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Darren Chiacchia Takes Eventing Lead After Dressage at Fair Hill International

Source :  Fair Hill International

Darren Chicchia of Springville, NY moved into the lead of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship following the completion of the dressage phase at the Fair Hill International.

In the USA National Single Horse Driving Championship, Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT, individual Bronze Medalist at the 2002 World Singles Driving Championship, completed the dressage phase in first place.

Chiacchia moved ahead of Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor of The Plains, VA when he received a dressage score of 36.80 penalties on Windfall, a 10-year-old, black stallion owned by Dr. Timothy Holekamp. O’Connor, who led after Thursday’s opening round, now stands second with his score of 37.01 penalties on his Olympic Gold Medal mount, Custom Made, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Xandarius LLC. O’Connor also stands third on Texas Pride, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Claud Schoch of Bethesda, MD, with a score of 40.20.

“This is my second year together with Windfall and things are going very well,” said Chiacchia. “The first year with a horse is often a case of getting to know each other and we’ve gotten to the point where we have a real cooperation out on the course. This, of course, is doubly important when you’re dealing with a stallion.”

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.”

The eventing championship continues with the cross country phase on Saturday and then concludes with the 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.

The Fair Hill International’s driving competition began Friday with the dressage phase and Merriam took the lead in the USA National Single Horse Championship when he finished with a score of 39.67 driving his Bronze Medal World Championship horse, Gadwood Lightwing, owned by Nicholas Mercede. Standing second is Merriam’s World Championship teammate, Nancy Johnson of Lincoln, MA, who received a score of 41.00 with her Canequin’s Look Out.

Chester Weber of Ocala, FL drove his team to a dressage score of 46.40 to take the lead in the Four-In-Hand horse division. Jim Fairclough of Newton, NJ, driving a team owned by Jane Clark, was second with a score of 48.27. Weber and Fairclough were teammates on the USET’s Silver Medal World Championship team at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain in September.

In the Pairs division, Lisa Singer of Chadds Ford, PA, who earlier this month won the USET Pairs Championship for a record sixth time, took the lead with a score of 40.80 penalties driving her pair owned by Mimi Thorington. In second with a score of 48.80 is five-time USET Pairs Champion Larry Poulin of Boxford, MA driving a pair owned by Natasha Grigg.

In the pony competitions, Jack Wetzel of Aiken, SC took the lead in the Singles competition with a score of 44.00 with his pony, Harry. Sara Schmitt of Glen Gardner, NJ was second with a score of 51.67 with her pony, High Country Doc.

In the pony Pairs competition, Tracey Morgan of Beallsville, MD took the lead with a score of 54.93 driving the pair show co-owns with Susan Deutermann. She is followed by Muffy Seaton of Bluemont, VA who received a score of 55.20 with her pair. In the pony Four-In-Hand division, Katie Whaley of Southern Pines, NC scored 56.00 to take the lead with her team over Kelly Valdes of Unionville, PA who received a score of 58.93 with the team she drives that is owned by Claire Reed.

The Fair Hill driving competitions feature 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 with 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. Tickets are $12 a day on Saturday and Sunday. Children under 12 are admitted free.

The Fair Hill International will host the 2003 Pan American Eventing Championships as part of its eventing competition, October 23-26, 2003. The best eventing horses and riders from North and South America will compete for team and individual championships.

For full results and more information on the 2002 Fair Hill International, please call 410-398-2111 or visit www.fairhillinternational.com.

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