O'Connor and Pony Prodigy Lead a Historic U.S. Medal Sweep

Jul 21, 2007 - 10:00 PM

Karen O’Connor and pony phenomenon Theodore O’Connor led the U.S. charge to capture every single eventing medal to be had at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today, July 22.  O’Connor took home the gold aboard “Teddy” and anchored the U.S. team to their historic gold medal finish. Phillip Dutton earned the individual silver aboard Truluck and Gina Miles the bronze on McKinlaigh.

In the team competition Canada picked up the silver medal and Brazil earned the bronze. 

“For me the competition has had many firsts, even though I’m an old lady at this,” said 49-year-old O’Connor.  “It’s the first time on a team with Phillip Dutton, the first time to South America, first time on a pony, first time on a podium without my husband.” 

Most importantly, it was also O’Connor’s first time taking home one gold medal, let alone two.  Though the three-time Rolex Kentucky Three-Day winner has an impressive resume including a team silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, this was her first time finishing on top at a major international competition as an individual and a member of a team.

And, of course, it was the first time a pony won a medal at a major international competition.

The diminutive 14.1-hand “Teddy” made short work of the stadium course, bounding easily over each jump and just barely catching the back rail of the oxer coming out of an in-and-out to add four faults to their cross-country score.  The pair finished the weekend with 52.7 points.

The spunky pony was left with plenty of run at the end of the Games, racing far ahead of the Dutton and Miles in the victory gallop after spooking at O’Connor’s championship bouquet.  “When I went around the first time I had the flowers down, just letting him get used to them.  Then as I lifted the flowers up, he shot forward like a dart,” recalled O’Connor.

Finishing 1.1 points behind O’Connor and taking home the individual silver was Dutton aboard Truluck.  The pair left all the rails in the cups on the stadium course but earned four time faults. “The show jumping has been this horse’s weakest area, and it was a conscious decision not to go fast–he needs to be held in a shorter stride,” said Dutton.

He went on to explain that Truluck definitely felt the effects of yesterday’s cross-country course.  “He had an overreach yesterday and was stiff today, so I was very happy to go into the competition and jump a clear round.”

This was Dutton’s first time riding as an American citizen–although he’s lived in the United States since 1991, he always rode for Australia before.  “It was not a very easy decision to change nationalities,” he said.  “But America has been so good to me and my family.”

Gina Miles captured the bronze medal aboard McKinlaigh in her first time riding on a U.S. team. Miles got off to a disappointing start, after a rocky dressage test left her and McKinlaigh in 11th place. But the seasoned competitor kept her composure and confidently promised to finish strong.  Miles delivered, posting a faultless cross-country runs and one of only three double-clear stadium rounds.  She was the only competitor to finish on her dressage score.

The fourth team member Stephen Bradley finished up a disappointing 13th after pulling down three rails in the show jumping phase aboard From.

“He got tired yesterday,” said Bradley. “He was tired today, and it showed up in the show jumping, but you learn something from that and go forward.”

According to the scoring format of the Games, only the top three scores of each team are counted towards the team score, so Bradley’s score was dropped.  

U.S. individual rider Darren Chiacchia dropped out of  medal contention after Better I Do It pulled four rails.  The 2003 Pan Am gold medalist finished up in fourth.

The other U.S. individual rider Mara Dean pulled her horse, Nicki Henley, from competition during the cross-country course yesterday after he injured his left front leg.

The only other time the United States—or anyone else for that matter—swept the medals in an equestrian competition at a Pan Am was at the eventing competition of the 1987 Indianapolis Pan Am Games. 

Despite her brilliant success, O’Connor isn’t taking anything for granted.  “This is like this continuing fairy tale that I feel so lucky to feel a part of,” said O’Connor.  ”This pony has continued to amaze me and all of his fans every time he goes out.”

Final Results
Team competition

1.    United States 162.8
Karen O’Connor, Theodore O’Connor 52.7
Phillip Dutton, Truluck, 53.8
Gina Miles, McKinlaigh, 56.3
Stephen Bradley, From 80.9

2.    Canada 211.1
Kyle Carter, Madison Park 66.3
Mike Winter, Kingpin 75.1
Sandra Donnelly, Buenos Aires 69.7
Waylon Roberts, Paleface 82.9

3.    Brazil 235.6
Fabricio Salgado, Butterfly 77.5
Carlos Paro, Political Mandate 81.4
Renan Guerreiro, Rodizio AA 76.7
Andre Paro, Land Heir 114.9

4.    Chile 1431.5
(RT) Ricardo Stangher, Literal 1000
Sergio Iturriaga, Lago Rupanco 178.7
Felipe Martinez, Navideno 252.8

5.    Argentina 2154.7
(EL) Rodolfo Grazzini, Remonta Desertora 1000
(EL) Gustavo Jorge Schurlein 1000
(EL) Jose Luis Ortelli, Jos Aladar 1000
Juan Mariano Chiarra Vieyra, Varadero 154.7

Final Results
Individual competition

1.   USA Karen O’Connor, Theodore O’Connor 52.7 (team)
2.   USA Phillip Dutton, Truluck, 53.8 (team)
3.   USA Gina Miles, McKinlaigh, 56.3 (team)
4.   USA Darren Chiacchia, Better I Do It, 66.2 (individual)
5.   CAN Kyle Carter, Madison Park 66.3 (team)
6.   CAN Sandra Donnelly, Buenos Aires 69.7 (team)
7.   BRA Saulo Tristao, Tootsie 74.2 (individual)
8.   CAN Mike Winter, Kingpin 75.1 (team)
9.   BRA Renan Guerreiro, Rodizio AA 76.7 (team)
10. BRA Serguei Fofanoff, Ekus TW, 76.7 (individual)
11. BRA Fabricio Salgado, Butterfly 77.5 (team)
12. CAN Jessica Phoenix, Exploring 78.8 (individual)
13. USA Stephen Bradley, From 80.9 (team)
14. BRA Carlos Paro, Political Mandate 81.4 (team)
15. CAN Waylon Roberts, Paleface 82.9 (team)
16. JAM Samantha Albert, Before I Do It 88.4 (individual)
17. BRA Andre Paro, Land Heir 114.9 (team)
18. ARG Juan Mariano Chiarra Vieyra, Varadero 154.7 (team)
19. CHI Sergio Iturriaga, Lago Rupanco 178.7 (team)
20. ARG Martin Cornejo, Viejo Nacho 246.4 (individual)
21. CHI Felipe Martinez, Navideno 252.8 (team)

(RT) USA Mara Dean, Nicki Henley (individual)
(EL) ARG Rodolfo Grazzini, Remonta Desertora (team)
(EL) ARGGustavo Jorge Schurlein (team)
(EL) ARG Jose Luis Ortelli, Jos Aladar  (team)
(EL) URU Alejandro Quintana, S.V.R. Quetzal (individual)
(RT) CHI Ricardo Stagher, Literal (team)



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