Canada and US divide medals evenly at the first FEI regional championship for the Americas.
Dressage history was made at the spectacular Parc Équestre de Blainville on July 17th to 21st, where the continent's newest FEI dressage competition, the Coupe Des Ameriques, was hosted. At a meeting in January of this year, the FEI approved the concept for a dressage championship that would bring together competitors from all over the Americas, and the Coupe Des Ameriques was born.
Its status with the FEI is that of a regional championship, such as the European Championships, though the format is somewhat different, to reflect the demographics of the participating regions. The number of riders per team is just two, making it possible for more countries to compete for team medals. Riders may compete on borrowed horses - another modification to the championship formula that is designed to make participation possible for countries who may not be able to transport or provide horses.
Team medals are awarded on the basis of only one medal per country. Without such a rule, it would be possible for a single country that sends three teams to win all the medals. While this was a testing ground for the Coupe's format, FEI Dressage president Mariette Withages was pleased with the outcome. As president of the ground jury at Blainville, she had an opportunity to see the policy in action. "I must say that I'm rather pleased with the formula."
Grand Prix Title for Nancy MacLahlan
The Coupe Des Ameriques offered team and individual championships for Juniors, Young Riders, Small Tour and Grand Prix. Canada and the US sent two or three teams in each division; Colombia, Argentina, The Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Barbados sent individuals or teams. The medal race was close between Canada and the US in all four divisions.
The Canadian team of Nancy MacLachlan on Davis Cup and Belinda Trussel on Royan II carried away team gold in the Grand Prix division. Nancy and Davis Cup dominated all three classes in the Coupe - the Grand Prix (64.92%), Grand Prix Speciale (66.08%) and Grand Prix Freestyle (69.72%) - winning the individual gold medal in addition to team gold.
The silver medal went to the American team of Cherri Reiber on G Tudor and Leonie Baker on Masterpiece; Bronze was awarded to a second US team, Pamela Goodrich on Melville and Susan Dutta on Gumshoes-DC.
Heavy Medal Weekend for Susan Dutta
It was a 'heavy medal' weekend for Susan Dutta of Wellington, Florida. She made a clean sweep of the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire and Intermediaire Freestyle classes, winning individual gold with the stunning ten year old mare Westside Lady-DC. She and team-mate Nancy Later of Brewster, New York and the Swedish gelding Manster (who finished with individual silver), took team gold for the US in the Small Tour.
Canada's best small tour team finish of Silver was won by Tom Dvorak on Lenz, who also took individual bronze, and Gary Vander Ploeg on Ivanicevic.
Team Bronze went to the Dominican Republic's team of Yvonne Losos de Muñiz on Inatana Las Marismas and George Fernández on Lando Lee Las Marismas. The Dominicans found the competition at Blainville to be a valuable experience at an important time for them.
Based primarily in the Dominican Republic, Losos de Muñiz says that opportunities to gain international competition experience are extremely rare. "We do very well at home competing against each other, but we need this kind of atmosphere to learn how to compete."
The Dominican Republic will host the 2003 Pan Am Games, and she has high hopes that there will be a full team of four representing the host country in dressage.
Individual Gold for Lindsey Koffler
In the Young Riders division, strong performances from Americans Lindsay Koffler on Alfredo and Martin Kuhn on Romulus brought more gold to the US team and an individual gold medal for the eighteen year old Koffler. Canada's team of Tina Busse on Amicelli and Whitney Harris on Hermes, were silver medallists, and a second US team, Jacqueline Paxton on Sangmelima and Jessica Rizzi on Ballywhim Ardan Mor took the bronze. Busse and Amicelli edged out Kuhn and Romulus to take the individual silver medal.
The junior division belonged to Canada: sixteen year old Amy McIlwham of Ottawa and her eleven year old Westphalian gelding Favorit led the way to individual gold, as well as team gold with fellow Canadian Stephanie Chalaturnyk on Dunkaschon.
Team silver was awarded to the American team of Amanda Garrett on Great Experience and Mary Claire Massey on Scrabble, and bronze to a second Canadian team of Rebecca Elming on Domingo and Julie Watchorn on Darius. The individual silver and bronze medals went, respectively, to Mary Claire Massey on Scrabble, and Calgary Alberta's Pia Virginia Fortmuller on Alascan.
FEI Pony Division Class, a First for North America
The CDI-W offered classes at all FEI levels, including another first for North America - an FEI pony division. Roz Farber, Dressage Canada's program leader for domestic development, was the driving force behind the inclusion of ponies in the CDI-W. The biggest challenge was to get enough entries to hold the class; its inclusion in the CDI was based on a guarantee that there would be at least six ponies. Farber got in touch with Lendon Gray. Gray told Farber that she would make sure there were ponies representing the US at the CDI-W. She was good on her word: two of the eight ponies at the show came from the US. The winner of the team test was Canadian Andrea Martin on Dale Donar's pony Eastlands Glendearg, and the individual test and kur to music were won by American Meagan Davis on Van Gogh.
The CDI-W small tour saw an impressive number of entries. In all, twenty horses competed in the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire classes. Canadian riders dominated the division: Jo Anne Mintz and Koriedon won the Prix St. Georges; in the Intermediaire class, Jon Costin and Rebel Kartoon improved on their second place finish in the Prix St. Georges to take top honours. The Intermediaire freestyle was ridden on Saturday evening to a sold out crowd of several thousand spectators. Thirty-four year old Jacqueline Brooks of Cedar Valley, Ontario, rode the seven year old Oldenburg Gran Gesto to a win in his first ever freestyle performance.
The Grand Prix division of the CDI-W had just five entries. Neil Ishoy won the Grand Prix with Andiamo Tyme and a score of 67.1%, but did not compete in the freestyle on Saturday night. Shannon Dueck and Korona put on an electrifying performance with their new "Classical with a twist" freestyle, and won the class with a score of 69.13%.
Canadian Team Selection for 2002 WEG
The Blainville CDI-W and Coupe Des Ameriques was the final qualifying competition for Canadians looking for a spot on the team at the World Equestrian Games in September of this year. The team was announced at a press conference on July 21st. Canada's dressage team for WEG 2002 is as follows, in descending order of rank:
Nancy MacLachlan and Davis Cup
Shannon Dueck and Korona
Ashley Holzer and Imperioso
Neil Ishoy and Andiamo Tyme
Belinda Trussell and Royan II - first reserve
Evi Strasser and Pryme Tyme - second reserve
DressageDaily would like to thank Karen Robinson, and Kathryn Eitutis for providing the coverage for FEI Dressage Championhsip of the Americas, Blainville Equestrian Park and we look forward to joining them soon in Spain for the 2002 World Equestrian Games.