Hickey Delivers Gold, Sammis Takes Silver, in Debut International Competition at the Pan American Games Dressage Individual Finals
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—It was a double-medal day for Team USA at Deodoro Stadium as Maryland’s Christopher Hickey aboard Regent won the coveted Gold medal on a two-day averaged score of 70.725% after performing his freestyle before an appreciative crowd. New Jersey’s Lauren Sammis, who had led the scores at the end of the Team competition, finished in Silver-medal position (69.925%) after delivering an entertaining freestyle aboard Sagacious HF. The Bronze medal was won by the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz aboard Bernstein las Marismas with an average of 69.500%.
Fifteen combinations were invited to contest the Individual medals on Wednesday at Brazil’s National Equestrian Center located 45 minutes outside of downtown Rio de Janeiro. It was a cloud-covered event with cool temperatures. However, the action in the arena warmed the fans of dressage from across the Americas who came to cheer on their countries. Today’s final was decided by an average score taken from the Intermediaire I score posted on Monday and today’s Intermediaire I freestyle score.
The top three riders were a repeat of those that sat in the top three spots after the first Individual competition. Following today’s freestyle, Sammis was able to edge out her Dominican competition and raise a spot and perform alchemy to change what could have been a Bronze into Silver. She was aided by her freestyle score—71.300%—compared to her competition’s 69.700%.
But, it was Hickey, the 38-year-old rider who has competed in a multitude of disciplines as well as dressage, who outperformed his competition to bring home Gold. His mount, the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Regent, is owned by Brenna Kucinski,
All throughout, the rider rode his tests boldly and with confidence…and it paid off. In a very complicated freestyle set to pulsating techno beats followed by undulating ambient percussion, one mistake could have caused a horrible domino effect, and Hickey was careful to keep things in balance and on par with the performances he has put in over his Pan Am debut.
“When I make one little mistake, especially in the canter, which I did today, it can go down the drain very quickly because things come up so fast,” he said. A mistake in his tempis was a place where things could have gone very wrong. “I intended to re-ride the three-tempis. I came into the three-tempis between the pirouettes, and my brain was saying three-tempis and my legs did two-tempis. I did a few and then thought, ‘Oh my God, these are twos! They are supposed to be threes! It was too late to do anything about it. It’s a complicated freestyle that has well-calculated risks.”
Of all the freestyles performed today, Hickey’s music was truly a standout and a very good match for his mount.
“My music is very powerful and was done by a friend of mine, Anne Guptill of Equestrian Arts Production, and my partner, Richard, picked most of the music out,” said Hickey. “My horse is a strong, big-moving horse, and he can be very expressive when he picks himself up decides to show off. I think that music really works well for him…with a different kind of horse, it would not be as successful of freestyle, I think. When that horse hears that music, and that music helps me, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Hickey will leave South America to travel to Germany. He will meet up with his five-year-old horse that has been chosen to be in the Young Horse World Championship in Verden, Germany.
Sammis, aboard the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Sagacious HF (owned by Hyperion Farm) couldn’t have been happier with her medal bid.
“I have a young horse,” said Sammis. “For me, this is only the beginning of his career…he’s brilliant.”
She acknowledged that to get to a Pan Am medal-winning moment, it takes more than the efforts of just one person, plus a long journey for anyone willing to set out on it.
“It takes an enormous team to make