Friday, May. 24, 2024

All U.S. Riders Double Clean On Cross-Country Day, Phoenix And Pavarotti Maintain Lead At Pan Am Games

Oct. 22—Guadalajara, Mexico

All five U.S. eventing riders had a banner cross-country day at the Pan American Games, without a single rider picking up a penalty. Jessica Phoenix had the same faultless result on Pavarotti, so she stayed on top of the leaderboard for Canada on her dressage score of 43.9.

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Oct. 22—Guadalajara, Mexico

All five U.S. eventing riders had a banner cross-country day at the Pan American Games, without a single rider picking up a penalty. Jessica Phoenix had the same faultless result on Pavarotti, so she stayed on top of the leaderboard for Canada on her dressage score of 43.9.

With their perfect score, the United States leads the team competition on yesterday’s mark of 138.6, followed by Canada, on 160.5. Jesper Martendel and Land Jimmy put in one of the day’s eight double-clear performances to help Brazil hold onto third (189.8).

Phoenix and Pavarotti tackled the course 17th of the 49 starters, the second Canadian to go. She changed her plan at the first water complex, angling two fences rather than a square turn after it proved a tougher ride than expected, which worked out well. Phoenix gave the Westphalian a confident ride as he bounded around John Williams’ rolling track.

“I thought the hills were really neat to ride on today,” said Phoenix, Uxbridge, Ontario. “I think the footing felt good and the jumps jumped well. It was a real honor to ride here.”

But Phoenix heads into show jumping day with all five U.S. riders breathing down her neck. First among those: Michael Pollard. He and Schoensgreen Hanni didn’t put a foot wrong all day to finish with 44.5 penalties, a full 15 seconds within the time allowed.

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“She was spot on everywhere,” said Pollard of the German Sport Horse mare. “There were a couple fences here and there that we had to just make happen. She was really good on the time and galloped home well. She jumped great and was just a perfect horse to ride.

 “Seeing three of my teammates clear and inside the time, you don’t want to be the one that screws it up,” he continued.

Harbour Pilot and Hannah Sue Burnett may be third, but on a score of 45.2, they’re less than a rail off the lead heading into show jumping. Burnett looked focused as she guided the Irish Sport Horse by Cruising.

“I had a bit of a bobble in the water at the bank (at 17B),” said Burnett, The Plains, Va. “I went for a bit of a long one, because I wanted to go forward. He landed real steep, but he popped back up, and he always looks for the flags. He really enjoyed it—he was really into it.”

Buck Davidson survived a hairy few minutes when the top of his stirrup broke on the last hill, right before the coffin, still several fences from home. He dug in aboard Absolute Liberty and made it through the last few jumps double clear to hold onto fourth. Anchor rider Shannon Lilley and Ballingowan Pizzaz still sit fifth, and Lynn Symansky’s great run on Donner moved her up from 10th to sixth.

“She was amazing. Every place she needed to look after me she did,” said Davidson. “What more could you ask of her? She did everything like it was a training level.”

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But it certainly wasn’t a training level course. Williams’ two-star track got the best of plenty of horses and riders. Casualties included Puerto Rican rider Lauren Billys and Ballingowan Ginger, seventh yesterday, who fell late on course, and Colombian rider Alexander Lopez, who took a tumble at the last fence when that horse tired there. Both horses and riders walked away. Ruy Fronseca Filho—sixth yesterday—watched Tom Bombadill Too tour the Santa Sofia Golf Club for a while after he hit the dirt early on course, and Chilean mount Navideño fell at the coffin. He and rider Felipe Antonio Martinez walked away.

No doubt the hills on the 5,225-meter track and nearly mile-high altitude didn’t help. Most of those not too tired to cross the finish line picked up time penalties.  

“I think the biggest change in our strategy was the crowd,” said Carlos Conejo, who rode Prometeu Equus for Mexico. “We’re not used to having 15,000 people—we usually have about five. So going to the table at fence 5 and into the water the horses saw the people yelling and got impressed.”

The horses shipped back to La Hípca late this afternoon in a motorcade. The remaining field—which now stands at 31 of today’s 49 starters—will jog tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. and show jump twice at La Hípica to determine individual and team medals. The top three scores from each nation count toward the team score.

Visit the official Pan American Games site for individual and team standings, click here.

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