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U.S. Rider Leads 3-Day Equestrian

September 20, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ A once-in-a-lifetime dressage put American David O’Connor in first place after the opening day of the individual three-day event Wednesday.

O’Connor, of The Plains, Va., performed a graceful, mistake-free test on Custom Made to score 29.0. He was part of the U.S. bronze medal-winning three-day team on Monday.

``I’ve never broken 30 in my life on any horse,″ O’Connor, 38, said. ``When he floats like that I just sit up there and smile.″

He was followed by Marina Koehncke of Germany on Longchamps with 34.8 and Heidi Antikatzidis of Greece on Michaelmas with 37.4.

Robert Costello of Southern Pines, N.C., on Chevalier, had 42.4 points for ninth place and was still in the hunt for a medal going into the cross-country endurance test Thursday (Wednesday night EDT).

``I was hoping for the low 40s, so I’m more than happy,″ Costello said.

The third U.S. rider, Julie Black of Newnan, Ga., earned 52.8 on Hyde Park Corner and is the middle of the pack of 38 riders. She said her horse tried to shy throughout the test.

``He’s a very spooky horse,″ said Black. ``I wasn’t nervous. He’s a little bit temperamental and takes awhile to get used to each new atmosphere.″

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