U.S. Holds Team Lead After Pan Ams Cross Country; Ruy Fonseca in 1st

Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa. Photo by Jenni Autry. Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The U.S. team came into the 2015 Pan American Games here in Toronto with a mission to both win team gold and qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and they’re two-thirds of the way to accomplishing those goals after a foot perfect day of cross country for the red, white and blue.

The U.S. team of Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive, Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, and Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa all delivered double clear rounds over Wayne Copping’s track to hold the lead in the team standings on 133.0.

Marilyn and RF Scandalous lead the way for Team USA, sitting in silver medal position in the individual standings on 42.1, followed by Boyd and Pancho Villa in fourth on 44.3. Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive and Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett are tied for seventh place on 48.4.

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Canada started the day in silver medal position, just 0.7 penalties behind Team USA after dressage. Canadian fans waited on pins and needles after Waylon Roberts and Bill Owen, the trailblazers for Team Canada, were announced as finishing clear, then announced as having 20 jumping penalties, then finally announced as double clear.

Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges then delivered a second double clear round for the Canadian team in their championship debut. Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee, who sat in second place after dressage on 39.8, were set to pressure overnight leaders Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too until they fell at fence two — a gutting end to their trip over from the UK to represent their country.

The pressure was then on defending individual gold medalists Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti to deliver a double clear round to keep Canada in contention for a team medal. The Canadian fans cheered (screamed is a more accurate term) for them the entire way around the course, and it’s hard to describe the scene that unfolded as they galloped to the finish.

Jessica Phoenix hugs her son Jacob after her clear cross country trip. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jessica Phoenix hugs her son Jacob after her clear cross country trip. Photo by Jenni Autry.

A swarm of elated Canadian fans ran down the hill to the final fence and screamed as Jessica and Pavarotti cleared the jump and crossed the timers double clear. A Canadian fan explained to me after that it just meant so much to them to have Jessica recover from her injury at Jersey Fresh in May in time to compete on home soil in these Pan American Games.

Jessica and Pavarotti now sit in bronze medal position on 42.1, with Colleen and Qorry Blue d’Argouges in ninth on 51.8 and Waylon and Bill Owen in 17th on 65.1. Losing Kathryn’s dressage score dropped the team to third place in the team standings on 159.0; Canada no longer has a drop score heading into tomorrow.

It was a day to remember for the Brazilian team, which also delivered four double clear rounds to have all their horses and riders — Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too, Carlos Paro and Calcourt Landline, Jorge Marcio Carvalho and Lissy Mac Wayer, and Henrique Plombon and Land Quenotte — sitting inside the top 13.

Ruy Fonseca takes a peak at his watch as he clears the last fence with Tom Bombadill Too. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Ruy Fonseca sneaks a peek at his watch as he clears the last fence with Tom Bombadill Too. Photo by Jenni Autry.

That effort moved them up to silver medal position in the team standings on 136.7, just 3.7 penalty points behind Team USA. It’s going to be a nail-biter of a show jumping finale tomorrow with scores so tightly bunched at the top of the leaderboard, and individual leader Ruy Fonseca doesn’t have much breathing room either, with just 1.4 penalties separating him from Marilyn Little.

Looking to the rest of the team leaderboard, Ecuador had a stellar day and will be putting pressure on Canada tomorrow, as their team is now sitting in fourth place in the team standings, just 11.1 penalties behind. The three-man team of Ronald Zabala Goetschel and Master Boy, Carlos Narvaez and Que Loco, and Nicolas Wettstein and Onzieme Framoni all delivered double clear rounds and are sitting inside the top 16.

Eighteen riders delivered double clear rounds today. In addition to those already named, we saw stellar rides from Carlos Lobos and Ranco of Chile (5th), Daniela Moguel and Cecelia of Mexico (12th), Elena Ceballos and Nounour du Moulin of Venezuala (18th), and Francisco Calvelo and Noir de la Muralla of Uruguay (22nd). Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy jumped clear with just 0.8 time penalties for Puerto Rico to sit in 15th place.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Nine riders were eliminated on course through both refusals and falls. The only hold on course came at the very end of the day when Marcelo Javier Rawson and Larthago fell at the second water complex. The horse, a gray, had lacerations on his stomach, and officials transported him off the course in the horse ambulance as a precaution. Officials confirmed that both Marcelo and Larthago are OK.

The sheer scope of national pride on display today as family, friends, fans and supporters of these 42 riders cheered them on was an emotional sight to behold. Many of these riders are competing in their first event in North America, much less their first major championships, and all of the competitors I spoke to from countries we don’t normally see told me how much the experience meant to them.

Quotes from all the U.S. and Canadian team riders, overnight leader Ruy Fonseca, and many more of the riders are coming your way next. In the meantime, relive all the action from cross country day in EN’s live updates. Live scores are not currently updated online, but you can click here to see a crappy iPhone photo of individual scores and here to see a photo of team scores.

Be sure to head over to EN’s Instagram to see more photos from the day (keep scrolling down for the full gallery), and thanks to all of the amazing EN readers who came up to say hello and snap a photo with the most famous chinchilla in Toronto. It’s been a great day here at the #PanAmGames. Thank you to all the officials, volunteers, owners, coaches, riders and supporters who made it possible. Stay tuned for much more.

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