While team USA has a slim lead in the team eventing after dressage going into the cross country competiton, at the Pan American Games, it is Ruy Fonseca riding Tom Bombadill Too (dark brown gelding, Holsteiner, Carry) who is leading in the individual standings after a score of 38.90, followed by Robinson with 39.80 and Little on 40.30. Fonseca’s mount is one of those lucky find stories. It was a young girl that was riding the former livery horse when Tom was then 9 years old. One day after sitting on the horse Fonseca realized this was more than just a livery horse and in less than a year they were competing in the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games. Now here they are again leading the way at a Pan American Games.
Fonseca like all the other riders is excited to face the challenge of this cross-country course where the tests are spread throughout the course. Yet the greater challenge may end up being the expected record heat added to a tough course over a windy path, with no steep hills but lots of ups and downs and plenty of color. A total of 42 riders are ready to face the cross-country course at the Pan American Games in Toronto, CAN. They were checked out on Thursday, July 16 in the first horse inspection to ensure they are fit for the challenge. Then on Friday they had their chance to test their dressage skills, in the first of three phases.
The results now have them placed with the United States team of Phillip Dutton aboard Fernhill Fugitive (bay gelding, ISH, sire Lux Z), Lauren Kieffer riding Meadowbrooks Scarlett (bay mare, sire All In Black), Marilyn Little aboard RF Scandalous (bay mare, Oldenburg, sire Carry Gold) and Boyd Martin riding Pancho Villa (bay gelding, SF, sire Icarus de Carolina) standing in first place.
Their score of 133.00 is barely ahead of the Canadian team of Waylon Roberts riding Bill Owen (bay gelding, CSHA, sire Money Talks), Colleen Loach aboard Qorry Blue D’Argouges (grey gelding, SF, sire Mr. Blue), Kathryn Robinson on Let It Bee (black, gelding, Westfalian, sire Lamerto) and Jessica Phoenix on Pavarotti (bay gelding, Westfalian, sire Pavarotti VD Helle) in 133.70.
Just three points behind with 136.70 are the Brazilian team of Carlos Parro riding Caulcourt Landline (brown gelding, AES, sire Land Joker), Henrique Plombon on Land Quenotte (bay mare, Holsteiner, sire Landritter), Ruy Fonseca riding Tom Bombadill Too (dark brown gelding, Holsteiner, Carry) and Marcio Carvalho Jorge and Lissy Mac Wayer (bay mare, Westfalian, sire Loomedon).
The riders have all walked the course multiple times and it is up to them to guide their horses over a course they’ve never had the chance to see. And so lots of trust, good riding and attention to how their horses are doing will ultimately decide the outcome.
The cross-country is truly the toughest part of this three phase event and placings can change in an instant. Team USA doesn’t want their order to change since this is a critical event for them if they want to compete in next year’s Olympic Games. To secure their berth they must either take the gold medal or place no less than Bronze behind two teams that are already qualified (Canada and Brazil are two of those qualified teams).
So, like our dressage riders who faced and met the challenge by securing a team gold medal, the eventers are poised for that same result and will be riding cautiously but with determination to take all the straight routes while at the same time ensuring they complete the course.
In just one more day they will face the toughest part of their gold medal goal will the final test coming on Sunday in the show jumping. But even if Canada or Brazil place before the U.S. they can still go home with their mission accomplished as long as they are standing on the podium.
They have a tough race to win, because equally focused are the Canadians and the Brazilians. On home turf the Canadians have put together a team that is tough and ready to face-off. And with the Olympics happening in their home country of Brazil, these riders are determined to show they’ve got what it takes.
So, in the end it will be the results of Saturday’s cross-country that will dictate the outcome. While there is no live stream, the scores are being posted with a slight delay. You are able to keep an eye on the outcome by going to Toronto.com while we’ll be here watching the outcome unfold right in front of us.
No matter what the result, what is most important is that every single rider keep in mind the safety of their horses while negotiating the course. No victory is worth taking chances and these riders will only ride to win if their horses are up to the challenge.
We’ll be watching anxiously to see how it all unfolds.