With the opening of the 2003 Pan American Games just two weeks away, the discipline of dressage will open the equestrian competition in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Beginning August 6 and running through to August 10, nine full teams – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela are expected to participate while an additional six nations intend to send individual representation.
The caliber of competition will be matched by the high standards the organizers have put into the preparation of the equestrian site. Both the dressage and show jumping events will be held at a brand-new competition venue designed in partnership with Sydney Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. Footing expert Hugh Kincannon of the United States, renowned for his work at the Kentucky Horse Park, has been retained to ensure that the arena surfaces are truly of an international standard. Test events for dressage were recently held on July 11 to assess the preparations of the facility and were met with approval.
"The equestrian project is extremely ambitious and, once it is ready, it will be on par with the best in the world,” noted Maribel Alonso de Quinzanos of Mexico who will act as the FEI Technical Delegate for dressage during the Pan American Games. “Some of the buildings have finishing touches pending, but if we held the event tomorrow, we could count on excellent footing in the main arena and the paddocks. Tropical storm ‘Claudette’ gave a true test when she passed over the Dominican Republic, but the arenas drained perfectly and the footing held up without a problem, indicating we will not have any inconveniences during the events.
“The stables couldn't be better, they are very well ventilated, spacious and have a central alley that will enable all participants to move about with comfort,” adds Alonso de Quinzanos.
Ensuring the comfort of the equine and human athletes allows both to focus on the job at hand, in this case, winning medals. As the defending champions, the United States are once again favoured to win gold. California’s Kristina Harrison-Naness riding Kantor won the USET Selection Trials while Olympian Carol Lavell and Much Ado, Jan Ebeling with a choice of Feleciano or Liberte, and Pierre St. Jacques and Lucky Tiger round out the team. Susan Dutta and West Side Lady DC were named the alternates.
After claiming surprising team silver at the last edition of the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Colombia will once again be led by Dr. Cesar Parra, now based in the U.S., and the Hannoverian stallion, Pik L. Joining Parra will be his students Cesar Torrente who will ride Parra’s seasoned mount, Adonis, and Eduardo Muñoz. Parra also coaches Gabriel Armando, a member of Argentina’s dressage team.
Mexico will again be strong with 1999 individual bronze medallist Bernadette Pujals and Vincent, a flashy stallion by Weltmeyer, leading the charge. Pujals’ husband, Antonio Rivera, will ride Bruno, Omar Zayrik will be aboard the grand prix schoolmaster, Haiko, and the experienced Joaquin Orth will be riding a new horse.
While the Canadian Team will be named following Selection Trials held July 17-20, a medal would serve as redemption following a fourth place finish on home turf in 1999.
Individually, Santo Domingo’s own Yvonne Losos de Muñiz is a strong medal contender following a winning winter season on the Palm Beach show circuit. Consistently scoring in the mid to high 70’s riding Inatana Las Marismas, a 13-year-old bay Dutch Warmblood mare by Latano, Losos de Muñiz has a strong chance at winning the first Pan Am medal for the Dominican Republic.
In order to encourage as many nations as possible to participate in the Pan American Games, the competition is held at the Intermediare level instead of Grand Prix, meaning Olympic qualification is not available in Santo Domingo. Results from the Prix St. Georges will determine the team medallists while the results of all three tests – Prix St. Georges, Intermediare I and Intermediare Musical Freestyle, will decide the individual winners.
Officiating at the dressage events will be Mariette Whitages of Belgium who will act as head of the ground jury, Lissette Purcell of the Dominican Republic, Gotthilf Reixinger of Germany, Axel Steiner of the United States and Cara Whitham of Canada.
For further information on the equestrian events at the Pan American Games, please visit the Dominican Republic Equestrian Federation’s website at: www.ecuestrerd.com and the official 2003 Pan American Games website at www.santodomingo2003.com.