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United States Wins Double Gold in Pan American Eventing Championship at Fair Hill International

Fair Hill, MD—October 26, 2003—The United States Equestrian Team (USET) won the team and individual Gold Medals in the Pan American Eventing Championship at the 2003 Fair Hill International Festival in the Country.

The U.S. finished the three phases of dressage, cross country and show jumping with a score of 190.0 penalties to successfully defend the team Gold it won at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. Canada finished second for the team Silver Medal with 325.0 penalties and Brazil took the Bronze with a score of 1394.4. With its team Silver Medal, Canada earned a place in next year’s Olympic Games in Athens. The U.S. had already earned a place at Athens by winning the World Championship last year in Jerez, Spain.

“People expected us to win this week and that put a lot of pressure on us,” said U.S. team rider Robert Costello. “We still had to go out there and do the job and I’m very proud of our team’s performance.”

Individually, U.S. rider Darren Chiacchia of Springville, NY clinched the Gold with a penalty-free show jumping round to finish with a score 52.4 on Windfall 2. Karen O’Connor of The Plains, VA won the individual Silver with a score of 59.0 on Joker’s Wild and Jan Thompson of Purcellville, VA won the Bronze with a score of 62.4 on Shared Dreams.

“I have a great horse and a lot of confidence in his ability to do well,” said Chiacchia who won the USET Eventing Spring Championship last April. “He has continued to develop and get stronger in all three phases. I’m thrilled with what he did here.”

No eventing competition was held at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo earlier this year and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) decided to hold the Pan American Eventing Championship in conjunction with the Fair Hill International CCI***. The U.S. win completes a sweep of the three Pan Am equestrian disciplines. The U.S. won the team Gold in dressage and show jumping at Santo Domingo.

Competing for the Pan Am championship were riders and horses from Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. The U.S. team included Robert Costello of Southern Pines, NC on Dalliance; Will Faudree of Norwood, NC on Antigua; Jan Thompson of Purcellville, VA on Shared Dreams; and Stephen Bradley of Middleburg, VA on Brandenburg’s Joshua. Eight other U.S. riders competed as individuals.

David O’Connor of The Plains, VA had led the Pan Am individual competition after the completion of the dressage and cross country phases on Courting Danger. However, a fall during the cross country of the USET Championship after the Pan Am competition put him in the hospital with a broken ankle and broken wrist, denying him a chance for the Pan Am individual Gold. He had won the individual Silver at the 1999 Pan American Games at Winnipeg.

In addition to the Pan Am championship, many of the United States’ top eventing riders competed for the USET Eventing Fall Championship and Fair Hill CCI*** Championship. Karen O’Connor added to her Pan Am Silver Medal with a win in the USET Championship and CCI*** after she completed show jumping with no faults to finish the three phases on her dressage score of 52.8 on Grand Slam. “He has always tended to be a little flat in show jumping,” said O’Connor, the three-time Olympic veteran who previously won the Championship at Fair Hill the first year it was held in 1989. “I’d have to say that this was the best he has ever show jumped in a three-day event.”

O’Connor entered the show jumping phase in second place behind Kristin Schmolze of Montville, NJ who had led with a score of 50.6 on Cavaldi. Schmolze, who won team Gold and individual Silver medals at the North American Young Rider Championships in Quebec in August, had one rail down for four penalties, dropping her to second place. Schmolze, age 20, still won the USET Markham Trophy as the highest-placing Young Rider (up to age 21) to go with the Markham Trophy she won in the USET Spring Championship last April.

“We just got in a little too close,” said Schmolze who said she has benefited greatly from the Amanda Warrington training grant she received from the USET earlier this year. “Coming here I would have been thrilled to be anywhere in the ribbons so I am still extremely happy overall.”

Julie Richards of Atlanta, GA finished with 57.0 penalties to take third place on her 2000 Sydney Olympic mount, Hyde Park Corner who was competing in his first three-day event since Sydney.

The Fair Hill International served as the final stop of a three-event series where Nunn Finer Products awarded one of its new Wofford Cross-Country Classic saddles to the rider who completed the Morven Park CCI*, the Radnor Hunt CCI**, and the Fair Hill International CCI*** with the lowest cumulative score. Darren Chiacchia won the award that was presented to him by John Nunn of Nunn Finer Products and legendary eventing rider and coach Jim Wofford, on whose custom eventing saddle the Wofford Classic was based.

The 2003 Fair Hill International also hosted several advanced combined driving competitions highlighted by the USET National Pair Horse Championship. Larry Poulin of Boxford, MA won the championship with a score of 137.71 penalties. His sixth USET Championship tied the record held by Lisa Singer of Chadds Ford, PA, who finished second with a score of 146.86.

“My horses know exactly what to do in cones, but one of them of them is still learning how to do the marathon, said Poulin who won both those phases after placing second to Singer in dressage. “This is a power marathon here, equal to any World Championship. I’m very happy with the performance of my horses.”

USET veteran Bill Long of Southern Pines, NC won the Four-in-Hand division with a score of 144.20. Second was Jim Richards of Atlanta, GA who had 179.82. In the singles division, defending champion Fred Merriam of Newfane, VT won with a score of 114.54.

Fair Hill also hosted dog agility trials with over 200 canine competitors. The Stuart Family Miniature Horses performed driving, hunter/jumper and obstacle jumping demonstrations along with talks on the care of miniature horses. Friends from the Winterthur booth offered quick crafts for children and a family sign-up opportunity, and spectators were able to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay and environmental concerns at the Chesapeake Foundation Booth.

The 2003 Fair Hill International Festival in the Country benefited Christiana Care Health System, one of the Chesapeake region’s largest not-for-profit health care providers. Christiana Care, which began in 1888, serves the people of Delaware, as well as neighboring areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It maintains a teaching hospital which specializes in cardiology, cancer and women’s health services, and has trauma and neonatal intensive care units that offer an exceptional degree of care.

This year’s sponsors included American Home & Hardware; Bayer; Bit of Britain; Cosequin/Nutramax Labs; County Banking & Trust Co.; Crystal Trust; Dansko; The Equiery; Glenmede Trust Company; Goldman, Sachs & Co.; The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation; Jeff D’Ambrosio Chevrolet; Lexus; Maryland Horse Industry Board; M. H. Eby, Inc.; Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; NowPac, Inc.; Primedia Equine; Rice, Unruh & Reynolds; Sentman Distributors; Stancill’s; The Stewart Foundation; Summit Aviation; Thornhill Enterprises; Thoroughbred Charities of America, Ltd.; Wachovia; Walnut Green Bloodstock; and Wilmington Trust.

Full results and further information on the 2003 Fair Hill International are available at


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