Canada and Brazil put up the good fight but the U.S. team prevailed in dressage at the Pan American Games at Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, Ontario. Just a few points separate the top three teams: the U.S. leads on a final score of 133.0, followed by Canada on 133.7 and Brazil on 136.7.
43 horses contested the dressage phase of the Eventing competition. Phillip Dutton was the trailblazer of the U.S. team on Evie Dutton's and Annie Jones’ Fernhill Fugitive, scoring 48.4 this morning. Lauren Kieffer on Marie Le Menestrel's and Kevin Kieffer’s Meadowbrooks Scarlett had a steady performance that tied Dutton’s 48.4 in the second group of riders.
Brazilian Carlos Parra, riding Fiona and Andrew Edwards’ Caulcourt Landline, took the early lead with 45.6 and held the top spot until British-based Canadian rider Kathryn Robinson was the first to break into the 30’s with 39.8 riding her own Let it Bee. Her lead didn’t last long as Brazilan Ruy Fonseca was next in the arena and scored 38.9 riding Tom Bombadill Too.
The ground jury of Wayne Quarles, Christian Landholt and Annabel Srimgeour didn’t give any points away as riders performed the new FEI 2015 2* Test B. Marilyn Little on Rayln Farm's and Phoebe and Michael Manders' RF Scandalous performed a gorgeous test with big extensions, smooth transitions and good presence in the arena to score 40.3 and bring the U.S. into the lead. Pan American defending champion Jessica Phoenix on Donald and Francine Good’s Pavarotti laid down a 42.10 to bring Canada into second place, and the very last rider of the day, Boyd Martin and The Pancho Villa Syndicate’s Pancho Villa clinched the lead for the U.S. with 43.3.
“Pancho got a little wound up and excited in the warm-up, but he put in a good test,” said Martin of the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding. “Overall I’m pleased with him.”
The popular rider didn’t have much of a cheering section as the cool, rainy weather sent many spectators packing after the lunch break. The crowd looked promising in the morning but dwindled in the afternoon as the weather grew worse.
Martin, who has represented the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games, said that tomorrow’s cross-country course “is a proper championship test”. He said, “There’s no single fence that should cause problems but there are a few little traps here and there and it will take good, confident riding to get around. I think Team USA is in the hunt but Brazil and Canada are right there.”
Tomorrow’s cross-country phase, over a course designed by Australian Wayne Copping and built by Eric Bull and Greg Schlappi, will take place at Will O’Wind Farm in nearby Mono, Ontario. The first horse goes on course at 11:00 AM.
The U.S. Ride Times for tomorrow are:
1. Phillip Dutton (11:24 a.m. ET)
2. Lauren Kieffer (12:12 p.m. ET)
3. Marilyn Little (1:04 p.m. ET)
4. Boyd Martin (1:44 p.m. ET)