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U.S. Dressage Team Jumps to Lead After Day One of Team Competition at Santiago 2023

by US Equestrian Communications Dept. | Oct 22, 2023, 7:45 PM

Santiago, Chile – The U.S. Dressage Team currently holds first place on a team total of 224.338 after the first day of dressage concluded at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, with tomorrow’s competition set to determine team medals. Brazil is currently in second on a 221.151, with Canada in third on a 214.277. With both Small and Large tour combinations competing, scoring for Large Tour combinations adds three points to their final percentage as part of the championship format. Intermediate I and Grand Prix Special competition will begin at 10:00 a.m. ET tomorrow.

“The highlight for me today is that it’s a younger team, and for some of them it’s their first major international experience, and I’m just proud of how they handled the environment and all of them rode very well and stepped up to the moment,” said Chef d’Equipe George Williams. “There’s terrific team spirit amongst the athletes, the grooms, and staff so it’s a really positive environment and we’re looking forward to the next few days.”

©MattTurer/US Equestrian

Leading off the order in Small Tour competition, Simonson and Son of a Lady laid down a stunning test in-front of an atmospheric stadium, impressing the judges and fans alike. In his first senior championship, Simonson didn’t let his nerves get to him and just rode to have fun and gain experience and fulfill a lifelong dream of riding down the center line representing the United States.

“He was a little impressed by the crowd, but really let me take his hand for the rest of the test and it felt super special,” smiled Simonson. “I was so excited and I’m so happy to be here. It’s a dream come true for me and that’s what I really felt in there.”

Anna Marek (Dunnellon, Fla.) and Fire Fly were the first Grand Prix combination to take to the stadium, making their championship debut in Santiago, and rocketing to the top of the leaderboard with a 74.891%. The pair, who have been working through perfecting their test and allowing more relaxation in the movements, felt the energy of the atmosphere and Marek commented that Fire Fly, a 2010 Hanoverian gelding owned by Janet Smile, really rose to the occasion to produce a mistake-free test.

“I was trying to keep my head under control coming into this, just with the crowd and everything. What’s great is when I focus on the riding, I don’t see or hear anything, and my whole goal coming here was that I wanted to have a clean test in the Grand Prix. All the things we’ve been working on leading up to this all worked in there and that’s what made it so awesome,” said Marek. “Anytime I felt like I wanted to make a big correction, I disciplined myself not to and he relaxed, and he was just amazing in there.”

With her family proudly watched from the side, Codi Harrison (Wellington, Fla.) and her own Katholt’s Bossco, a 2007 Danish Warmblood gelding, also completed their first test at the championship level with her longtime partner “Bossco”. The pair scored a 73.305% from the panel in the Grand Prix test to help the team further secure their hold on the lead.

“It is such a great atmosphere in there and it was just so much fun. He definitely noticed the atmosphere, which is good for him, and it was a fun ride,” said Harrison. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid, and it’s something that seems like such a far concept to grasp, and to really be here and let it all sink in, there’s really not a feeling like it.”

As the anchor combination, and the only pair to have competed at a Pan American Games before, Tubman (Wellington, Fla.) and First Apple, a 2010 KWPN stallion owned by Summit Farm, received a 76.065% from the panel. The pair were rewarded for their strong canter tour, which impressed the judges. The pair will look to deliver for the team once again during the Grand Prix Special tomorrow to determine team medals.

"It's really special to have gone through this process. I felt more prepared because I knew what to expect for our last start at the Pan Ams in 2019 and I've also been really lucky in between then and now to go travel more and be on some other teams, but I have to tell you, everytime you go into that ring you still get the craziest butterflies no matter how many times you go down the centerline," said Tubman. "I think this is my personal best in the Grand Prix, and you know, I'm really proud of my horse and thankful for everyone who has helped make this happen." 

Simonson will kick-off the day in the Intermediate I at 10:16 a.m. ET, while the Large Tour combinations contesting the Grand Prix Special will start later in the afternoon with Marek at 1:17 p.m. ET, Harrison at 2:20 p.m. ET, and Tubman at 3:23 p.m. ET to determine team medals. The top three highest combinations from the Grand Prix Special and Intermediate I will move forward to contest freestyles for individual medals on Wednesday.

Schedule | Streaming | Results

Watch all of the equestrian competition live on ClipMyHorseTV October 22. For more information on the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games, visit www.santiago2023.org/en.

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