It’s been a very exciting first day of dressage at the Caledon Equestrian Park, located about an hour north of Toronto. The hot weather didn’t prevent anyone from putting it all out there. A number of riders enjoyed personal best performances–several of them in their major Games debut.
Sabine Schut-Kery led the way for Team USA with Sanceo. The only wrinkle in their ride was a small counting error in the four tempis. 71.790 percent would turn out to be the team’s dropped score at the end of today–a sign of the U.S. team’s strength that a score of almost 72 percent is the discard. Kimberly Herslow delivered a career milestone in her team debut with the powerful Rosmarin. A score of 75.184 percent is a personal best for them in the Prix St. Georges test.
Once all 34 of the small tour horses had competed, the nine Grand Prix horses went in the later afternoon. Canada was well in the lead after the small tour. Brittany Fraser and All In, first timers on the Canadian team, enjoyed a best ever result of 76.105 percent and a spot at the top of the leaderboard all the way until the last test of the day, when Steffen Peters and Legolas delivered a 77.240 percent test to put the U.S. firmly in the lead. Laura Graves and Verdades posted the day’s fourth best score of 75.080 percent. Verdades looked relaxed and correct, but Legolas was the star today.
Going into tomorrow’s team final (Intermediate I and Grand Prix Special), the U.S. is in the predicted first position, with Canada solidly in second. Mexico is third, but just barely ahead of Brazil. The new Pan Am formula has resulted in some head scratching. The 1.5 percent bonus that each Grand Prix team horse is given in the team score does not count in that horse’s individual results. Therefore, the individual results do not have the bonus added in. However, what isn’t clear is whether the team totals have the bonus in there or whether they will be added only in the final tally after tomorrow’s competition.
It has been a day of exciting sport, with the only disappointment being the lack of spectators. The stadium, which has a capacity of 3,500, was never more than a quarter full all day; I’ve seen bigger crowds at the CDIs in Wellington. There were few American flags waving from the stands. Not surprisingly, Canadian flags were in much greater evidence throughout the day.
Competition starts at 9 am again tomorrow, with all competitors from today advancing. Sadly for the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz, the judges rang the bell and eliminated her in the final extended trot in the Grand Prix test after Foco Loco-W took a few uneven strides. It’s a long way to come to have such a misfortune, particularly toward the end of what was quite a strong performance.
The forecast tomorrow is for more sunshine and warm temperatures, but if today’s results are any indication, the weather is not getting in anyone’s way.
Link to today’s results: http://results.toronto2015.org/IRS/en/equestrian/results-dressage-individual-4-00.htm