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Thousands Attend Marathon Day Of The Laurels At Landhope International Combined Driving Event

West Grove, PA—September 6, 2003— Thousands of spectators were on hand at the Laurels at Landhope Combined Driving Event to watch the exciting Marathon phase at Landhope Farm in West Grove, PA, on Saturday.

World-class drivers and horses from the United States and Canada negotiated a challenging course designed by World Championship course designer Harry Buurman of the Netherlands. The obstacles looked and sounded pleasant with names like Loch Laurel, Gaebel Steeplechase and Garnet Garden, but they presented a true test with tight turns, water, hills and bridges that affected the standings for some, but most were able to keep their lead.

Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT, almost lost his lead in the Advanced Single Horse Division finishing third in the Marathon, but was able to stay on top by just .29 of a penalty with an overall score of 100.07. Scott Monroe of Sharon, CT is a close second with 100.36. Merriam was pleased with the course and the day.

“The course was awesome,” said Merriam. “We all had fun with it. It’s fantastic to compete here because all of the drivers here are top notch. I want to thank the Laurels for putting on such a great event.”

In other Advanced Divisions, Chester Weber of Ocala, FL maintained his overall lead in the Advanced Multiple Horse Division winning the marathon and receiving a score of 124.17 penalties. In the Advanced Pair Horses, Eleanor Gallagher of Southern Pines, NC took over the lead even with a second place marathon run scoring 137.10 overall. Tracey Morgan of Beallsville, MD easily maintained the top spot in Advanced Pair Pony with 117.74 and in the Advanced Single Pony Division, Jack Wetzel of Aiken, SC finished seventh in the marathon, but stayed first overall with 113.09 penalties.

In the Preliminary Divisions, almost all of the drivers maintained their lead. Scott Adcox of Mendenhall, PA, stayed on top in the Preliminary Single Horse “A” Division with a second place marathon and a combined score of 92.94 penalties. Rochelle Temple of Powhatan, VA, leads the “B” Division scoring 107.57 overall and a third place marathon finish. Ellen Epstein of Newtown, PA also stayed in first in the Preliminary Pair Horse Division with 113.90 and a runner-up placing in the marathon. The leader once again of the Preliminary Single Pony “A” Division is Suzy Stafford of Bear, DE with a fourth in the marathon and an overall score of 94.30. The “B” Division is also unchanged with Leslie Grieve of Southern Pines, NC maintaining the lead and finishing second in the marathon with a combined score of 104.95 penalties. The only change in the Preliminary Division was the leader of the Preliminary Pair Pony. Joan McGurren won the marathon and took over the top spot with an overall score of 102.77. Claire Reid in the Preliminary Multiple Pony scored 163.21.

The Laurels culminates on Sunday with the Cones phase where the drivers and horses present a beautiful picture as they negotiate a pattern scattered with traffic cones. Penalties come easy and a win is on the line, so tension is high, but extremely enjoyable to watch.

One of the titles that the competitors will be vying for at the Laurels is the prestigious Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) North American Top Driver Award. Additionally, drivers have the opportunity to win the 2003 USA Equestrian Pony Championships, the Martin Auctioneer/Kuhnle Carriage North American Single Horse Challenge, the FEI North American Single Driving Challenge and the Laurels serves as a United States Equestrian Team (USET) Selection Trial for World Championship teams.

The Laurels is great way for the entire family to spend a Sunday with entertaining events such as the AKC Tail Blazer’s Fall Dog Agility Trials, performances by the Barbone Street Jazz Band and fabulous boutique shopping.

The Laurels at Landhope Autumn Celebration benefits the Brandywine Conservancy, the Cheshire Hunt Conservancy, the Large Animal Protection Society and the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center. Located on Wood View Road in West Grove only one-mile from Rt. 1 and Rt. 41 this family event has free admission with parking fees of $10 per car per day.

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