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Laurels At Landhope – Saturday

“If there was anything that had me worried, it was that we wouldn’t get the rain. I would have scratched. I was not going to sacrifice my “A” team to the ground,” said Lisa Stroud after completing the marathon phase of The Laurels at Landhope Combined Driving Event during pelting rain.

Stroud is competing for the Pony Four In Hand National Championship against Elizabeth Keathley, and has a substantial lead after the first two phases with a total score so far of 146.61 with Keathley scoring 191.39.

In spite of heavy rains and winds from hurricane Hanna, Stroud was pleased with the course designed by Jamie O’Rourke. “I really enjoyed the course today. I think the tracks held up pretty well. The hazards themselves I thought were flagged good. Last year it was flagged a little more open,” she said.

Overall, Stroud found the course to be more challenging than last year. “Last year it was flagged a little more open. It was appropriate questions for a national championship. If you got it right, it flowed like magic,” she said.

Sara Schmitt, who was in fourth place in the single pony class after dressage, won the marathon to move up to third in the standings with a combined total so far of 127.88. She and Miranda Cadwell with 126.86 are both within striking distance of leader Suzy Stafford.

Schmitt, who has the best time on three out of the eight hazards, did make a few changes to her normal plan to compensate for the weather. “I felt I had to (compete) because it is the National Championship,” she said. “I didn’t go across the bridge because I heard that Larry (Poulin’s) horse had fallen down, so I ran out through the water.”

Poulin was the defending champion in Advanced Pair Horses, and was moving rapidly through the first part of the course, but in addition to one of his horses slipping on the bridge of the water hazard, he found himself lost between hazards, missing the fifth, and was eliminated before completing the course.

Poulin had been close behind leader Lisa Singer after dressage. Singer was on course when Poulin retired, but that did not cause her to change her strategy. “When we came out of two we heard it. You still have Keady and Alan so you keep going,” Singer said. “The only thing I said we weren’t going over this flat bridge. Everything else we went the same.”

Singer’s times through the hazards were better than Alan Aulson’s but not as fast as Keady Cadwell who had the fastest time through five of the eight hazards for a marathon score of 82.73. That gave her a combined total of 133.80 to put her into the lead over Singer at 135.69.

“My horses are used to mud, but it’s hard on them, it takes a lot out of them,” Keady Cadwell said, noting that there were a few places that seemed slick. As for the hazards themselves, Cadwell thought the flagging slowed the lower level entries who do not complete as many gates in each hazard. “A, B, and C were difficult, then it opened up,” she said.

The Laurels at Landhope concludes Sunday with the cones competition with several other tight classes that could be easily won or lost on a single knockdown. In the intermediate Single Horse Class, Kimberly Stover leads by less than five points over Kate Shields, while in the Preliminary Single Pony class both Stacie Hoffman and Kristen Brunner are both within one knockdown of leader Janelle Marshall. In addition, one ball separates Meghan Benge from leader Boots Wright in the Preliminary Pair Pony class


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