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David O’Connor Leads USET Eventing Championship at Fair Hill International
Fred Merriam Leads USA National Single Horse Driving Championship

FAIR HILL, MD—October 26, 2002— Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist David O’Connor of The Plains, VA rode Custom Made one step closer to a fairytale finish to his horse’s illustrious career as he moved back into the lead in the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship at the Fair Hill International.

Meanwhile, Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT, individual Bronze Medalist at the 2002 World Singles Driving Championship, drove a clean cones course to maintain his lead in the USA National Single Horse Driving Championship.

O’Connor has announced that this year’s Fair Hill International is the final competition for his Olympic Gold Medal mount, a 17-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Xandarius LLC. Finishing Saturday’s cross country with a two-phase total of 44.61 penalties, O’Connor is one day away from 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 is really an amazing weekend for me,” he said. “It’s been a storybook book 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’s happening like this is a dream. For us to have a chance to win, well, I was lucky enough to have it happen with Wilton Fair, to have it happen again is way more than I have any right to hope for.”

Standing second with 46.80 penalties after riding penalty-free on cross country is 21-year-old Will Faudree of West Grove, PA and Antigua, his family’s 13-year-old Australian Thoroughbred. Close behind is Heidi White of Unionville, PA who also went clean on cross country and has a score of 48.41 on Northern Spy, her 9-year-old English Thoroughbred. Faudree and White, the only two to make the time on Saturday, are both trained by two-time Australian Olympic team Gold Medalist Phillip Dutton who is fourth with a score of 49.60 on Dusky Moon, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred.

“He jumped every jump beautifully,” White said. “Then he landed and galloped away. He seemed to get better as the course went on. He really couldn’t have been better.”

Faudree, who grew up on a West Texas farm, was introduced to eventing at a Karen O’Connor clinic when he was 10 years old. He won the USET Markham Trophy as the highest-finishing young rider at the USET Spring Championship at Foxhall last April and is now in a position to possibly win it all in the USET Fall Championship at Fair Hill. “This is just unbelievable what is happening to me,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have a great horse and to have the best teacher in the world in Phillip Dutton.”

The eventing championship concludes with the stadium jumping phase starting at 11:00 am on Sunday.

The Fair Hill International’s driving competition is being run under an unusual format with the cones phase coming on Saturday before concluding with the marathon on Sunday. Merriam, who took the lead in the USA National Single Horse Championship when he finished Friday’s dressage test with a score of 39.67 driving his Bronze Medal World Championship horse, Gadwood Lightwing, owned by Nicholas Mercede, maintained his score and his lead with a clean cones round, one of only two on the day. Merriam’s World Championship teammate, Nancy Johnson of Lincoln, MA, remains in second place with a two-phase score of 42.50 with her Canequin’s Look Out.

Chester Weber of Ocala, FL maintained his lead in the Four-In-Hand horse division with a score of 63.40 with his team. Jim Fairclough of Newton, NJ, driving a team owned by Jane Clark, remained in second with a score of 73.27. 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, kept her lead with a score of 55.80 penalties driving her pair owned by Mimi Thorington. In second with a score of 57.80 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 kept the lead in the Singles competition with a score of 45.00 with his pony, Harry. Miranda Cadwell of Southern Pines, NC moved into second with a score of 56.33 driving Red Robo, owned by Kate Rivers.

In the pony Pairs competition, Tracey Morgan of Beallsville, MD maintained her lead with a score of 57.93 driving the pair show co-owns with Susan Deutermann. She is followed by Muffy Seaton of Bluemont, VA who has a score of 64.20 with her pair. In the pony Four-In-Hand division, Katie Whaley of Southern Pines, NC held the lead with a score of 62.50 with her team over Kelly Valdes of Unionville, PA who has a score of 79.43 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 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 on 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 more information about Fair Hill International, please call (410) 398-2111 or visit


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