Four stellar cross-country rounds from members of the U.S. Eventing Team kept the team secure at the top of the leaderboard at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, ahead of tomorrow’s final phase of show jumping, as they sit on a team total of 86.2.
Brazil continues to hold second place overnight on a 101.5, while Canada is in third on 105.2. The U.S. also sits in the top three individual placings, with Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake in first, adding nothing to their dressage score of 26.8. Dressage leaders Liz Halliday and Miks Master C are currently second on a 28.8, with Sharon White and Claus 63 rounding out the top three on 30.6.
“The team really went out and executed our gameplan today, and each of them did the job we tasked them with. Ian [Stark, cross-country team advisor] was really thorough with how he wanted them to approach this course, and all of them delivered,” said Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello. “The horses are all looking great and finished well, which is a testament to their fitness and preparedness coming into this event. We have one more day left though, and we are not taking our eye off the ball.”
Sydney Elliott (Benton, Louisiana) and QC Diamantaire and were the trailblazers for the team and were tasked with testing the direct options and seeing what would be necessary to make the time. They were foot perfect in their trip around the course, managing the direct routes efficiently and keeping up on their minute markers. The 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carol Stephens, is experienced for the level, but Elliott noted that he will have learned something from their outing today.
“I think we always were concerned about the time. Getting out there and just doing my job and seeing what routes were fastest and seeing if we could take an option here or there and still get under time or in it, and it went great,” said Elliott. “For him, we’ve vacillated up and down the levels throughout this whole career, and he gains a lot of confidence going down a level and going back up a level. It was challenging because there was nothing to hold these experienced horses back, and we really wanted to make sure all of the frangibles stayed up.”
With the first rotation of riders complete, Sharon White and Claus 63 set out on course with a mission in mind, also taking all the direct lines, while White focused on keeping Claus 63’s attention throughout the course. The pair came home with just 2.4 time penalties, putting them neatly into the third place looking ahead to tomorrow’s jumping phase.
“I’m so happy with my little horse here. He really stepped up to the plate. There were so many people here, and so many distractions, but he was just wonderful and said yes to everything. I’m so proud of him,” said White. “He has grown leaps and bounds just from being here. This is so ideal for his trajectory. The atmosphere is a lot, and it’s so useful for a horse, and there’s a pressure too; they know. I’m thrilled he stepped up to the plate.”
Piloting the youngest horse on the team, Pamukcu was clear that her intention was to follow Stark’s marching orders and go for the time, letting HSH Blake open up his stride and gallop through the long lanes, crowded with spectators at the ropes. The pair were keen through the combinations and HSH Blake, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Pamukcu, Sherrie Martin, and Mollie Hoff, really showed the strength of their growing partnership and endurance, crossing through the finish timers in 7:53 seconds, the same as Elliot and QC Diamantaire, to stay on their dressage score and take over the lead.
“I really have to thank the federation because I felt very prepared coming into this event, and Blake did too. We did the young horse and young rider program together, and we went to Strzegom [Poland] this summer for the Nations Cup, and that was such a perfect prep for this event. We felt confident out there, and I’m quite pleased with him. I made sure I moved on the galloping tracks, and I had to set him up a bit more than normal, and it was a championship course that asked four-star questions at the three-star height. The ground was unbelievable, and all the jumps were just so beautifully decorated.”
Aboard Miks Master C, Halliday knew that keeping the 11-year-old U.S.-bred Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Deborah Palmer and Ocala Horse Properties LLC, quick but not too strong was going to be the challenge of the day for the pair. The duo worked their way through the course, finishing just over the time allowed, adding four time penalties to their score to sit in second overall on a 28.8.
“He jumped all the jumps well, but he was super strong. He’s an incredible cross-country horse and very brave. I had to throw the anchor out in some places that I didn’t want to which ultimately led to the time penalties, but he’s a wonderful horse, and he’s a machine,” said Halliday. “I’m really thrilled for my teammates. Team USA was just so world-class today and were all brilliant. It’s a bit disappointing for myself, but I’m proud of my team, and I know I have a big engine underneath me with him.”
The second horse inspection will take place at 9:00 a.m. GMT-3/8:00 a.m. ET tomorrow, followed by jumping beginning at 12:00 p.m. GMT-3/11:00 a.m. ET to determine team and individual medals.
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United States Eventing Association (USEA) members at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention were in for a treat on Friday as the U.S. Eventing Team was on hand to discuss their accomplishments this year at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.