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Mt.Airy-based pair takes lead in combined driving event


FAIR HILL -- Two horses owned by Bob Cook of Mount Airy and driven by Bill Lower of Free Union, Va., yesterday took the lead after the first day of competition in the Fair Hill International combined driving event.

Cook's team, which until recently he had driven himself, scored highest of 20 starters in the dressage phase of the advanced pair division. In second place was Tucker Johnson, current national pairs champion from Oldwick, N.J.

The competition is a qualifying event for the 1993 world championships, which will be held for the first time in the United States next October.

Former world champion Udo Hochgeschurz of Canada, driving a new team of horses, was tied for 10th place after the initial dressage phase. Dressage is comparable with the compulsory figures competition in ice skating.

Today the horses go cross country in the far different rough-and-tumble marathon division, encountering eight hazards on a 5.7-mile course.

Judges for the driving portion of the event are Enno George of Germany, Martha-Hanks Nicoll and Larry Poulin, four-time U.S. national pairs driving champion.

In the equestrian three-day event, former U.S. Olympic team member Torrance Watkins was in the lead after the first day, posting the best dressage score aboard Lou Llewellyn, a horse who has been competing in England.

Second place was held by Peter Green, a former trainer on the Maryland thoroughbred racing circuit who now lives in Upperville, Va. Third of the 27 starters was Gayle Molander of Upperco.

The second part of the equine triathlon starts at 8 a.m. today with the marathon driving event. The speed and endurance phase of the equestrian three-day competition is scheduled to begin at noon.

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