Chester Weber of the USA is in gold medal position after winning the dressage phase of the 2006 World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships being held at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Weber, driving his fabulous bay Dutch Warmblood four-in-hand scored 38.78 pen in dressage on the second day and, along with team-mate, Tucker Johnson who scored 43.26 in fifth place, put the USA in gold medal position in the nations team competition, ahead of Belgium in silver and hosts Germany in bronze.

Although pleased with first in dressage, Weber, 30, from Ocala in Florida, complained that his preparation had been hampered by conditions in the warm-up areas. “I had to train my horses all week on the roads around the stables,” commented Weber, ”The warm-up area was more like cross-country – not great for my horses.”

Second to go in the starting order on the cross-country marathon tomorrow (Friday) Weber, who was team silver medallist at the last WEG in Spain four years ago, is determined to hold on to the lead. “I went early in the order at Jerez in 2002 and was fourth on the marathon so it seems to work for me,” pointed out Weber. ”We are going out to win the marathon tomorrow.”

Pre-WEG favourites, Ysbrand Chardon of the Netherlands went into silver medal position on a score of 41.22 ahead of Germany’s Michael Freund in the bronze on 41.60. Felix Brasseur of Belgium was 4th on 41.86.

Britain’s George Bowman drove a brilliant dressage with his young black Dutch Hackney/Warmbloods and earned a score of 50.30 pens, which puts him in 9th place individually. George, 72, who is competing in his record-breaking 16th world championships, got a deservedly warm reception from the thousands of driving fans watching the dressage and an ovation at the end of his test.

The cross-country marathon starts at 9.00am tomorrow. After the scheduling misshap that marred her warm-up and contributed to a disappointing dressage, Karen Bassett is the first of the British drivers to tackle the marathon in the morning. George Bowman goes off at midday with Dick Lane last to drive in the afternoon toward the end of the order.

Read the driving reports in full in next week’s Horse & Hound (7 September)