Caledon, Ont. – The U.S. Pan American Dressage Team took the lead today by a narrow margin over Canada in the first day of team competition at the 2015 Pan American Games. Ten teams entered the main arena at the Caledon Equestrian Park to perform the FEI Prix St. Georges test and FEI Grand Prix test before the ground jury of Elizabeth McMullen, Lilo Fore, Hans Christian Matthiesen, Maribel Alonso, and Stephen Clarke. Thirty-four competitors rode in the Prix St. Georges with the United States’ Kimberly Herslow and Sabine Schut-Kery placing third and seventh, respectively, overall.
In the Grand Prix, nine combinations went down center line with the United States’ Steffen Peters topping the leaderboard and Laura Graves taking fourth place overall. The U.S. leads the team standing on 230.504, just ahead of Canada in second on 226.071.
Anchoring the U.S. team and leading in individual standings is veteran Peters with Four Winds Farm’s Legolas 92. The pair put in one of their best FEI Grand Prix tests to date, scoring 77.240% in a test that showcased the gelding’s brilliant piaffe and passage.
“He was very nervous coming in and I took every second I had to get him settled. I was very excited when he stood still for the first halt and then from there it was a flawless test,” said Peters of Legolas 92. “It was one of the best Grand Prix tests of his career. That I can deliver this for my team; it is exactly what I was hoping for.”
Herslow and Kiroli Enterprises LLC’s Rosmarin entered into their first Games arena with confidence and were rewarded with a personal best score in the FEI Prix St. Georges test, a 75.184%. Coming off a hugely successful summer tour in Europe, the pair held nothing back in the test highlighted by bold extensions.
“Overall I am really happy with my horse, we had a couple little mistakes, but I could not be more proud of him,” said Herslow of longtime partner Rosmarin. “He is always on his game, so it really comes down to me and having the right focus, and today we were really on. I have been aiming for these Pan American Games for two years now and to have him come in and be that amazing – what more could you ask for, he loves his job.”
Standing in fourth overall and placing second in the Grand Prix, Graves and her own Verdades put forth an energetic and consistent test to score 75.080%. Despite a bobble in the one-tempi changes, the pair excelled through the test.
“Today he was the most focused he has been in a really long time. We had a mistake in the one-tempi changes, which I take total fault for; overall he felt really nice in my hand and was really going – he did not put a foot wrong,” said Graves of Verdades, the gelding who she has owned and trained since he was a yearling.
Entering the main arena for the U.S. first this morning in the Small Tour was Schut-Kery and Alice Womble’s Sanceo. The nine-year-old gelding performed an expressive test and, despite a couple of bobbles, recovered well to score a 71.790%.
“We had a couple rider errors out there, but he was focused and energetic so I am very pleased with our test,” said Schut-Kery.
In the new format for the 2015 Pan American Games, in which teams are comprised of both Small and Big Tour combinations, the teams receive a 1.5% bonus for each Big Tour combination in the FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Special tests. There are four teams competing in the Pan American Games with Big Tour combinations: Argentina with two Big Tour combinations, Canada with two Big Tour combinations, Mexico with one Big Tour Combination, and the United States with two Big Tour combinations.
Team medals will be determined tomorrow as combinations return to the arena to perform the FEI Intermediaire I and FEI Grand Prix Special tests in the Small and Big Tour respectively. With Canada putting in excellent performances in day one, day two should prove to be a close and exciting contest for the Team Gold. The U.S. Team will go in the same order at the following times:
1. Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo, 11:34 a.m. ET
2. Kimberly Herslow and Rosmarin, 2:39 p.m. ET
3. Laura Graves and Verdades, 4:20 p.m. ET
4. Steffen Peters and Legolas 92, 5:10 p.m. ET
Behind the Scenes with the U.S. Teams: USEF Sport Director Will Connell’s Blog