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David O’Connor Wins USET Eventing Championship at Fair Hill International
Fred Merriam Wins USA National Single Horse Driving Championship
Lisa Singer Emerges as Triple Crown of Driving Champion

FAIR HILL, MD—October 27, 2002— Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor of The Plains, VA rode Custom Made to a fairytale finish to the horse’s illustrious career as he won the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship at the Fair Hill International in Custom Made’s final competition.

Meanwhile, Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT, individual Bronze Medalist at the 2002 World Singles Driving Championship, won the concluding marathon phase to clinch the win in the USA National Single Horse Driving Championship.

O’Connor had announced that this year’s Fair Hill International would be the final competition for his Olympic Gold Medal mount, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Xandarius LLC. After finishing Saturday’s cross country with a two-phase total of 44.61 penalties, O’Connor finished Sunday’s concluding stadium jumping phase with four penalties and a three-phase score of 48.61 for an improbable repeat of 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.

“This was really an amazing weekend for me,” said O’Connor who won the Championship last year on The Native. “It’s been a storybook career with Custom Made and all I really wanted was for him to have a great weekend and go out in good form. The fact that it happened like this is a dream. For us to win, well, I was lucky enough to have it happen with Wilton Fair, to have it happen again is way more than I had any right to hope for.”

Finishing second for the second straight year was two-time Australian Olympic team Gold Medalist Phillip Dutton who had only two time penalties to finish with a score of 51.60 on Dusky Moon, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred. Third place went to Dutton’s student, Heidi White of Unionville, PA, who had four penalties to finish with a score of 52.41 on Northern Spy, her 9-year-old English Thoroughbred.

“He was great today,” White said. “The rail was my fault; we got a little anxious. I couldn’t be happier with how he jumped.”

The Fair Hill International’s driving competition was run under an unusual format with the cones phase held before the marathon. Merriam won the USA National Single Horse Championship when he finished with a three-phase score of 116.06 driving his Bronze Medal World Championship horse, Gadwood Lightwing, owned by Nicholas Mercede. Merriam’s World Championship teammate, Nancy Johnson of Lincoln, MA, finished in second place with a three-phase score of 122.38 with her Canequin’s Look Out.

“I can’t say that I really targeted this or focused on winning the National Championship,” said Merriam. “All I’ve wanted to do was bring the horse along and have him do well. We’ve had a very good two years and this is really the icing on the cake.”

In the Pairs division, Lisa Singer of Chadds Ford, PA, who started October with a record sixth win in the USET Pairs Championship, earned the win with a score of 143.94 penalties driving her pair owned by Mimi Thorington. Singer’s win also clinched her a record third title in the Triple Crown of Combined Driving, presented by Driving Essentials/Glinkowski Carriages. Singer previously won the Triple Crown title, which includes the competitions at The Laurels at Landhope, the Gladstone Driving Event and the Fair Hill International, in 1996 and 1997.

Narrowly finishing second with a score of 144.84 was five-time USET Pairs Champion Larry Poulin of Boxford, MA driving a pair owned by Natasha Grigg.

Jim Fairclough of Newton, NJ, driving a team owned by Jane Clark, won the Four-In-Hand horse division for the second straight year with a score of 172.92. Chester Weber of Ocala, FL was second with a score of 175.08 with his team. 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.

This year’s pony competitions at Fair Hill had added meaning as drivers eyed a chance to compete in the first-ever Pony Driving World Championships in 2003. Miranda Cadwell of Southern Pines, NC claimed the win in Singles with a three-phase score of 142.86 driving Red Robo, owned by Kate Rivers. Nancy Taylor Rojo of Roxboro, NC won the concluding marathon phase and finished second overall with a score of 150.91 driving her pony, Sir Lane-A-Lect.

“My horse is 21 years old but I think he’s got what it takes to do well in a World Championship,” Cadwell said. “I would love to have the chance.”

In the pony Pairs competition, Tracey Morgan of Beallsville, MD completed a sweep, winning all three phases to finish first overall with a score of 138.88 driving the pair she co-owns with Susan Deutermann. She was followed by Muffy Seaton of Bluemont, VA who had a score of 149.84 with her pair.

In the pony Four-In-Hand division, Katie Whaley of Southern Pines, NC won with a score of 207.85 with her team. Second was Kelly Valdes of Unionville, PA who had a score of 217.55 with the team she drives that is owned by Claire Reed.

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.

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 more information about Fair Hill International, please call (410) 398-2111 or visit


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