their sights firmly set-on capturing Team and Individual honors at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships.

Team Medal Winners on the Podium at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championship (Rinaldo de Craen/FEI)
Individual Medalists at the 2012 FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships (Rinaldo de Craen/FEI)

And they did just that.

The U.S. team of Chester Weber, Jimmy Fairclough, and Joe Yoder was a mixture of youth and experience but proved to be a formidable group as they stormed to the Team Bronze. Additionally, Weber added to his medal haul as he clinched the Individual Silver.

Heading into the cones phase the U.S., standing fourth, was within striking distance of a podium finish, just seven points behind Sweden. Led by the experience of Weber and Fairclough, who were members of U.S. Silver medal winning teams at the World Championships in 2002 and 2010, the U.S. capitalized on the mistakes of Sweden. They were able edge the Swedish by 2/10s of a point finishing on an overall score of 289.11; claiming third place honors.

“I am thrilled. Everyone is quite excited here,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Ed Young. “I’m over the moon; everything went extremely well today.”

Weber (Ocala, FL) headed into the final phase standing in second place overnight on a score of 127.80. Driving his own Boy W, Para, and Jane Clark’s Splash and Uniek, he drove a near flawless cones course adding just three points to his score.

The success in Reisenbeck was the second time Weber has claimed Individual honors at a World Championship, in 2008 he also claimed the Silver Individual medal at the FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships in Beesd, The Netherlands.

Weber, an eight-time USEF National Champion, prepared diligently for the 2012 World Championship spending much of the summer competing and training in Europe. All the hard work paid-off as he claimed Team and Individual honors for the first time in his illustrious career.

Fairclough (Newtown, NJ) has been a longstanding member of the U.S. Driving Team and has played a vital part in the U.S. claiming its three Team World Championship medals in the past 10 years. On Sunday, he drove his own Levin, Charlie Brown, and Kavango von Falkenstein as well as Patsy Wooten’s Valentino to a fourth place cones finish with a score of 1.29.

He finished on an overall score of 158.3 in 14th place. His strong final phase allowed for Fairclough to rise from 16th following the marathon and claim his spot among the top 15 Four-in-Hand drivers in the world.

Yoder (Zwartewaal, The Netherlands) was making his debut at an FEI Four-in-Hand Driving World Championships in Reisenbeck and gained valuable experience. On Sunday he drove to a 35.23 cones score with the de Ronde’s Caletta, Majoor and Ruby as well as Misdee Wrigley Miller’s Sarasko. He finished on an overall score of 242.82 for 43rd place.

In the Team Championship, the Dutch repeated as World Champions finishing on a score of 256.17, with the Germans claiming Silver finishing on 271.18. Australia’s Boyd Exell also retained his World Champion status on an overall score of 122.01. Finishing behind Weber and earning Bronze was The Netherlands’ IJsbrand Chardon with a score of 131.29.

The U.S. Driving Team next heads to Lezirias, Portugal for the FEI World Championship for Singles September 9-16, 2012.

“I hope we can repeat this great success next month at the Singles,” said Young.