Articles: Press Release
Madden Does It Again, Retains Lead in Show Jumping at 2006 WEG
Fairclough Posts Score in First Day of Driving Competition
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2006
It's double duty again at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen,
Germany, as two disciplines play out simultaneously - one of them in the
Main Stadium (show jumping) and the other having its first-day opener in
Stadium 2 (four-in-hand driving). Both of the disciplines have fans
running back and forth to take in the action.
In show jumping, it's day one of a two-day Nations' Cup that will decide
the team medals. Some 114 riders went around the course today, with
hopes of moving their teams along toward a medal. Some of these riders
are classified as "individuals," thereby competing to make it to the top
25 who will ride in Saturday's third round of show jumping, which will
decide the final four riders who will vie for the Gold on Sunday.
Today, six more horses were eliminated, and one retired.
Some might wonder why the team medals are so important in a sport that
seems highly geared to the individual rider. There's a good answer.
Countries must excel and win at the team level to qualify for berths in
Olympic competition in 2006, and the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games are
a qualifying event for the team competition in not only show jumping,
but dressage and eventing, as well. With both the dressage and eventing
competitions complete (and with the U.S. qualifying for Olympic
competition in both disciplines), it's on to show jumping to make their
claim to an Olympic invitation. (The full procedures for this are found
on the FEI website at www.horsesport.org.)
On Wednesday, the riders faced a new 17-effort course (14 obstacles)
consisting of some very tricky spots, with higher fences, including a
double and triple combination. As has been the norm, cool and windy
conditions met the challengers.
Leading the pack going into today's round were Team USA's Beezie Madden
and Authentic on a base score of 0.0. She repeated her performance and,
again, stood in front of all the others with the end of round one of the
Nations' Cup. Madden and Authentic still stand on a score of 0.0.
As the last of the Americans to compete (at 113th out of 114 riders),
she had to wait a long time, but this gave her plenty of time to study
the mistakes of those before her.
"I had the advantage that I can go at the end, so I had a lot to watch,
and that's nice," she said. "But, there are a lot of riders, and it's a
long time to wait around. Today, I have to say, was a little easier
than yesterday because yesterday I knew my horse was good, and it's
always nice to get the first day over with. I have a lot more
confidence now after the first day."
Asked about today's course, Madden said, "It felt a little bit bigger.
Technical, again, we had the plank at the end, we had the triple
combination that was a little bit tricky, the short double in the
beginning to the Liverpool. There was just a lot of test in there. I
thought it was very good - excellent."
Leading two days in a row, Madden was asked if she has a trick or method
she uses to keep herself focused, to not lose her concentration.
"I try to take each class separately," she said. "Yesterday, I knew we
needed a great score, so I just took it as a class that I wanted to try
to win. Today and tomorrow, I look at it as one class with two clear
rounds to win...what the team needs is for you to have a good score. You
really have to look at it a little bit selfishly even though you are
hoping for the team medal. That selfishness can help the team."
Of her teammates, she had high praise and said they have been enjoying
each others company, dining together at night and psyching each other up
"This team has been fantastic," she said. "Any kind of good atmosphere
is a help, so we end up doing things together, and we are behind each
other 100% whether somebody has a little bad luck or little
mistakes...we're all in it for the same reason, and we're all trying the
hardest we can and we all respect each other for that, so it's a really
The Team on Course
Chef d'equipe George Morris was candid about his team's work over the
"From our perspective, we really had three faults that were just blips,
little mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes," he said. "We really
could have, or should have, had four clears. I'm going to insist on
that tomorrow [Thursday night, round two of the Nations' Cup under the
First up for the Americans was yesterday's lowest-placed American rider,
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold. Anyone that knows Engle
can agree that posting 16 faults is uncharacteristic. She proved to
have a much more satisfying round during the first of the two-day
Nations' Cup downing only one rail.
"It was my rail, and not his," she said of the four-point penalty the
pair picked up at an oxer (obstacle 10). "He felt great, but I got
worried about the time. He almost got across it, but he got sprawled
She admitted that speed is not Quervo Gold's forte, rather the horse's
scope and ability at clearing water jumps are his strong points.
"He's really not a speed horse," she continued. "But, he's one of the
best water jumpers I've had. If I can get him into a rhythm, I could
jump all day long," she said.
That downed rail left Engle with an adjusted score of 16.07 to seat her
at 57th place going into day-two of the Nations' Cup.
Second for the Americans were Laura Kraut and Miss Independent, who
downed a rail at 9c for four faults ending the day's work at 42nd place
on an adjusted score of 9.98.
"She felt super, and I felt her hold her legs up and she was just
squeezing every inch out of it," said Kraut regarding the downed rail
and her mare's efforts on the triple combination at obstacle 9c. "She
jumped in so big at A, she made the two strides very short, and so
again, she jumped high over B and it was almost extra long in the one
[stride to fence C]. I heard the crowd say, "Aww!" but I didn't even
hear her really hit it."
Kraut slowed up just a bit after the ditch, knowing she was well ahead
of her mark on course. She wanted to make certain that she downed no
further rails, acknowledging the importance of every single point at
this stage in the game.
"OK, it's the World Championships, the verticals are very big" she said,
"I mean, the last plank is as big as I am! It's big." When told
exactly how high the jump was (1.62 meters), Kraut said jokingly, "I'm
glad I found that out now!"
In the end, she said she couldn't have been more pleased with her
horse's round and heads into Thursday's round two of the Nations' Cup,
which takes place at night (from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. German time). In
fact, Kraut took her horse to San Patrigiano just a month ago where both
nights of the competition were under lights to get a feeling of how she
"I'm really glad I did," said Kraut. "She was really good, so I have a
lot of confidence going in to tomorrow night."
Up third and ready to duplicate the beautiful round from yesterday was
McLain Ward and Sapphire. In fact, chef d'equipe George Morris gave Ward
a glowing review for his initial efforts. Today, Ward downed his first
WEG rail and accumulated four faults. At the end of the day, he moved
down 10 places to finish his work on day one of the two-day Nations' Cup
at 14th place with an adjusted score of 4.87.
The Team Competition
In the team competition, the United States sits at third going into the
last day of the Nations' Cup. Chef d'equipe Morris had some thoughts on
the team sitting at second - the Ukraine.
"It's not so surprising, because they have a couple of riders that are
from Belgium that are outstanding, and a couple from Germany that are
outstanding," he said candidly. He also said he had expected a better
showing from the French team and was surprise they were not nearer the
top of the placings.
The Netherlands remains in the top team spot on a score of 7.01, with
the Ukraine behind them with 13.17 points. Team USA stands third with
14.85, just ahead of Germany with 15.16.
There were some other interesting developments over the day at Aachen.
Rodrigo Pessoa chose to withdraw from competition due to an injury
sustained to his horse while they were jumping a one-meter schooling
fence. The horse tore its meniscus in his stifle.
Also, there were some late changes to Thursday night's show jumping
course. Previously, there had been plans for a Liverpool on course.
But, that has been removed as there was some speculation that the bright
lights of the Main Stadium might cause distracting glares that would
distract the horses on course. Thankfully, to not take unnecessary
risks, the organizers decided to remove the water jump in favor of
Half-way through the Nations' Cup, and with only three more days of show
jumping to contest, it's America's Beezie Madden aboard Authentic
leading the pack at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games. It is
interesting to note that there has only been one woman to take show
jumping's Rolex World Championship - ever. Some 20 years ago, in 1986,
it was Canada's Gail Greenough who took the honors aboard Mr. T.
Driving: Opening Day
If you hear a series of strange sounds, clucks and shouts, you must be
near the driving competition. Drivers are known for their voice cues,
though frowned upon in most disciplines, drivers are unable to use their
seats, legs or weight as aids, so the voice commands are relied upon
heavily and commonly heard. Today was day one of a two-day driving
The driving competition will take place over the next four days.
Wednesday and Thursday will test the drivers in the dressage
competition, 11 minutes that could make or break them. Friday, the
drivers will participate in the marathon competition which will take
place over a 17-kilometer course, consisting of eight marathon obstacles
grouped closely together. Saturday will decide the team and individual
honors after the 600-meter-long obstacle course, consisting of 20
obstacles and 26 passages.
There are currently 49 drivers from 19 countries taking place in the
driving competition. The U.S. has a full team of three drivers
competing: Chester Weber of Ocala, Florida; Tucker Johnson of Hobe
Sound, Florida; and James Fairclough of Newton, New Jersey. The best
two scores from the three team members will count toward the combined
team score for the event. This team earned a Bronze medal in Spain at
the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in addition to an individual Bronze
Today's dressage competition saw only one American-Fairclough-who drove
his team to a score of 61.44 or 61.6% overall. These penalty points are
carried over to the next competition. Fairclough commented on the
condition of the arena after sand had to be placed in the grass to keep
horses from slipping and tearing up the grass further.
"For your leaders to be able to show off, your wheelers have to do the
majority of the work and pull the carriage," said Fairclough. "You're
asking them to move, stay round and help create your impulsion and the
forward part of the test, and with them struggling with pulling the
carriage through the heavy footing it makes it difficult. When the
leaders start helping to pull, then you lose the movement. I think
you'll see that the older type horses, the bigger/heavier horses-the
seasoned type horses are going to be used to the heavy footing and do a
little better here."
Fairclough plans to change his team around a bit for the next phase,
putting the two young horses in the lead, bringing one of today's
leaders into the wheel, and putting the fifth horse in.
Thinking ahead to the marathon competition on Friday, Fairclough said,
"It'll be very challenging. If the weather stays like this, it's going
to be a true endurance test because it's going to be very heavy for them
pulling that marathon carriage around. The marathon carriage weighs
1,320 pounds without anybody on it. So, now you have that cutting
through the sod then it's going to be heavy."
Aachen has the honor of being the official home of combined driving so
this World Equestrian Games, which is also the 2006 World Four-in-Hand
Driving Championship, has special meaning to all involved. In addition,
there will be no fewer than six previous individual Gold medalists
present to contest the medals. Driving is a very traditional sport and
may also see the most mature athletes. Representing Great Britain will
be a 22-year-old Trakhener and a 73-year-old driver.
The countries that will be competing against the U.S. in the team
competing are The Netherlands Antilles, Austria, Belgium, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Spain, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, The
Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Additionally,
the countries of Ireland, Poland and Australia are represented by one
Today's leader, with the other half of drivers competing tomorrow, was
Gert Schrijvers of Belgium with a score of penalty points of 46.21 and a
score of 71.1%.
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