Freestyle in full focus as individual Dressage medals hang in the balance

Pan American Games in Santiago, Chili 2023 -- Renderson SILVA DE OLIVEIRA with Fogoso Campline(BRA) during 2nd horse inspection for dressage at the Pan American Games Santiago, Chile 2023 Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman
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Everything Horse Magazine

19th PanAm Games – Santiago 2023, written by Louise Parkes

After the intense excitement of The Team competition during the 19th PanAm Games, in which the USA took gold and Brazil and Canada claimed silver and bronze along with qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, attention has turned to the individual Dressage Freestyle title-decider at the Pan American Games 2023 in Quilotta, Chile.

The second horse inspection took place this morning, and 20 horse-and-rider combinations from 10 countries will come before judges Carlos Lopes (POR), Michael Osinski (USA), Magnus Ringmark (SWE), Cara Whitham (CAN) and Cesar Torrente (COL) to battle it out for the individual medals. A draw was held after the trot-up, and it will be Colombia’s Maria Alejandra Aponte Gonzalez and Lord of the Dance who will be first into the ring at 11.00 local time on Wednesday.

Pan American Games in Santiago, Chili 2023 -- Impaciente PH carries his own crop with Maria UGRYUMOVA at the Pan American Games Santiago, Chile 2023
Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman
Pan American Games in Santiago, Chili 2023 — Impaciente PH carries his own crop with Maria UGRYUMOVA at the Pan American Games Santiago, Chile 2023. Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman

No more than three combinations from the same country may participate in this final competition, and of the 20 starters there will be four Small Tour partnerships doing Intermediate l Freestyle while the 16 Big Tour contenders will perform at Grand Prix Freestyle level. Four countries – Brazil, Canada, Mexico and USA – have three combinations through to this final test and, as has happened all week, Big Tour riders will have a 3% bonus added to their scores.

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The combination with the best result will win gold, the second best will win silver and the third best will win bronze. If there is a tie for the medals, the Big Tour combination will finish ahead of the Small Tour combination and if there is a tie between combinations in the same tour (Small or Big), the best result in the Int I/GPS will finish ahead. 

All of the biggest scorers of the week are in the final group, and first to go of these are the defending champions from the USA, Sarah Tubman and First Apple who will step into the ring 14.00.

Biggest battle

The biggest battle may well be fought between the Grand Prix Special winners Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike from Ecuador and Brazil’s João Marcari Oliva who topped the line-up in Sunday’s Grand Prix. 

Oliva is competing his reserve horse, Feel Good VO, because it was decided just a couple of weeks ago that his intended ride Escorial Campline was not fit to compete. Despite the last-minute change things have worked out very nicely indeed.

Like Oliva, Ecuador’s Mendoza Loor has a long-held tradition of horsemanship in his family, in both Spain and in Quito in Ecuador where his father ran a riding school. Now based in North Carolina, USA and married to US Dressage Federation silver medallist Jessica Mendoza, he says he owes all his success to her – “I asked God for a woman, and he gave me an angel!”, he said after topping the Special. 

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But there will be precious little romance in the air when the action gets underway at the Chilean Army Equitation Centre in Quillota with individual Pan American Games glory up for grabs.

Tubman won’t be giving anything away for free and her US team-mate Anna Marek won’t either. But one of the most appealing partnerships at the event so far has been Brazil’s Renderson Silva de Oliveira and the Lusitano Fogoso Campline who have been really impressive all week. Oliveira says he wants to do his country proud, and especially the Brazilian people for whom “life is hard”. 

Pan American Games in Santiago, Chili 2023 -- Renderson SILVA DE OLIVEIRA with Fogoso Campline(BRA) during 2nd horse inspection for dressage at the Pan American Games Santiago, Chile 2023 Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman
Pan American Games in Santiago, Chili 2023. Renderson SILVA DE OLIVEIRA with Fogoso Campline(BRA) during 2nd horse inspection for dressage at the Pan American Games Santiago, Chile 2023 Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman

Together with the stallion he has won his way into the hearts of many this week and there won’t be a dry eye in the house if he finds his way onto the medal podium.

Eventers

Meanwhile, the Eventers have arrived ahead of their first horse inspection on Thursday, having previously schooled over fences in the main arena as the sun at last came out after several days hidden behind clouds. 

Fresh from his runner-up finish with Grafennacht at CCI5*-L in Maryland, USA, at the weekend, five-time Olympian, multiple champion and coach Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt turned up, ready to put the Brazilian team through their paces.

For now however it is still the Dressage horses and riders who are holding centre stage ahead of one more day of what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the Pan American Games 2023 in their discipline, so don’t miss a hoofbeat……

Startlists and results here

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