David O'Connor - A Custom Made Victory
A Custom Made Victory
O'Connor's strong performance with Giltedge helped the four-member American squad secure team bronze in Sydney. As he did in Atlanta, David shared the podium with his wife, Karen, a formidable competitor on her horse, Biko. Then O'Connor readied himself for the individual title. With Custom Made (known fondly as "Tailor"), a towering thoroughbred, O'Connor entered the dressage arena. Intended to highlight the horse's suppleness, strength and obedience, dressage—French for "training"—in its quiet way is a demanding equestrian sport. When they completed their pattern, O'Connor and Custom Made had set a new Olympic record, posting the best-ever score, 29 penalties, for three-day event dressage.
Day two found O'Connor and Custom Made continuing their streak, posting a clean (no-penalty) round over the roads-and-tracks, steeplechase, and cross-country jump. Not everyone was so fortunate; only 23 of the original 38 eventing duos remained for show jumping on the final day of competition.
Going into show jumping as the leader, O'Connor knew the gold medal was within his grasp. His main competition came from Australia's Andrew Hoy, a veteran rider. Jumping in reverse order of standings, Hoy preceded O'Connor into the stadium and moved from fourth place to provisional first with a clean jumping round. To win, O'Connor would have to complete the twisting, thirteen-jump course with no more than 10.8 penalty points, which can be accrued through rail knockdowns of five points each. Points could also accumulate if the horse and rider exceed the course's 90-second time limit.
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