Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Canada claimed the Team Silver Medal in the equestrian sport of dressage on Sunday at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The United States earned Gold while the home country of Brazil claimed the Team Bronze.

After a tight race for the Gold Medal in the team competition, the United States pulled into the lead when its final team member competed on Sunday. Canada had been in second place after its first rider, Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, finished only one percentage point behind the U.S. Team’s first competitor, Lauren Sammis, in the first half of the team competition held on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, the second of Canada’s three dressage riders, Diane Creech, 44, of Caistor Centre, ON, performed a harmonious test on the 10-year-old Hanoverian mare, Wiona, owned by Doug and Louise Leatherdale, to ultimately stand fifth individually with a score of 67.40%.

The second American competitor, Katherine Poulin-Neff riding Brilliant Too, then finished almost a point lower than Creech, putting Canada within reach of the gold medal.

Riding last for Canada was Andrea Bresee of Brockville, ON, on Raffles, a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by Gina Smith and Faith Berghuis. The test started out strong in the trot tour but there were small mistakes in the canter work that cost Bresee valuable points. Having never represented her country in a major international championship before, Bresee, 32, had the added pressure of determining Canada’s final placing.

“No matter when I would have gone, I would have ridden the same way,” said the youngest member of the Canadian Dressage Team. “My horse was very good for me today.”

Bresee’s score of 65.25% from the panel of five international judges placed her ninth individually, and left the door open for final American competitor, Christopher Hickey. Hickey took some risks with his horse, Regent, to finish the competition with the second best score and clinch the Team Gold Medal for the United States.

Following the medal ceremonies, at which third placed Brazil received its first Pan Am dressage medal in 24 years, Canadian chef d’equipe Gwynne Rooke expressed her pleasure with Canada’s Silver Medal, saying, “We are very satisfied with the result. After many, many miles, we have achieved our ambition as a team.”

The journey to Rio de Janeiro has been a long one; the Canadian horses were required to spend ten days in quarantine in Miami, FL, before flying thousands of kilometers to compete at the XV Pan American Games.

While Team medals have been decided, individual competition begins on Monday with the Intermediaire I test followed on Wednesday, July 18, by the Intermediaire Freestyle test. Scores from Saturday and Sunday’s team competition do not count towards the individual championship. Instead, the combined results of the two individual competitions will determine the individual medals. With all three of Canada’s riders finishing the team competition in the top ten, there is potential for more medals for Canada on Wednesday. American Lauren Sammis has proven her mettle, having maintained the lead in the Prix St. Georges test with the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Sagacious. Tom Dvorak and Beaumarchais slipped into third behind American Christopher Hickey and Regent, but by a tiny margin – only 0.05 of a percentage point.

Dvorak said he is looking forward to the individual competition noting, “The Prix St. Georges has always been this horse’s weaker test so I am excited to ride the Intermediaire I.”

Dvorak also noted that team coach, Norbert van Laak of Germany, has been an important part of Canada’s success in Brazil. “Norbert has been a great help to the team,” he said.

A total of 26 horse and rider combinations from 12 countries are competing in dressage at the 2007 Pan American Games. Seven countries fielded teams, while individuals represent an additional five countries. The top 25 individuals will proceed to the first phase of individual competition on Monday, and the top 15 from that competition go on to perform the Intermediaire Freestyle on Wednesday to determine the Individual medals.

2007 Pan American Games – Prix St. Georges – Final Results

Rider Country Horse Score

1. Lauren Sammis United States Sagacious 70.20%

2. Christopher Hickey United States Regent 69.15%

3. Tom Dvorak Canada Beaumarchais 69.10%

4. Yvonne Losos de Muniz Dominican Republic Bernstein Las Marismas 68.20%

5. Diane Creech Canada Wiona 67.40%

6. Katherine Poulin-Neff United States Brilliant Too 66.55%

7. Jose Luis Padilla Mexico Lohengrin 65.55%

8. Renata Costa Brazil Monty 65.40%

9. Andrea Bresee Canada Raffles 65.25%

10. Annabelle Collins Bermuda Medici 65.00%