Articles: Press Release
David O'Connor Rides Clean Cross Country; Now One Step Away From Gold
By Marty Bauman, U.S. Equestrian Team
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-September 21, 2000-David O'Connor of The Plains, VA is one
step away from the Gold Medal in individual eventing after a flawless cross
country ride on Custom Made, a 15-year-old, Irish Thoroughbred gelding owned
by Xandarius, LLC.
O'Connor, who made history with the best eventing dressage score in Olympic
history on Wednesday, maintained his score of 29.00 penalties with a perfect
cross country ride on his veteran partner. He enters Friday's concluding
stadium jumping phase with a lead of 8.40 penalties over Heidi Antikatzidis
of Greece who is second with a score of 37.40 on Michaelmas. Two-time
Olympic champion Mark Todd of New Zealand stands third with 39.00 penalties
on Eyespy II.
Also turning in stellar cross country rides were the other two riders
representing the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) in the individual
competition. Bobby Costello of Southern Pines, NC matched O'Connor's clean
ride and ended the day in sixth place with his dressage score of 42.40
penalties on Chevalier, an 11-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding owned by
Deirdre Pirie. The Hamilton, MA native is only one rail away from the Silver
Also finishing with no jumping, and only 0.80 time penalties, was Julie
Black of Newnan, GA who now stands 12th with a score of 53.60 on Hyde Park
Corner, a 10-year-old, American Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jim and Janet
"All of our riders had their heads on right today," said USET chef d'equipe
Captain Mark Phillips. "They did their jobs well and their horses jumped
O'Connor had words of praise for his horse. "He's such a tremendous
athlete," said O'Connor who, along with his wife Karen, helped the USET win
the Bronze Medal in this year's team eventing competition to go with their
team Silver Medal from the 1996 Olympic Games. "He really was just perfect
all the way around. You always hope for a ride like we had today and it's
quite amazing when it happens.
"The course was very much in Taylor's favor," O'Connor added. "It was a
left-handed course and it was big and gallopy. It was well suited to his
Costello, competing in his first Olympics, turned in one of only 11
penalty-free rides among the 38 who tried the course. He said the ride went
exactly according to plan. "Nothing went wrong today," Costello said. "We
kept the same gallop the whole way and he jumped everything beautifully."
Black also had words of praise for her mount. "I thought he was amazing
today," she said. "Knowing that I was tight on time, I pushed him a bit at
the end, but I have to say that he was truly great."
All three riders gave credit to their chef d'equipe for having them well
prepared for their Olympic ride. "Mark's great for our confidence," O'Connor
said, "and he does a fabulous job on site. He doesn't miss a thing."
"Once we walked the course with Mark, we knew exactly what we were supposed
to do and then we did it," Costello said. "It went just as Mark said."
"Because of Mark, we had a super plan. I felt very secure about how it would go
and it turned out to be great fun."
Full results are available on www.olympics.com.