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Equestrian Canada – July 28, 2019, Lima, PER – The Canadian Dressage Team is holding second place, off the lead by the slimmest of margins, following the first day of team competition on July 28 at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.

Dressage competition began with the Prix St. Georges for the small tour, and Grand Prix for the big tour athletes, with results counting toward both the team competition and the first individual qualifier. The United States and Canada are neck-and-neck, with team scores just a fraction of a point apart at 219.970 and 219.828, respectively, setting up for a thrilling finale during the Team Final on July 29. Brazil is currently holding third place with 204.473. With even more than medals on the line, the top two teams not already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will earn their berth.

Competing in the Prix St. Georges, Tina Irwin, 38, of Stouffville, ON posted Canada’s highest score for the team (73.735%), and is holding second place individually with Laurencio (Laurentio x Donnerhall), a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding she co-owns with her husband and fellow elite dressage athlete, Jaimey Irwin.

Irwin is competing at the Pan Am Games for the second time, having helped Canada take the team silver medal in Guadalajara, MEX in 2011. Small tour stars, Irwin and Laurencio posted a world record score in 2017, before moving up to the big tour. However, in light of their incredible strength in the level, Irwin made the decision to return to the small tour in 2019 with the specific goal of helping Canada earn their berth to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a podium performance in Lima.

Their small tour strength was certainly on display in the Prix St. Georges, with the duo achieving movement scores up to nine for their halt and eight for the extended trot, collected walk and half-pass from the Dressage Ground Jury, which includes FEI 4* Dressage Judge, Brenda Minor of Acton, ON.

“I thought my horse felt really solid today; he gave me a very good feeling right from the get-go in the warm-up,” said Irwin, who acquired Laurencio as a four-year-old and has brought him up through levels. “We came into the stadium, and he perked up a little bit, but in a good way. I rode the extensions a little more conservatively, being the first day of the team event, so I definitely have more room to push there. But the rest I was very happy with; He really listened to me, was on my aides, and I thought the outline was really good.”

 

Tina Irwin and Laurencio
Photo Credit: © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Looking ahead to the remainder of the Pan Am dressage competition, and beyond, Irwin continued, “My goal here is to win a gold medal. I think (the key to winning a medal) is just to keep doing what I’ve been doing. We have a really proven track record and we’ve had a lot of success. So, the key is to stay focused, keep with my routine and not change anything, and just do what I’m doing. My long-term goal is to go to Tokyo next year – that’s my plan.”

Joining Irwin in the small tour was Lindsay Kellock, 29, of Toronto, ON. Partnered with Floratina (Fidertanz 2 x Rubin Royal OLD), Chloe Gasiorowski’s 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, Kellock made her major games debut, posting a personal best score of 73.176% to the leaderboard in the Prix St. Georges to hold third place individually. Impressively, despite the partnership being less than a year old, Kellock and Floratina earned marks of up to nine for individual movements, including their flying changes.

“I’m so happy, she was amazing and tried her heart out, as always,” said Kellock, who was able to continue her high scoring streak, having earned above 70% in every FEI class she’s entered with Floratina since taking on the ride in early 2019. “We’ve been working a lot on getting her trot a little bit fancier. I felt her extensions were much better. She had more lift, more suspension in the trot work. Of course, her changes are a highlight. Simple things like the walk pirouettes we’ve been working really hard on, and I thought those were much stronger today. Overall, I would say it was one of my best rides for sure.”

 
 

Lindsay Kellock and Floratina
Photo Credit: © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Speaking to her history with Floratina, Kellock said, “I’m so thankful to Chloe Gasiorowski, her owner, for sharing her with me. She’s been so generous through this whole journey and I’m grateful. Chloe bought her in December for herself as a schoolmaster. She has four young children, so she’s not able to (ride in Florida) as much as she would like. So, she offered, ‘Do you want to compete the horse a little bit?’ We went in our first show, and she got a really high score. And then we both were like, ‘Well, maybe we should declare her for the Pan Ams,’ and I think (my coach) Ashley Holzer was the one that pushed me to do it. It really wasn’t meant to happen this way, but Chloe was so generous to share her with me and we ended up getting the scores, so now we’re here.”

Kicking off the Grand Prix, and her first major games experience, was Naima Moreira Laliberté of Outremont, QC, who is Canada’s youngest competitor at 22. Riding Statesman, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding sired by Sandro Hit and owned by KML S.à.r.l., she laid down a strong debut, scoring 71.413% for a provisional standing of sixth on the individual leaderboard. Like Kellock, Moreira Laliberté also achieved a new personal best record in the Grand Prix.

“I’m really happy with how he performed, a lot of good things happened in there,” said Moreira Laliberté of Statesman, who she began competing with at the Under 25 level in 2018 before moving up to the big tour in 2019. “The extended canter is always my favourite part – it’s like ‘Charge!’ He’s amazing to ride. I think he’s one of a kind for sure. I’ve been riding him for two years. This is my first year of grand prix, my sixth competition (at the grand prix level), and my first major games.”

She added, “I think Canada is really strong and we came in with a good team. Our goal is to win a medal and we’re hoping for gold. My personal goal is to obtain personal best scores here at this competition.”

 
 

Naima Moreira Laliberté and Statesman
Photo Credit: © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

Closing out the day for Canada was Jill Irving, 56, of Moncton, NB, riding her partner from the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, Degas 12 (De Niro 6 x Regazzoni), a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Irving and Windhaven Farm. In their multi-sport Games debut, the pair earned a final score of 68.391% for a current standing of 12th individually.

“I’m excited, Team Canada has done really well,” said Irving, who formerly competed in hunter before turning her focus solely to dressage and reaching the FEI level in 2013. “I wouldn’t be here without my coach, Ashley Holzer and without her 33 years of advice – longer than a marriage. Before I went today, she told me, ‘Have fun. You’re at the Pan American Games and you’re an unbelievable partnership. Go enjoy it.’ Those were words of wisdom.”

Irving continued, “We have a great team and I’m just really thrilled to be on another team for Canada. We’ve got a great group and so far, so good. It’s amazing to be here with so many different countries. I love South America and I love Peru. We went to the Opening Ceremony and that was exciting because it made us feel like were truly part of a Games. I love the other countries and I think it’s just fantastic for the sport too, to present it in South America. It’s exciting and I’m thrilled to be here.”

 
 

Jill Irving and Degas 12
Photo Credit: © Cealy Tetley – www.tetleyphoto.com

The Canadian Dressage Team will aim to repeat their success on July 29, when the team medals will be decided following the Grand Prix Special and Intermediate I. From there, the top 50% in the rankings from both the big and small tour will move forward into the Grand Prix Freestyle and Intermediate I Freestyle to compete for individual medals.

For more information on equestrian events at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games, including the full schedule of equestrian competition, entries and results, please visit www.lima2019.pe/en. To follow the CET’s #RideToLima through results coverage, behind-the-scenes content and breaking news, visit www.equestrian.ca/events-results/games/ridetolima and be sure to check out EC’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for unique content, including a daily photo album.

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