Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024

Canada Clinches Gold Ahead Of Team USA

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Lima, Peru—July 29

As the first strains of “O Canada” rang out across the Escuela de Equitación de Ejército, Canadian fans, riders and support crew spontaneously started singing along. It was with good reason, as the team had just won its first Pan American Games team dressage gold medal in decades.

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Canadian fans went wild to hear that their team won gold. Mollie Bailey photos

Canada headed into today’s second day of team competition just off the lead behind the United States, but consistent rides from Tina Irwin (Laurencio), Lindsay Kellock (Floratina), Naima Moreira Laliberté (Statesman) and Jill Irving (Degas 12) boosted them to a solid 3-point lead and the team gold. The United States took silver, and a jubilant Brazil took bronze.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to win team gold,” said Irwin. “Canada had to win a team medal in order to qualify our country for the Olympics next year. There was a lot of pressure on our team to do that. Going into the competition, I said to the ladies, ‘We can do it; we can win gold. We have good horses and good riders, and we’re capable.’ Yesterday we were a close second behind the Americans. Today we brought our A-game, and we gave it our all.”

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The team of (from left) Jill Irving, Tina Irwin, Lindsay Kellock and Naima Moreira Laliberté clinched the first Pan American dressage gold medal for Canada in decades.

Questions about the format of the competition? We have answers

Irwin and Laurencio set the tone for their team, marking the second-highest score of the day, 73.85 percent.

“I needed to go with more energy today, so I did that,” Irwin said after her Intermediaire I test. “I was really happy with the energy and the expression. No risk, no gain, so I had a little bobble in my half-pass, which is a co-efficient, so unfortunately that will have cost me a little bit, but I don’t regret it because I think, ‘Go big or go home.’ You’ve got to go for it. You’ve got to push, so I’m happy that I did that today, and my horse felt great.”

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Tina Irwin scored the highest mark for Team Canada.

Kellock put in a strong test with just one bobble in her two-tempi changes on Floratina.

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“She was really flying in her trot extensions,” she said. “That was a weakness a while ago, and we’ve been working really hard on building her trot, and I felt even more than yesterday that the trot was way more elevated today. The pirouettes were quite good. All of her extended work, extended canter was good. I don’t have much to criticize. I’m thrilled.”

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Lindsay Kellock and Floratina performed first for Team Canada.

Laliberté followed with a strong Grand Prix Special test, securing the gold medal, so by the time Irving competed, the pressure was off.

“I think my test was really good,” said Laliberté. “It was steady and clean, which was the goal today. We achieved what was the plan, so I’m really happy about that. And we won gold! It’s unreal!”

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Naima Moreira Laliberté and Statesman rode the Grand Prix Special today for Canada.

Team USA was thrilled to have silver medals hung around their necks. With no drop score—though original team member Endel Ots was in Lima to lend his support—anchor rider Sarah Lockman clinched the second step of the podium with a lovely test with First Apple highlighted by excellent trotwork.

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Anchor rider Sarah Lockman on First Apple secured team silver for the United States.

“I put the same amount of pressure on myself whether I was riding first, middle or last,” she said. “My own pressure is more than anyone else could put on me. The team has been great and very supportive. The other girls rode their butts off. I think we’re all so proud of the performances we put in.”

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome had lovely test with just a bobble in their two-tempi changes.

“I’m very pleased with the energy and enthusiasm I had, but it cost us a couple of unfortunate mistakes,” she said. “And I’m sorry about that for our team, but my horse was giving it his all. The more the test goes on, he gets a little more boiling over, so by the end he’s kind of a lot of horse.”

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Jennifer Baumert waved to supporters after her test.

First to go for Team USA, Nora Batchelder on Faro SQF set the tone with a solid performance.

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“I thought the tempis were pretty good, and I thought the pirouettes were pretty good,” she said. “We warmed those up quite a bit with [Chef d’Equipe] Debbie [McDonald].”

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Nora Batchelder was first to go for Team USA.

The Brazilians were ecstatic to make it onto the podium and secure a coveted invitation to the Olympic Games.

“We are very happy with this qualification,” said team member João Victor Marcari Oliva. “We came here for this, we trained for this, so thank you to my teammates and to everybody who is behind us. Now we have to celebrate!”

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Pedro Manuel Tavares de Almeida and Aoleo helped Brazil secure bronze and an Olympic ticket.

The top 18 riders will start over on Wednesday, July 31, with the clean-slate freestyle. That includes all three U.S. riders and Canadians Kellock, Laliberté and Irwin, but not Irving, as only three riders from any one nation may compete.

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Though Endel Ots was unable to compete after Lucky Strike suffered an injury, he came to Peru to support his teammates.

Have questions about the Pan Am Games? We’ve got answers. Follow along with the Chronicle as we bring you stories, news and photos from the Pan American Games. Check in at coth.com and make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook

Team Results

Intermediaire I Grand Prix

You can find full results by clicking on equestrian on the official Pan Am website.

Check out our July 22 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine, our Pan Am preview issue, for more information about the competitors, and be sure to read the September 2 issue to get full analysis from the Games. What are you missing if you don’t subscribe?

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