While the biggest focus was on those last three riders, it is all of the riders that deserve to be recognized starting with the first two who kicked off the course with fault free rounds. After both the dressage and the cross-country rounds the starting field of 43 horses in show jumping for the Pan American Games eventing competition was down to 32 for the final round. The U.S. was in the lead (133) with less than a rail ahead of Brazil (136.70) but a few poles ahead of Canada (159) after they lost Kathryn Robinson’s potential score when she fell at fence #2 on the cross-country.
Setting the pace as the first and second riders to go were Sarka Kolackova, riding Sir Royal for Guatemala, followed by Juan Carlos Tafur and the stallion Quinto, from Columbia. Juan lucked out when he chipped fence #9 a single fence set on an angle. Although it appeared he might have a problem there in fact no fences fell. (32nd overall)
Chilean rider Guillermo Garin had one time fault riding Ubago. Although they chipped fence #3, a vertical, it stayed up. They knocked down a rail at #6, which was positioned right after the triple combination. They also had a chip and downed another rail at the second part of the double combination 10b, which would end up being the fence that fell the most for many of the riders. They finished on 9 faults added to their score. (31st overall, team 5th)
Rodrigo Abella Lemme rode SVR Arbitro for Uruguay. They had a rail down after approaching fence #4 on a bad angle and then he too had the second part of the combination down after he chipped 10a and got too close to 10b. They added one time fault and totaled 9 faults. (29th overall, team 11th)
Edison Quintana Valerio rode the Uruguayan Sport Horse mare SVR Capoeira II also for Uruguay. They skated over a couple of the fences so closely that in the combination they rolled a fence but it did not fall. Overall they got to each fence at a nice distance and ended with a fault free round. (26th overall, team 11th)
Santiago Medina Negrete rode Ritmical EJC for Columbia. Santiago, who has competed in a World Equestrian Games, had a fault free round after a nice ride, except for a close call at the 2nd fence in the combination 10ab when they tried to fit in two strides. (25th overall, team 8th)
The next rider, Guillermo De Campo riding Quelite, a Mexican Sport Horse stallion, for Mexico was also fault free. And the crowd rewarded them with a cheer. (23rd overall, team 6th)
He was followed by his teammate Jose Mercado riding Romana, a mare. She was a little nervous as they entered the arena. But once they started around the arena it was all business and the finished just under the time allowed, with yet another clear go to a happy Mexican team. (22nd overall, team 6th)
A Columbian rider entered the arena next. Jhonatan Rodriguez rode Nilo. Their problems happened right away as they ended up downing five rails (1, 4, 5 b and c and 10b) and added 23 points to their score with time faults. They had a very tight chip at fence 10b and you knew this even if you weren’t looking because of the concern voiced by the crowd of people that packed the arena. (28th overall, team 8th)
The second rider for Uruguay was up next. Francisco Calvelo, as the youngest competitor, was riding the Dutch Bred gelding, Noir de la Muralla. They negotiated a wonderful fault free round and while the horse often raises its head between fences as soon as it starts to head to the fence the head goes down and the horse stays focused. (21st overall, team 7th)
Argentina’s Luciano Claudio Brunello rode the Argentinian bred gelding Erevan. They knocked down the very first fence but that was the only pole they dropped. And even though he had that one rail Luciano was supper pleased with his horse and gave him a thumbs up with a thumbs down point to his horse. That was his way of thanking and recognizing his horse. (20th overall, team 9th)
The first and only El Salvador rider to compete in this final round was Sofia Baussan Augspuer, riding the Selle Francais gelding, Durango. They downed a rail early in the course. They rolled the top poles at fences 3 and at 5a but both stayed up. However when they hit #8 it came down. As they were about to jump fence 10a the horse abruptly refused, but took it easily the second time but almost stopped at the b element. They had both time and jumping faults. (24th overall, no team)
Chilean rider rode Versailles, a mare. Sergio Iturrigiara was a Team Silver Medalist at the South American Championships last year and represented Chile in the Beijing Olympic Games. The horse sailed over the fences with room to spare but caught the front element of the very last fence and took it down. (19th overall, team 5th)
The very first rider from Venezuela was Elena Ceballos Alvarez. She rode the Selle Francais gelding, Nounour Du Moulin. In the Guadalajara Pan Am Games they placed 5th individually. After entering the arena, Nounour raced around the course a little too quickly but jumped well and cleared all the fences for a fault free round. (16th overall, team 10th)
When the first Canadian entered the arena a huge cheer welcome them. Waylon Roberts, a Team Silver Medalist in the Rio Pan Am Games, was riding Bill Owen, a Canadian Sport Horse. Before taking off at a canter he had his horse back up, probably to get him to pay attention to his requests. They had a smooth almost fault free round but the ohhh of the crowd took place when they dropped a rail at the very last fence. (17th overall, team Bronze)
After Waylon completed the course the crew went to work smoothing out the arena for the final group of riders. Fifteen minutes later the first rider from Ecuador entered the arena. Nicolas Wettstein was riding the Selle Francais gelding Onzieme Framoni. They set the pace for the next group of riders by going right to the top after a fault free round. (13th overall, team 4th)
Another first was Puerto Rican rider Lauren Billys aboard the Irish Sport Horse gelding Castle Larchfield Purdy. The accumulated 12 faults after knocking down three fences. (18th overall, no team)
Yet another first was Ecuadorian rider Carlos Narvaez. They had also competed in the 2011 Guadalajara Pan American Games. They had an unlucky rail at the first fence in the triple combination. (14th overall, team 4th)
Now it was time for a Brazilian rider to face the course. Since the team was standing in the Silver position, his score was important. Henrique Plombon South American Championship Indivudual Silver Medalist who showed why he and his Holsteiner mare Land Quenotte were medal contenders as they charged off after their last fence having put in a fault free round. (10th overall, team Silver)
The next rider was the second on competing for Mexico. Daniela Moguela put in a conservative round especially before the green oxer fence #4 and just before the triple combination. However when she and her mare Cecelia got to that bogie fence number 10b, they joined the many riders who accumulated faults at this fence. (12th overall, team 6th)
Now it was time for the third Ecuadorian rider, Ronald Zabala, to face the course with his Irish Sport Horse gelding. Rails came down for them at the 4, 8, and 10b fences for a total of 12 jump faults. (15th overall, team 4th)
Brazil again was ready to fight for a medal when Marcio Carvahlo Jorge entered the arena on the Westfalian mare Lissy Mac Wayer. A fault free round with a second to go brought a cheer from the VIP crowd. (9th overall, team Silver)
We were now down to the final nine riders, starting with Canadian Colleen Loach riding Qorry Bue D’Argouges, a Selle Francais gelding. They entered the arena to waving flags and cheers from the crowd. They were a little quick through the combination and scary close to the last fence but Qorry took care of his rider and kept al the rails up for a fault free ride and roars and cheers from the crowd. (8th overall, team Bronze)
Up next was Phillip Dutton for the U.S. team that going in were standing in the Gold Medal position. This five-time Olympian galloped into the ring on the Irish Sport Horse gelding Fernhill Fugitive. They negotiated the course with the skill of a true veteran but had an unlucky rail at fence #2. (10th overall, team Gold)
Teammate Lauren Kieffer was up next and knowing that Dutton had a rail down put some pressure on her since the Brazilians had already put in two fault free rides. Lauren and mare Meadowbrooks Scarlett negotiated the round smoothly and added no faults to their score. (7th overall, team Gold)
Now it was Brazilian Carlos Parro who had some pressure on him. They had a loud knock at fence #4 but that pole stayed up and they finished their course with a punch in the air after a fault free go. Now three rides all fault free meant in order to keep their Gold Medal lead the remaining U.S. riders would have to go clear, since the Brazilian’s still had a drop score in the bag. (6th overall, team Silver)
In between the challenge between the U.S. Brazil and Canada was Chilean Carlos Lobos, riding Ranco, a Selle Francais Gelding. He was one of five riders to go. They rode aggressively to the triple and the last line finding a good distance and finishing on a clear round and finished a respectable 5th overall and their team was 5th.
U.S. rider Boyd Martin was next with hopes of a clear go. They had an unusual approach to the first fence in that they did a tight u-turn off the rail and continued with a fault free go. The Americans were looking good with just one rider to go as well as one Canadian and one Brazilian. (4th overall, team Gold)
That Canadian was Jessica Phoenix who was riding the Westfalian gelding Pavarotti and to the delight of the crowd not a rail fell and they finished with the score the came in on. So, now it was up to the next two riders to decide the medals. (individual Silver, team Silver)
The first of two was Marilyn Little riding the Oldenburg mare RF Scandalous. When they finished fault free that secured the Gold medal for the U.S. team and meant she could get no lower than Silver.
However when Ruy Fonseca dropped a rail that meant the U.S. team claimed both the Team and Individual Gold Medals, Brazil took the Team Silver, Canada Bronze, Phoenix Individual Silver and Fonseca Bronze.
It also meant the U.S. riders had secured their berth to the Olympics in Rio next year. It truly was a happy day for all three of these countries.