Canadian Dressage Team in Silver Medal Position at Pan American Games

Tom Dvorak

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Following the first day of competition at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Canadian dressage team is in second position, and close enough to threaten team USA for the gold medal.

Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, ON, and the 13-year-old Hannoverian gelding, Beaumarchais, were the first competitors for Canada in the equestrian events. Dvorak was the fourth competitor to enter the arena at the National Equestrian Centre at the Deodoro Military Club, located 26 km north of downtown Rio. Beaumarchais, owned by Susan Holden, was both energetic and obedient with an impressive trot tour. Dvorak scored 69.10% in the Prix St. Georges test, putting him in second position behind Lauren Sammis of the United States who scored 70.20% on Sagacious.

Dvorak said after the test that he was pleased with the preparations he had made in the ten days following the team’s arrival in Brazil, noting, "He’s always electric. I need to make sure he’s settled before I go down the center line, but I felt good about things when I entered the arena today."

At the Pan Am Games, team dressage medals are determined by the three team members’ scores in the Prix St. Georges test. In the past, dressage teams at all major international championships consisted of four members but, as of the 2008 Olympic Games, teams will only be comprised of three team members. These Pan Am Games reflect the new Olympic dressage format with three team members, all of whose scores count toward team placings.

Of the seven teams contesting the dressage events, only the Mexicans saw two team members compete on the first day of a two-day competition. That puts Mexico provisionally in first place after the first day of competition, but with two more riders to compete on Sunday, the Canadian team is poised to win a medal.

The second half of the team dressage will take place on Sunday, July 15. Canada’s two remaining dressage team members, Diane Creech of Caistor Centre, ON, riding Wiona and Andrea Bresee of Brockville, ON, riding Raffles, will enter the arena at 9:10 a.m. and 10:40 a.m. respectively. The team medal ceremony will follow the completion of the Prix St. Georges class. The top 25 horses will proceed to individual competition, which begins on Monday, July 16, with the Intermediaire I test.

Dvorak, 41, is assured a place in the individual competition and is looking forward to the Intermediaire I test explaining, “Generally, Beaumarchais is more comfortable with the flow of the Intermediaire I test than the Prix St. Georges.”

All three Canadian competitors are expected to make it to the individual competition. Individual medals will be awarded following the second phase of the individual competition, the Intermediaire Freestyle, on Wednesday, July 18.

Norbert van Laak of Germany is coaching the Canadian Dressage Team at the Pan American Games and Gwynne Rooke is acting as the chef d’equipe. The team members participated in the opening ceremonies on Friday July 13, along with more than 5,500 other athletes, in front of an estimated 95,000 spectators. The Pan American Games represent the most important equestrian championship for Canada besides the Olympics and World Equestrian Games. In addition to medals, the Canadian Dressage Team is competing for one of two team berths for the 2008 Olympic Games.

"Canada's Tom Dvorak is in second position following the first day of dressage competition at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."
Photo Credit - Cealy Tetley,

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