OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST DAVID OCONNOR TOPS LIST OF EVENTING AND DRIVING CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT FAIR HILL INTERNATIONAL
FAIR HILL, MDNovember 1, 2001The thirteenth annual Fair Hill International Festival in the Country brought a record number of eventers and an impressive line-up of drivers, horses, and ponies to the beautiful Maryland countryside for four days of championship competition, October 25 28, 2001.
USET Fall Eventing Championship CCI***
In eventing, 2000 Olympic individual Gold Medalist David OConnor, The Plains, VA, eked out a victory in the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship CCI***, topping a record field of nearly 100 entries, with riders representing Ireland, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, India, Finland, Australia and the United States.
The USET Fall Eventing Championship CCI*** is one of the most prestigious eventing competitions, one of only two three-star competitions held in the United States each year.
Over four days of competition, the leader board changed daily. Five-time U.S. Olympic veteran Bruce Davidson of Unionville, PA, on Squires Cap, tied with Cathy Wieschhoff of Lexington, KY on Rainbow Magic following Day 1 of the dressage phase. By the time dressage concluded on Friday, Darren Chiacchia of Springville, NY had moved into the lead on Windfall. Moving into second place on Jenga was Bonnie Mosser of Coatesville, PA. Three-time U.S. Olympic veteran Karen OConnor of The Plains, VA was third riding Grand Slam while Thursdays co-leaders, Davidson and Wieschhoff, had dropped to fourth, along with Peter Green of Upperville, VA.
Following Saturdays cross-country phase, Olympic Gold Medalists Phillip Dutton of Australia and David OConnor were separated by less than one point. Dutton, the defending champion, who won team Gold Medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, led with a score of 58.4 penalties on Cayman Went after receiving 0.4 time penalties in the cross country phase. OConnor matched Duttons 0.4 time penalties for a two-phase total of 58.8.
Because of the terrain here and how the course is laid out, its always hard to make the time, said Dutton who spent the early-morning hours with his wife Evie when she delivered twin girls just 6 hours before the cross-country phase began. My horse went well which I appreciated as I was a bit worn out from the night before.
On Sunday, OConnor won his record fifth U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Fall Eventing Championship with a penalty-free stadium jumping ride.
OConnor, who won his fourth overall Fair Hill title (his 1995 USET title came as the top U.S. finisher behind Australian David Green), finished with a three-phase score of 58.8 penalties after completing the stadium jumping phase fault-free on The Native.
Defending champion Dutton was the events last entry and entered the ring on Cayman Went with a score of 58.4 penalties. He appeared to have the fault-free ride he needed to win his third Fair Hill title until his seven-year-old Thoroughbred knocked down the rail at the last fence on course for five jumping penalties and a final score of 63.40.
I really owe this win to my horse, OConnor said. I came out of the turn to the triple combination very badly and I didnt have the stride to the fence. This horse tries so hard and he really saved me.
OConnor also finished third overall on his other mount, Tigger Too, with a score of 71.40, while David OBrien of Southern Pines, NC was fourth with a score of 73.20 on Fox In Flight.
Beale Morris of Middleburg, VA received Fair Hills award as the top finishing amateur rider for her 15th place finish on Eastern Shore. Michael Pollard of Columbus, NC received the USETs Markham Award as the top placing Young Rider (up to age 21) for his 30th place finish on Chumba Wumba. Gina Miles of Creston, CA was honored as the top finishing rider competing in a CCI*** for the first time. She placed 17th on McKinlaigh. John Williams of Middleburg, VA was honored for having the Best Conditioned horse, his mount Sloopy.
USCTA Area II Championship
For novice equestrians, this years Fair Hill International hosted the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) Area II Preliminary, Training & Novice Horse Trials' Championships. Beth Wheeler won this East Coast Championship aboard Double Hierarchy, following dressage on Thursday, cross-country on Friday, and show jumping on Saturday.
The Fair Hill International hosted a wide variety of driving competitions, including the USET Four-in-Hand Driving Championship, the AHSA Single Horse Championship, the AHSA National Combined Driving Pony Championships (for singles and pairs), and the final leg of the Jaguar Triple Crown of Driving, presented by Driving Essentials/Glinkowski Carriages. The advanced driving competitions served as United States Equestrian Team (USET) selection trials for the 2002 Four-In-Hand and Singles Driving World Championships, to be held in Jerez, Spain and Conty, France, respectively.
The USET Four-In-Hand
Fairclough took an early lead after the dressage phase with a score of 47.04 penalties. He cemented his lead with a strong performance in the marathon, winning that phase with a score of 103.30 penalties. Fairclough made it official on Saturday, winning the USET Four-In-Hand Championship by placing first in the concluding cones phase, with only 10.0 penalties. His three-phase score totaled 160.34, topping Tucker Johnsons second-place score of 303.40. A five-time USET champion, Johnson, of Oldwick, NJ was named Reserve Champion.
It was nice that I did well on the first and last days, said Fairclough who previously won the Championship in 1982 and 1994 and who has been runner-up eight times. I didnt do as well as I would have liked in the marathon, but then again, everyone had trouble with it.
AHSA Singles Driving
Fair Hill Pairs Classic
Jaguar Triple Crown
of Driving, presented by Driving Essentials/Glinkowski Carriages
Johnsons Fair Hill final score with Canequins Look Out earned her the Jaguar Triple Crown. I wish we were better in dressage, she said, but I really couldnt ask any more of him in the marathon and cones. Im really very proud of him and I look forward to receiving my new carriage, she added referring to the new Glinkowski carriage shell receive from Driving Essentials for winning the Triple Crown.
Singer placed second to Johnson in the Jaguar Triple Crown. Although she successfully defended her title in the Fair Hill Pairs Classic, Singer missed out on a chance for a record third Jaguar Triple Crown Championship when she scored 19.5 penalties in cones. Singer, who like Johnson, won her division at both Fair Hill and the Gladstone Driving Event, needed a clean drive in cones to edge Johnson in the Jaguar Triple Crown.
I was trying to go fast in the straights and steady on the turns, Singer said. I was hoping to go clear but the sand builds on the covers of the corners and the balls went down.
AHSA Pony Driving Championships
In the AHSA Pony Driving Championships, the dressage phase saw Tracey Morgan of Beallsville, MD take the lead in the Pairs division with 49.92 penalties. Muffy Seaton of Bluemont, VA, was in second place with 53.12 penalties. Jack Wetzel of Aiken, SC topped the Singles division with 47.00 penalties.
On day two, both Morgan and Wetzel maintained their leads. Morgan earned a two-phase score of 126.25, while Seaton again came in second, posting a two-phase score of 129.88. Wetzel maintained a narrow lead in the Singles division with a score of 121.28, just 0.20 points ahead of Allison Stroud of West Grove, PA and her score of 121.48.
In the deciding cones phase, Seatons 14.5 penalties gave her a total score of 144.38 and the victory in the AHSA Pairs Pony Driving Championship. Morgan, with 36.5 penalties in cones, dropped to third, while A.J Meyer of Newton, NJ, earned Reserve Champion by winning the cones phase with a score of 8.5 penalties, for a total score of 160.22.
Jack Wetzels 16.5 penalties in cones gave him the sweep of all three phases and the win in AHSA Single Pony Championship with a combined score of 137.78. Betsey Cowperthwaite, also of Aiken, SC, placed second in marathon and cones, earning Reserve Champion with a score of 152.83.
While taking a break from the equestrian competition at the Fair Hill International, visitors enjoyed the variety of shopping and dining opportunities despite the unseasonable chill in the air. The Country Shops featured vendors of tack, artwork, pet needs and fine apparel. The Fair Hill Club offered fine dining, while visitors seeking a more casual snack or meal flocked to Blue Marlin Caterings pubs around the Fair Hill grounds and the classic Maryland crab-cakes.
The Equine Health Pavilion, sponsored by Cosequin, featured educational opportunities with experts from the New Bolton Center at The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Smartpak (custom packager of daily supplements for equine feed), and Pennfield Feed together with Kentucky Equine Research, a leading equine nutrition, research and consultation company. Talks, demonstrations, and autograph sessions with international stars of eventing and combined driving rounded out the opportunities in the Equine Health Pavilion.
The Fair Hill International also hosted Michael Muir, president of U.S. Driving for the Disabled, and his Horsedrawn Journey Across America on the final leg of their cross-country drive. Muir and a devoted crew of supporters drove his four-horse team of Stonewall Sporthorses, big, beautiful Warmbloods that are remarkable for their leopard-spotted coats, from California to Washington, D.C. Through their Horsedrawn Journey Across America, which began on January 28, 2001 in Mission San Diego, CA, they brought their message of hope and inspiration to everyone who is challenged by disability. They know that many disabled people continue to enjoy horses through carriage driving, since the carriage levels the playing field. They have been working to raise support for and encourage membership in USDFD nationwide.
The 49-year-old Muir, from Woodland, CA, has been living with multiple sclerosis since age 15. Initially paralyzed from the neck down, he has been in and out of bed or in wheelchairs, but he "just keeps on going, he says. My passion for the horses has kept me strong," added Muir, winner of a team Bronze medal at the World Championship for Drivers with Disabilities held in Wolfsburg, Germany in 1998
The 2001 Fair Hill International was sponsored by Cosequin, the United States Equestrian Team, Banner Life Insurance, Bit of Britain, First Union Private Capital Management, Glenmede Trust, Jaguar, Nawpac, Outback Performance Wear with Gore-Tex Fabric by Outback Trading Company, Ltd., Pennfield Feeds, Practical Horseman, Scudder Financial Services, Southern States Cooperative, Supracor, Thornhill Enterprises, and Thoroughbred Charities of America, Ltd.
The Fair Hill International Festival in the Country returns to the Fair Hill Natural Resources area for its 14th installment October 24 27, 2002. For full results and more information on the Fair Hill International, please visit www.fairhillinternational.com..