By US Equestrian Communications Department
Paris, Ky. – The Kentucky Classic Combined Driving Event concluded on Sunday with the cones phase at the picturesque Hillcroft Farm. A small but mighty field contested the USEF Advanced Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship, and Jacob Arnold took home his second consecutive title.
Arnold (Goshen, Ky.) drove Steve Wilson’s KWPN and Lipizzaner pair, which consisted of seasoned veterans and a talented newcomer. Despite some uncertainty of how the event would unfold with the mixed pair, Arnold led the competition from start to finish. He and the pair scored 49.89 in the dressage phase to begin the national championship quest and win the first phase.
“I was really pleased with the dressage phase,” said Arnold. “The new horse that we have is named Kenji V and he is a six year old. This was only his second FEI competition, actually only the second competition of his career. I was really pleased to bring him out and get a score under 50. There is plenty of room for improvement, but I was still very pleased with Kenji V and Endorro.”
Arnold used a different pairing in the marathon phase over Marc Johnson’s course. It was another winning combination as they finished first in the phase with a score of 96.77.
“I again used Kenji V with Pluto Revans, an older seasoned horse. We went out planning to make it a smooth nice round for the horses; we didn’t want to push anything,” explained Arnold. “It had rained the day before so we were dealing with some adverse conditions, and our goal was to go through smoothly without a major mistake. We managed to accomplish that and we are pleased to have won the phase as well.”
A challenging cones course posed the final obstacle for the national championship field. Arnold and his pair had a strong round, tallying 13.02 and winning the final phase and overall title.
“It was probably one of the harder courses I have seen all year,” said Arnold. “With having a young horse in and not necessarily our A team for this competition, I was a little bit nervous going in. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to have in the tight, difficult elements, but as the horse has proven to me every day so far this week, [Kenji V] is nothing but a superstar and I am really looking forward to his future.”
Arnold thanked Steve Wilson for the opportunity of driving his horse; his fiancée Mary Sheerin; and Misdee Wrigley Miller, James Miller, and their team for hosting the competition at Hillcroft Farm.
James Miller (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) clinched the reserve champion title with an overall score of 186.74. He and the KWPN pair, owned by James Miller and Misdee Wrigley Miller, started with a dressage score of 53.33 followed by a score of 101.60 in the marathon phase. They closed out the competition with a cones score of 29.81.
Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.) earned a third-place finish with an overall score of 197.17. He and Harmony Sporthorses’ pair scored 59.88 in the dressage phase and collected 98.76 in the marathon phase. Maye and his horses finished the cones phase with a score of 38.53.
Bob Burrows (Windsor, S.C.) finished in fourth place on an overall score of 273.57. He and his Friesian cross pair had a dressage score of 71.75 and tallied a score of 166.02 in the marathon phase. They finished the competition with a cones score of 35.80.