Oct. 17—Guadalajara, Mexico
U.S. dressage riders scored the top three spots in the race for the individual gold medal today at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Steffen Peters leads the way on Weltino’s Magic, after anchoring the United States to team gold yesterday.
The original field of 47 riders was whittled down to 25 for today’s Intermediaire I test. The top 15 will return for the final round of individual competition—the freestyle—on Thursday, Oct. 19.
Peter’s Intermediaire I mark of 78.07 percent didn’t quite meet his expectations, despite heading into Wednesday in the top spot.
“I don’t think it was quite as good as [yesterday’s] Prix St Georges,” he said. “We had one little fumble in the first extension; I just pushed him a little too hard, but the rest was really clean. He had really good pirouettes again, and the walk was as good as yesterday. So one little fumble but overall I’m very happy.”
Heather Blitz and Paragon improved on yesteday’s score, finishing right on Peters’ heels (77.18%). But she still didn’t have quite the day she was hoping for, with a bobble in the canter work on the Danish Warmblood (Blu Horse Don Schufro—Pari Lord).
“I was a little stressed in the ring. Between the warm-up and when I got to the ring for my performance something happened where I got a little bit on the wrong wavelength from him,” she said. “It’s hard to describe that, but he really took care of me in there; he knows his job well enough now. We had a couple of glitches, but he filled in in a lot of places.
“Considering what happened in the canter he regrouped for the pirouettes—that went well,” she continued. “He had great extensions again in the trot and canter and the tempi changes always kind of bring me back up if I make little errors. I am thrilled with the score and thrilled with the horse.”
Last to go for the day, Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme improved upon yesterday’s scores as well. She was obviously thrilled after an accurate test this afternoon that landed her in third (74.31%).
“He was incredible,” said Festerling, Moorpark, Calif. “I thought maybe he would be a little tired, but he was up for it. He had so much energy. I was trying to keep him back a little because he was just giving me everything he had. I’m ecstatic. I think it was one of the very best rides I’ve ever had on him, and it happened here so that’s even better.”
The fourth U.S. rider, Cesar Parra, rode Grandioso to sixth.
“Sometimes he takes a little advantage of me in the ring, but overall he is a very good boy,” he said of the Westphalian by Grosso Z. “He is a wonderful horse and is world class. All the judges love him. I’m very happy with the score here, a 72 percent. You have to earn it; you have to ride. I’m very happy, not to let down my team.”
Other Dressage Tidbits
• Yesterday nine riders broke the 70 mark, but today 12 riders, from six countries, exceeded that mark today.
• Three of today’s 25 riders went off course, including the first two of the day—Colombia’s Juan Mauricio Sanchez on First Fisherman and 18-year-old Anne Egerstrom on Amorino from Costa Rica—as well as Tom Dvorak and Viva’s Salieri W, who sits fourth for Canada.
•The United States is the only country to qualify all four of its team riders for the freestyle, but only the top three riders from any country will advance to the freestyle, so Cesar Parra will not compete on Wednesday. Mexico and Canada both have three riders competing.
•A variety of low-flying helicopters regularly patrol the neighborhood, but so far the horses haven’t seemed to mind during comeptition.
•The dressage and show jumping competition takes place at the Guadalajara Country Club, a private social and sports club in the middle of the city. Throughout the facility one can hear tennis games from just over the fence.
For full results visit http://info.guadalajara2011.org.mx/ENG/EQ/EQR173A_EQX00100150000001ENG.htm