U.S. Jumpers Take Pan Am Gold

Winning show jumpers Chris Kappler (silver), Mark Watring (gold) and Margie Engle (bronze), with Dr. Marcos Vecchini. | © Charles Mann

SANTO DOMINGO, DR, August 16, 2003 — In the final team competition, run in a Nations’ Cup format on Thursday, August 14, the United States posted three faultless efforts in the first round. Adding nothing to their opening total of 1.66 earned in Wednesday’s first qualifier, a speed round, the United States took a commanding lead.

In the second round of team competition, the U.S. counted an eight-fault round from Lauren Hough and Windy City, who lost a shoe early on course, and a four-fault effort from Beezie Madden and Conquest II. Still, the United States easily won the gold medal with a final total of 13.66 penalties compared to the 21.87 posted by Mexico.

“Everyone had a super day,” said Kappler of Pittstown, NJ, who led his Team to the gold medal with two faultless performances riding Royal Kaliber, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Ramiro. “We came here to qualify for the Olympics, and I’d like to thank my teammates for being so super.”

Mexico put the pressure on with a nine-fault effort in the first round and came back with a six-fault effort in the second round. Although it wasn’t enough to beat the Americans, it was enough to earn the Silver Medal and an Olympic berth.

While the Brazilians captured the bronze medal, they failed to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games. Under International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules, gold and silver medallists automatically earned Olympic berths, while the team with the lowest score without using a drop score, in this case Argentina, secured the third spot. All nine countries competing at the Pan American Games were looking for Olympic qualification.

“We have won team bronze medals at the last two Olympic Games and now we are out,” said Alvaro Neto Miranda, riding as the Brazilian team anchor in the absence of Rodrigo Pessoa. “It is very disappointing for us, but we knew the rules coming here.”

Mark Watring Wins Gold for Puerto Rico

Entering the individual final, all four United States Equestrian Team members – Hough, Madden, Goldstein-Engle and Kappler were in the top eight individually.

Unfortunately, Hough was unable to compete as she was concerned about causing damage to Windy City’s hoof after the pulled shoe in the team competition. Madden of Cazenovia, NY, sitting in bronze medal position coming into the individual final, was eliminated in the first round when her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, Conquest II, twice refused the final element of the triple combination.

Kappler and Goldstein-Engle both performed to an international standard, but it wasn’t enough to catch Puerto Rico’s Mark Watring. The California-based Watring posted a score of .83 in the opening Individual Qualifier on Wednesday. Following four additional jumping rounds, Watring accumulated only five faults – one rail for four faults and one time fault – to finish with a final total of 5.83 riding Sapphire, an 11-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding by Liostro.

“There was a bit of pressure because Chris was right on my tail,” commented Watring, a former international three-day eventing competitor who competed at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “I needed to be in the top four individually to qualify for the Olympics, so earning the gold medal in the process is just the icing on the cake.”

Kappler, who was in the silver medal position coming into the individual final, held onto his placing. In the opening round, Kappler incurred four faults when Royal Kaliber knocked down a standard at fence six after spooking at a television cameraman. He repeated the four-fault effort in round two when he knocked down the planks at fence two. A final total of 10.40 points was strong enough to secure the silver medal.

“My horse had a super week,” said Kappler, 36, making his first major games appearance for the United States Equestrian Team. “He’s been great all year for me and this week he truly shined.”

Margie Goldstein-Engle of Wellington, FL, was in fifth position heading into the final, but a clear in the first round and only four faults in the second round, also at the planks, moved the 2000 Olympian into bronze medal position.

“I thought my horse jumped excellent. He was clear in the first round and in the second round I think I angled it too much to the planks and had the knock-down,” said Goldstein-Engle of her performance riding Hidden Creek’s Perin, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding by Pageno.

Through their placings at the 2003 Pan American Games, Canada, Colombia and Puerto Rico all earned one individual berth for the Olympic Games in 2004 while Brazil secured two individual berths.

Forty-three riders representing 12 nations participated in the show jumping events at the 2003 Pan American Games, which were held at the newly constructed Palmarejo Equestrian Center in Santo Domingo. The next Pan American Games will be held in 2007 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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