‘Go big or go home’ was the order of the day for the Canadians on the second day of competition at the 2019 Pan Am Games. Where several felt they had been a bit cautious in the first round, they pulled out all the stops this time, as the rewards would outweigh the risks. And they did – with the squad narrowly ousting the US team for the gold medal.
Following the same order of go as the previous day, Lindsay Kellock had another stunning test with Floratina, scoring 73.147, Although a little bobble in the two-tempis did cost them a few marks, the mare was forward and generous. “It was much better. I’m thrilled,” said Kellock. “The little mistake was my fault. I just lost the rhythm a little bit and I was counting how many twos I was doing, so that was on me a bit. But I’m thrilled with how she went. It’s by far the best feeling I’ve ever had in the ring with her.”
She added, “She was really flying in her trot extensions. That, again, was a weakness a while ago, and we’ve been working really hard on building our trot. I just felt even more than yesterday that the trot was way more elevated today, so that was definitely a highlight. Pirouettes I think we’re quite good. All of her extended work was good. I don’t have much to criticize!”
The pair seemed extremely focussed and relaxed, like they were riding at home with no crowd looking on. “She’s like that, she goes into a new atmosphere and she doesn’t change – or she changes in a good way. She gets a little more amped up. Today, she did what I told her to do in those changes. And that was on me. She’s always trying her hardest.” Extra treat would certainly be on the menu for Flora, including her favourites: apples and Nature Valley bars.
Flora’s owner, Chloe Gasiorowski of Toronto, who is herself a rider and competitor, commented, “I’ve trained with [Lindsay] for two years now; I’ve been riding since I was nine years old and I’ve improved more in those two years than I have my entire life.” She will take over the ride on Flora following these games so we unfortunately will not see the mare in Tokyo. “We’re going to keep [Flora] at the small tour level – she’s going to be for Chloe to come up the ranks with.”
Tina Irwin and the extravagant Laurencio also cranked it up a notch. “Looking back at yesterday, it was very safe and I thought I’ve got to bring it if we want to win. I needed more energy today, so I did that. I was really happy with the energy and the expression – no risk, no gain. I had a little bobble in my half-pass, which was a coefficient so unfortunately that’ll have cost me a little bit. But you know, I don’t regret it, because I think ‘go big or go home’ – you’ve gotta go for it, you’ve gotta push. So I’m happy that I did that today. My horse felt great. He’s like, okay, you want more? I’ll go more!” Their score of 73.853 was slightly higher than the previous day’s.
Tempered with all that explosive energy was an incredibly calm walk which is a testament to the gelding’s lovely temperament. Irwin said, “You can go full on and then you can walk; literally, I could put a child on him and he could probably take them for a hack. And then you pick up the reins and he’s like, ‘I’m ready.’ He’s really fun horse.”
Naima Moreira Laliberte was pleased with her Grand Prix Special test aboard Statesman that earned 71.787. “It was steady, it was clean, which was the goal today for the team. We achieved what was the plan so I’m really happy about that. And we won gold! It’s unreal. It’s amazing to be on a team that won gold.” She added that surprisingly, she wasn’t very stressed despite what was on the line. “Actually, today I felt no pressure. Once I realized this is a big venue, but really it is another sandbox that just happens to be here at these Games. I just rode like I usually do and that took the pressure away.”
Jill Irving and Degas 12 rounded out the field with 67.851 as the drop score, a bit lower than their previous Grand Prix score. “I was a little disappointed,” she admitted. “Degas was a really, really electric in there and it cost a few very expensive mistakes. He was a little nerved up in there, which was shocking. But not bad for 17 and a half. He wasn’t even puffing when he was done.” She is excited about the prospect of fielding a team for Tokyo. “We’ve got some decent depth in Canada and I think it’s going to be competitive.”
Today’s team gold medal marked Canada’s third time to take the title in the Pan Am Games’ 68-year history (Cali, Colombia 1971 and Havana, Cuba in 1991) – happily ending a 28-year drought. Seeing as the US had already qualified a team for the Olympics, the second berth on offer went to an ecstatic third-placed Brazil team.
For complete results, go to: https://www.lima2019.pe/en/results