With eventing at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru kicking off in almost exactly four weeks, the U.S. team athletes and horses gathered together for the first time yesterday in The Plains, Virginia to begin their final preparations.
Boyd Martin, Doug Payne, Tamra Smith, Lynn Symansky, and the reserve riders who have been selected to represent the USA for the upcoming 2019 Pan American Games trained today at Chestnut Run Farm and Beverly Equestrian Center. All riders rode dressage in morning sessions and jumped with U.S. Eventing Performance Director, Erik Duvander in afternoon sessions to prepare for a busy schedule in preparation for Lima.
“It looks like everyone’s been doing the work they need to do at home,” said Symansky. “Mine feels better than he was in the spring. I think the term is ‘cautiously optimistic’. I am a positive thinker but not outwardly so. My mental game is: prepare for the worst and expect the best.”
Smith and Alex and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell's Mai Baum arrived from their home base in Southern California late last night, completing the team save for traveling reserve Liz Halliday-Sharp, who is at home in England and preparing to compete at Barbury this weekend. “I’m in bit of disbelief that I’m here,” Smith said. “We just flatted today, but he felt great. He got here and took a deep breath and a nap!”
Mai Baum and the other team horses are overnighting at Mary Ann Ghadban’s Chestnut Run Farm in The Plains before heading to The Maryland Horse Trials this weekend.
In total nine team horses (including reserves) schooled over a Chris Barnard-designed course in Beverly Equestrian’s outdoor arena, that modeled what riders should expect to see in Lima. Duvander was pleased with the day.
“It’s always interesting when you first put a new group of people together. There’s a lot of talk about team culture and so on, but it’s always developed with individuals - you can’t create a culture until you put them all together and see what happens, and I don’t know if we were lucky on day one, but it’s been a really good day,” Duvander said. “All the horses went well and everyone worked with really good focus. It’s about ticking the boxes every day, getting it right every day, and I think today we got it right with all horses.”
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While Great Britain has a strong lead in the team competition at Tokyo 2020 after the second session of dressage, the USA has climbed up two places to ninth courtesy of Phillip Dutton’s score of 30.5 on Z.
The world number one Oliver Townend has put Great Britain in gold medal position after the first of three sessions of dressage at the Tokyo Olympics.
Second into the arena, Townend delivered an extremely accurate performance and did not waste a mark on the flea-bitten grey 14-year-old Ballaghmor Class to score 23.6 - the fifth-best mark by a British rider at an Olympics, according to EquiRatings.
It’s the turn of the world’s best eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.