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David O’Connor Takes Eventing Lead On First Day at Fair Hill International

Source :  Fair Hill International

Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor of The Plains, VA holds the lead half-way through the dressage phase of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship at the Fair Hill International.

O’Connor took the lead in Thursday’s opening round when he received a score of 37.01 penalties on his Gold Medal mount, Custom Made, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Xandarius LLC. O’Connor has announced that this year’s Fair Hill International is Custom Made’s final competition and O’Connor is hoping that he can repeat the dramatic farewell appearance of one of his earlier successful mounts, Wilton Fair, whom O’Connor rode to the Fair Hill Championship in the horse’s final appearance in 1993.

“It would be great to have the same thing happen with Custom Made, but we’ve got a lot to do before that happens,” said O’Connor who won last year’s USET Fall Championship at Fair Hill on The Native. “We gave it a lot of thought before deciding to compete him here, but we thought it would be a real nice way to end his three-day career.”

Standing second is Vicki Baker of Rougemont, NC who scored 41.40 on Reggae Mon, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred owned by the Baker Family. Baker rode third in the morning and took an early lead in the competition.

“I was so excited after my score was announced,” Baker said. “My horse wasn’t real happy when I got on him at 7:30 this morning, but he has a great work ethic and he sure did everything I could have asked of him.”

O’Connor’s student, William S. Coleman III of Gordonsville, VA, is third after receiving a score of 41.80 penalties on Second Hope, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred cross owned by Tivoli Farm. “William is just an incredible rider,” O’Connor said of Coleman who won the individual Gold Medal at the 2001 North American Young Riders Championships. “It’s no surprise to see him do this well.”

The eventing championship continues with the second half of the dressage phase on Friday, followed by the cross country phase on Saturday and the concluding stadium jumping phase on Sunday.

This year’s Fair Hill International has 78 eventing entries, with riders representing Australia, Belgium, Canada, Pakistan, The Netherlands, and the United States.

Fair Hill’s driving competition begins Friday with the dressage phase. The driving competitions are highlighted by the USA National Single Horse Championship and the final legs of both the FEI North American Driving Challenge and the Triple Crown of Combined Driving, presented by Driving Essentials/Glinkowski Carriages. Driving competition will continue with the cones competition on Saturday and will then culminate the marathon on Sunday.

Country Shops, fine and casual dining, dog agility competition and entertainment add to the fun, making the Fair Hill International a family-friendly fall outing with something for everyone.

Special thanks go to the Fair Hill International sponsors - American Home & Hardware, Artesian Water Company, Bit of Britain, Cosequin / Nutramax Labs, County Banking & Trust Company, Dansko, First Union National Bank, General Mills, Inc., Glenmede Trust, Intervet, Nowpac, Inc., Scudder Financial Services, Sentman Distributors, Southern States / Agway, The National Bank of Rising Sun, Thornhill Enterprises, Thoroughbred Charities of America, Ltd.

Rain or shine, gates are open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are $10 a day on Thursday and Friday and $12 a day on Saturday and Sunday, or $35 for all four days. Children under 12 are admitted free.

For full results and more information on the Fair Hill International, please call 410-398-2111 or visit www.fairhillinternational.com.

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