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Calgary's Kyle Carter Sits Fourth Individually at Pan American Games
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Photos: Shannon Brinkman

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Karen O'Connor (USA) riding Theodore O'Connor
Following a thrilling day on the cross-country course at the XV Pan American Games, Canada has retained second position behind the United States and ahead of Brazil in the equestrian sport of eventing.

With a trio of Olympic veterans forming its team, the U.S. sits in gold medal position with a two-day total of 154.80 penalty points. Canada, with a score of 177.10 penalty points, has a 15-point lead over the home team of Brazil with 192.60.

"It was an almost perfect day," said Canadian Eventing Team Technical Advisor, David O'Connor, who is a past Olympic champion for the United States. "The whole team went out there today to be competitive, and they got to a place where they are taking a serious shot at the gold medal."

Kyle Carter riding Madison Park was the first Canadian to tackle the cross-country course designed by Sue Benson of Great Britain. The 38-year-old Calgary native successfully negotiated the 5.7 km course that challenged horses with 27 numbered obstacles and a total of 41 jumping efforts, to finish on his dressage score of 56.30. Carter was one of only six riders to finish within the 10-minute time allowed, and one of only five to jump 'double clear' with no jumping or time penalties. Carter's faultless performance with Madison Park, a nine-year-old thoroughbred gelding owned in partnership with Nicole Shinton, moved him into a tie for fourth place individually with U.S. team member Gina Miles riding McKinlaigh.

The second athlete on course for Canada was the Team's youngest member, 18-year-old Waylon Roberts of Port Perry, Ontario, riding Paleface, a 12-year-old Canadian thoroughbred gelding owned by his mother, Canadian Olympian Kelly Plitz. Roberts displayed skills beyond his years with smooth trips through the water complex, which was used twice on the course. Like Carter, he finished within the optimum time and added no penalties to his dressage score of 62.90. In 21st position following Friday's opening phase of dressage, Roberts leapt up the leader board and is currently in 11th position.

Next out for the Canadian Team, Sandra Donnelly, 37, of Calgary, AB, piloted her Canadian Warmblood gelding Buenos Aires around the hilly course, accruing 10 time penalties to put her ninth in the standings with 61.70 penalties.

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Kyle Carter (CAN) and Madison Park
"He was fabulous," said Donnelly, visibly pleased with the 10-year-old horse that she bred and trained herself.

"A run out just isn't a question with my horse," she added in reference to the number of obstacles that had to be jumped from a difficult angle or were very narrow, including a sphere painted like a soccer ball.

Canada's anchor rider was Michael Winter, a Toronto native who now makes his home in Atlanta, Georgia. As the second last competitor on course and riding with the additional weight of the team on his shoulders, Winter chose to take the long route at what had proved to be the problem area of the day, the coffin complex at numbers 10, 11 and 12. Although the decision resulted in seven time penalties, Winter posted the fourth clear jumping round for the Canadian Eventing Team. With a current score of 59.10, Winter moved up into seventh place individually with Kingpin, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Kingpin Syndicate.

"He was amazing," said Winter, 32, shortly after crossing the finish line. "He went so well and he was so genuine. I think he is finding it all easier because he's getting more broke."

Canada's individual competitor, Jessica Phoenix, 23, of Uxbridge, ON, had a refusal at the coffin complex at number 10. She and her 10-year-old thoroughbred gelding, Exploring, still managed to finish the course within the 10-minute time limit, an accomplishment that impressed O'Connor.

"She was great about picking up and being competitive after the stop," he noted. "Finishing within the time shows guts and pluck."

On a score of 74.80, Phoenix is in 15th position in her major games debut.

Individually, the United States occupies the top three medal positions. With 48.70 penalty points, Karen O'Connor and the popular pony, Theodore O'Connor, are just one point ahead of team mate Phillip Dutton, a former Australian Olympic gold medalist making his major games debut riding on the U.S. Team, who has a score of 49.80 riding Truluck. The defending individual gold medalist, Darren Chiacchia, competing as an individual for the U.S. on Better I Do It, is in third position with 50.20. With a current score of 56.30, fourth placed Carter is less than two show jumping rails away from an individual medal.

Of the 26 horses that began cross-country, the second of three phases comprising the sport of eventing, 21 completed the course and will be presented at the mandatory inspection before the final phase of show jumping begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22. At the conclusion, both team and individual medals will be awarded. The top two teams, excluding the already qualified United States, will be awarded berths for the 2008 Olympic Games.

2007 Pan American Games - Individual Eventing Standings Following Cross-Country

Rider Country Horse Score
1. Karen O'Connor United States Theodore O'Connor 48.70
2. Phillip Dutton United States Truluck 49.80
3. Darren Chiacchia United States Better I Do It 50.20
4. (tie) Kyle Carter Calgary, AB Madison Park 56.30
4. (tie) Gina Miles United States McKinlaigh 56.30
6. Samantha Albert Jamaica Before I Do It 57.40
7. Mike Winter Toronto, ON Kingpin 59.10
8. Fabricio Salgado Brazil Butterfly 61.50
9. Sandra Donnelly Calgary, AB Buenos Aires 61.70
10. Carlos Paro Brazil Political Mandate 62.40
11. Waylon Roberts Port Perry, ON Paleface 62.90

15. Jessica Pheonix Uxbridge, ON Exploring 74.80


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