Pan Am Dominance

I’m thrilled with the results of the USET at the Pan Am Games this week in Mexico.? The U.S. dressage team claimed the team gold and all three individual medals.? The eventing team was equally spectacular, winning team gold plus individual silver and bronze, with all five riders finishing on their dressage score, which is unprecedented (a Canadian rider, Jessica Phoenix, won individual gold).? The U.S. was clearly the favorite in dressage and eventing, chased by Canada.? Things may not go quite so smoothly for the jumpers this week, but they certainly have inspiration from the dressage and eventing crews to lead them forward. The riders, dressage team leader Anne Gribbons, and the USET all deserve praise for their preparations that led to this dominant performance.? let’s hope that this bodes well for the Olympics next year in London.? However, the Pan Am horses won?t likely be candidates for that team, since the Pan Ams are contested at Prix. St. Georges/Int. 1, which the Olympics, of course, are at Grand Prix.? Only two of the U.S. Pan Am horses are solid yet at GP, Paragon and Grandioso. Gribbons has said that the U.S. will need two GP horses at the Olympics that are solid at 75% or above and a third at 70% or above to vie for a team medal.? We hope Steffen Peters and Ravel will be leading the charge for us, and I can see several other possibles, but a lot can happen over the winter and into the spring during an Olympics year. I’m not fond of the format for London, which was the same team format used in Hong Kong in 2008.? Instead of four riders with one drop score, there will be three riders with all scores to count.? Presumably, this system accomplishes a couple things ? reducing the number of horses for the venue, which is one of the most expensive for the organizing committee, and giving a bit of an edge to countries that don’t have as much depth, which thus may mean countries other than the usual suspects will have a shot at team medals.? But, horses being horses, this means any small oopsy or lameness issue for one horse will mean the entire team loses out.? I’d really like to see a return to the four-horse teams, as would most equestrians, I think.

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