Articles: Press Release
Team USA Packs an Early Punch with Five of Top Six Riders after
Eventing's Dressage Phase
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2007
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - The American event riders got off to a
fantastic start on July 20 at the XV Pan American Games taking the lead
in the team portion of the competition and sweeping the top five places
American combination Mara Dean riding Nicki Henley went to the head of a
quality field of 27 horse-and-rider combinations riding before the
ground jury of Barry Roycroft, Jo Young and Janine Rohr-Cicurel. Team
members Stephen Bradley and From are second and Karen O'Connor riding
Theodore O'Connor are third.
The most experienced rider on the squad, O'Connor, was second in the
ring and got things off on the right foot for the U.S team with the
adorable Theodore O'Connor. Owned by the Theodore O'Connor Syndicate,
the 12-year-old hugely popular pony can't move like some of the
Warmblood horses, but he proved today that it doesn't matter. O'Connor
rode a very accurate test picking up scores of eights and nines for her
halt at A.
"I was so proud of him," said O'Connor after her test.
Never giving a point away, the pair got straight sevens and eights for
the very valuable collective marks. A final score of 47.10 proved that
the judges were prepared to reward a quality performance.
"His score was eight points better than Kentucky," said O'Connor. "A lot
of that is Mark's influence [chef d'equipe Mark Philips], the three of
us get a long really, really well... I'd like to think in the next six
to eight months, I can improve it even more. Having the dressage people
here with us, they told me they can help me get an extended trot out of
Darren Chiacchia and Better I Do It (owned by Adrienne Iorio) were the
second American combination in the arena. Chiacchia, the reigning Gold
medalist from the 2003 Pan American Games, is riding again as an
individual. He and Better I Do It, a 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood, put
in a very workmanlike performance to end up fourth.
"I am very, very pleased," said Chiacchia. "But, truth be told, I'm a
little disappointed because he's been so good in training."
Quality trot transitions and an accurate rider made up for mistakes in
both changes. They slipped in just behind Theodore O'Connor and Karen
O'Connor on a score of 49.4.
"I've really been trying to get it to the next level," he said. "But,
whenever you up the grade a bit, it takes a while for that to get
confirmed before you really have ownership of that at the competition.
I, maybe, in a couple of places, got a little greedy looking for the new
work, but maybe didn't have the connection."
Second team rider, Californian Gina Miles with Thomas Schulz and Laura
Coates' giant 13-year-old Irish Thoroughbred, McKinlaigh, filled up the
ring with lots of movement and presence, but made a couple of mistakes
that cost them a top score. McKinlaigh broke to canter in the first
extended trot and picked up the canter instead of the trot after the
halt at A. They received really good marks on some of their other work,
and his fancy movement was rewarded in the collective marks. They
finished on a score of 56.9, good enough for 11th place.
"I think that we put too much pressure on him out in the warm up," said
Miles who represented the U.S. as an individual at the World Equestrian
Games. "We pushed him over the edge a little bit. So, obviously, I'm
disappointed in my individual score, but the point I'm here for is to
ride for the team, so I'm going to finish on that score."
Stephen Bradley and Charlotte Harris' From, the third team combination
for the United States, put in a lovely, polished performance. Bradley,
who was a member of the Gold medal team effort in 2003, used his
experience to finesse a score of 46.5 out of the 15-year-old Russian
Thoroughbred gelding who receive two eights for his first flying change.
The pair also got eights for the halt at A and took advantage of very
good canter work to go to the lead temporarily.
"I was real pleased with my horse," said Bradley. "Especially
considering after Jersey Fresh [in June] he'd been a little over the top
and wound pretty tight. In particular, I've been working with Mara
[Dean] on a regular basis, and she spent a lot of extra time helping me
work through this and sitting on him for me in preparation for this, and
it made a total difference in the horse that I feel brought him up
another whole level."
Dean, who always puts in a polished performance in the dressage, proved
that the help she gave Bradley with From was certainly not lost on her
own horse. Riding as an individual, she certainly did not disappoint
expectations with Willow Bend Farm's Nicki Henley.
"I'm thrilled with the place I'm in and with the score that I got," said
Dean. "My horse can be a little bit difficult in the atmosphere, and it
was a little touch and go to start. But, then he took a deep breath, and
I have to thank Mark [Phillips] for improving even a little bit more
these last couple of weeks and taking it to another level."
Dean received very good marks, primarily eights on all of her work. A
10 for the halt at C highlighted the test, but all of the work was of
tremendous quality. Nicki Henley, a big moving 12-year-old Irish
Thoroughbred, tried very hard, and his effort was rewarded with a score
of 40.20 much to the delight of the American fans. Dean will be the one
to beat over the remainder of the competition for the individual honors.
"The exciting thing is that I know it can be that much better," said
Phillip Dutton, riding under the U.S. flag for the first time after
wining two Gold medals with the Australian team, made a lasting
impression with Truluck. In the anchor position, he put in a stellar
performance with the 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. Owned by Ann
Jones and Shannon Stimson, Truluck demonstrated good trot work with very
clear transitions within the gait and excellent half-pass, scoring
sevens and eights on those movements. Straight eights on the extended
canter helped the combination finish fifth on a score of 49.8. Dutton
acknowledged that the horse is still relatively inexperienced at the
highest level of the sport.
"I was pleased without being ecstatic," said Dutton. "We had a few
little errors that stopped it from being a really good test. He was
good. He's still on the green side, but he's improved a lot since
Kentucky. I've got to keep in mind that this time last year he'd just
done a two-star."
After Dutton's test, Team USA finished the day with a score of 143.4 and
stretched out a significant lead over Canada who ended on 159.9. Brazil
lies in third with 173.2.
The cross-country gets underway at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and Karen
O'Connor will be the first American on course at 10:05 a.m. An
inordinate amount of effort has gone into the course over the last two
months, but there is some concern that the ground is not established
"They got the right pony going first to find out how the track is," said
O'Connor. "We're a little concerned that the sod hasn't settled and
whether or not they will slip around the turns so that will be part of
Also at Deodoro on Friday:
The first day of eventing competition started with power failure. One of
the generators that supplies power to the main arena malfunctioned
meaning no power to the scorers, the loud speaker or the screens. Just
after 9 a.m., they got it all up and running and Argentine rider Rodolfo
Grazzini got things underway at 9:20 a.m.
Two stubborn birds stood their ground during Jamaican rider Samantha
Albert's test. Albert's mare, Before I Do It, never wavered in her
composure and put in a stellar performance picking up a score of 50.2.
Before I Do It was bred and produced by the same connections that are
responsible for Darren Chiacchia's mount, Better I Do It. Both are by
the Thoroughbred stallion Billion. Albert started both of the horses who
were bred by her ex-husband's mother, Eva Albert, in Sweden.
For more information please contact Joanie Morris, Communications
Manager, High Performance at email@example.com.
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