Lima, Peru—July 28
Since Team USA arrived in Peru, Chef d’Equipe Debbie McDonald has been sending inspirational quotes to her team, hoping to keep them in a positive mindset. Last night’s was a simple one: “Let’s do this.”
That affirmation worked, as all three team members posted strong scores to jump to the top of the leaderboard after Day 1 of team competition. But they’ve got some serious competition. Canada sits second, just .1 points behind the stars and stripes, and Brazil is in third.
“This is just half the competition; we have tomorrow too,” said McDonald. “I think we have to wait and see, but I could not be happier with the riders and their horses today.”
Anchor rider Sarah Lockman, Wildomar, California, led the charge, putting in a personal best aboard her relatively new partner First Apple. Her score of 76.08 percent was the highest of the day, ahead of Canada’s Tina Irwin (Laurencio) followed by Canada’s Lindsay Kellock and Floratina.
“I’m overwhelmed with happiness,” Lockman said. “He was super. He came out super today in the warm-up and was 100 percent with me. Like I’ve said before he goes around that ring and is like, ‘I am here!’ So that’s definitely what I felt the whole time. He was answering every question I gave him perfectly. There were little things that I think we can still improve on, and I think he can be better tomorrow, but I’m more than happy with that obviously.
“This is a personal best in a CDI, and I’m very happy to be able to do that when it counts the most,” she said. “I think I hopefully helped ease everybody’s thoughts with me being a rookie. I’m really happy I could be the anchor rider and pull it off for my team.”
Lockman’s teammates, Jennifer Baumert on Handsome and Nora Batchelder on Faro SQF sit fourth and fifth respectively. Baumert put in a mistake-free test aboard Betsy Juliano’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding.
“I was really happy with how Handsome handled the environment,” she said. “He just lit up when he went in there and got all big. I was like, ‘Oh this is going to be nice.’ For the most part I was super happy with the performance. Toward the end he got a little too much go, but you know what? I can’t complain.”
Batchelder faced a hiccup in the warm-up when one of her billets broke, and she had to compete with just three. (“Debbie was like, ‘Perfect balance! Perfect balance!’ “) She went on to a lovely test with just one bobble in the walk-canter transition.
“I think maybe a little lack of focus just for an instant,” she said. “I was shortening the reins up, and he took a peek up to the right then we were to the letter, and we weren’t quite organized.
“He tried really hard, and I thought overall his canter work was pretty strong, and the trot was accurate,” she continued. “I was proud of him.”
Riders will return tomorrow for the second half of the team competition. Small tour riders—including all the U.S. combinations—will perform the Intermediaire I test, while large tour riders have the Grand Prix Special.
Questions about the format of the Games? We’ve got answers.
Two of Canada’s riders will be riding that test, hoping to move into the lead or at very least maintain second in order to secure Olympic qualification. (The United States is already qualified thanks to a silver medal at the Tryon World Equestrian Games, so Canada can finish second behind them and still punch their ticket to Tokyo.)
Second to go for Team Canada, Irwin was thrilled with her Prix St Georges test, which scored 73.73 percent.
“I thought my horse first of all felt really solid today,” she said. “He gave me a really good feeling from the get-go in the warm-up. He was very consistent in the contact, perfectly on my aids. He felt great. I thought, ‘I’m going to have a good ride.’ He came into the stadium and perked up a little bit but in a good way. He felt really solid throughout. I rode the extensions a little conservatively being the first day of the team event, so I definitely have more room to push there. The rest I was really happy with.”
Kellock saw her hard work at home with Floratina paying off.
“We’ve been working a lot on getting her trot a little bit fancier,” she said. “I thought her extensions were much better. She had more lift, more suspension in the trot work. Of course her changes are a highlight. And a simple thing; the walk pirouettes we’ve been working really hard on. I thought those were much stronger today. Overall I would say it was one of my best rides for sure.”
- Three combinations were rung out for unsoundness: Chile’s Barbara Weber Kunstmann and Entusiasta, Argentina’s Luis Maria Zone and Faberge d’Atela, and Uruguay’s José Ramón Beca Borrego on Zaire. That meant that three-member teams from Chile and Argentina were eliminated. Borrego was riding as an individual.
- Of the 38 riders who competed on Day 1, only five elected to wear top hats, and two wore their military hats, with the rest strapping on safety helmets.
- A minimum of 10 Iberian horses competed.
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