Saturday, June 11, 2011

Driving: Vecses: WEBER WINS IN VECSES - by Cindy Timmer

Photo caption: Chester Weber (USA) won the dressage and stayed in the lead throughout the competition in Vecsés to claim the first CAIO victory of his career.
Please note that this picture is strictly for editorial use. (c) Marie de Ronde-Oudemans.

Vecsés (HUN), 5 June 2011

Chester Weber, the USA’s top four-in-hand driver, has won the international combined driving competition in Vecsés, Hungary this weekend. Weber took the lead in the dressage and held onto the top spot throughout the weekend. Dutch driver Koos de Ronde was runner-up, ahead of Vecsés-organizer József Dobrovitz, but it was the home side Hungary that won the nations competition, ahead of The Netherlands and Germany.

Birthday present
Chester Weber celebrated his 36th birthday on 3 June with the victory in the dressage competition at Vecsés. The five O-judges, chaired by Dr Franz-Josef Vetter from Germany, were impressed and unanimously awarded Weber’s test first place. Chester used Jane F. Clark’ s two KWPN-geldings Uniek and Splash, which previously formed the pair of US pair driver Keady Cadwell. Before the dressage, Chester had some discussions with his trainer Michael Freund about whether or not to use the new horses at Vecsés, but Chester decided he had to try them somewhere. Chester got his way, the team went beautifully and put down a fantastic performance. József Dobrovitz came second in the dressage, ahead of Zoltán Lázár.

Marathon heat
The marathon was won by Werner Ulrich of Switzerland. Ulrich drove his team of three Lusitanian horses and a Swiss-bred gelding very fast through the eight difficult obstacles, designed by Gabor Fintha from Hungary. The thermometer at the start of the marathon indicated no less than 39 degrees Celsius, but the Portuguese Lusitanian horses proved that they are used to the heat and took Ulrich into first place. Koos de Ronde had to take an extra loop in the last obstacle which cost him precious seconds and the victory in this exciting phase. Zoltán Lázár finished third in the marathon. Weber was further down the order in sixth, but still held onto the overall lead going into the cones.

Exciting cones competition
József Dobrovitz, in third place after dressage and marathon, was the first to drive a double clear round in the arena today. Dobrovitz put the pressure on De Ronde, but the team gold medallist from the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky kept his head cool despite the heat and crossed the finish line with a double clear round as well. Chester Weber was four penalty points ahead of De Ronde but showed his confidence in his very good cones team and equalled ‘Dobro’s’ and De Ronde’s clear rounds. Weber has been the USEF four-in-hand champion eight times, but this was his first CAIO win in his very successful career so far. Weber will compete at several shows in Europe this summer and hopes to qualify for the FEI World Cup Driving™ season 2011-2012.

Family business
The Hungarian team in Vecsés was made up of Hungary’s top four-in-hand drivers - Zoltán Lázár, József Dobrovitz and Dobrovitz’ 18-year-old son József Dobrovitz junior., who celebrates his 19th birthday tomorrow, 6 June. Dobrovitz junior has been competing with a pony four-in-hand for several years and recently made his debut in the horse teams class. Father and son hope to be on the Hungarian team for Aachen 2011. Dobrovitz junior has another goal this year and is bidding to qualify his pony team for the FEI World Driving Championships 2011 - Combined Ponies in September in Lipica, Slovenia.

Chester Weber (USA): “I am happy that I used Uniek and Splash. I have some cleaning up to do, but they will be ready by Aachen. The marathon was very heavy and I was surrounded by the best marathon drivers of the world, so I was happy to come sixth in the marathon! It was a true marathon driver show and I am proud that I set the fastest time in the sixth obstacle. The obstacle driving competition went very well for me. It is probably the easiest cones team I have ever driven.”

Koos de Ronde (NED): “I had a slight disadvantage in the dressage being the first starter, but my team went much better than in Windsor three weeks ago. I used a new horse for the first time, the seven-year-old Palero. It was his first competition in my team and he did very well. I used him in the wheel in dressage and cones and he was in the lead of my team in the marathon.”

Individual results CAIO Vecsés (HUN) 2-5 June 2011:

Chester Weber (USA) 145.51
Koos de Ronde (NED) 149.63
József Dobrovitz (HUN) 150.22
Zoltán Lázár (HUN) 151.70
Werner Ulrich (SUI) 152.08

Team results CAIO Vecsés (HUN) 2-5 June 2011:

Hungary 301.92
The Netherlands 320.46
Germany 369.63

Standings FEI World Cup qualification after 4 of 14 competitions:

1       Koos de Ronde                 NED    35

2       Zoltán Lázár                     HUN    33

3       József Dobrovitz               HUN    28

3       Werner Ulrich                    SUI     28

5       Chester Weber                 USA    25

6       Boyd Exell                        AUS    20

7       Herman ter Harmsel          NED    19

8       Jozsef Scheik                   HUN    17

8       IJsbrand Chardon             NED    17

10     Tomas Eriksson                SWE    16

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