The North American Report: United States in Bronze Position, Canada 13th After Thursday at Pratoni

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

At the conclusion of day one, the United States is happily in bronze medal position with scores coming forward from Will Coleman and Lauren Nicholson.

Will Coleman leads the team effort in the morning session with Aachen winner Off The Record (Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), owned by the Off the Record Syndicate. The Ground Jury of Christina Klingspor, Peter Gray, and Christian Steiner awarded the pair a 26.4 as the best-placed Americans as it stands.

“I thought my horse tried very hard today and I’m very happy with him,” Will commented. “I thought we just squeezed every point out of it that we could. When he came out this morning, that’s sort of what was my mentality was: to see if we can ride as clean a test as we can, and leave as few penalties on the table as we can. And I think we did that. And so in that respect, I’m happy and I don’t know if there are any highlights in it, but it was clean and relatively mistake free.”

Pathfinder place comes with a great deal of responsibility for a team that is eager to qualify for the 2024 Olympics, but Will’s up to the challenge. “It’s a tough job. I’ve been first before, I’ve been last before in some instances, so I think we all have the same sort of approach that we want to go out and execute and just give our horses the best chance of coming home clear. And with as few time penalties as possible,” he said.

A championship is all about putting team above self, and the Americans have certainly prioritized that here in Pratoni. This lot has been consistent in their aims of the first phase: a good score without taking any major risks that would jeopardize their team result. Lauren Nicholson spoke of this following her test Thursday, “I was happy put down a good score for the team. That was our job not to go in there and do anything amazing. Just try not to mess it up.”

She and Ms. Jaqueline Mars’ Anglo-Arabian Vermiculus (Sazeram – Wake Me Gently) sit seventh on 27.1, an improvement from their 4*/5* average which is 29.6.

“I think everyone kind of knows the Arab can throw in some moments, but it did not aggravate the Arab and he did quite well in front of the crowd and he does love a big moment. He’s always best at a bigger competition,” she said. “The judges want to like him — they always have even when he’s been naughty, but when he’s not naughty he just goes in and is very workmanlike.”

While Lauren won’t be the first U.S. rider out on course Saturday, she has been a wealth of knowledge for the team due to her attendance of the test event here on foot in May. You can read all about her thoughts on the venue at this link.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo lead the way for Canada. Photo by TIlly Berendt.

Canada is thirteenth in the team rankings after performances from the first two members. Hawley Bennett-Awad is the pathfinder for the Maple Leafs with her longtime partner Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell, by Danzig Connection). The British-bred mare owned by the Jollybo Syndicate earned a 34.8, which is just a hair above her 4*/5* average of 33.7.

“She was a good girl. You know, she’s not the flashiest horse around, but she tries her heart out,” Hawley said. “It’s unfortunate she cantered out of that first halt, but it didn’t affect her for the rest of the test. You know, she’s a little worker bee. We tried to climb our way back with the scores [after that] but it is what it is, and I don’t think it’s going to be dressage show, and if I can end somewhere near that score, by the end of the weekend, I’ll be thrilled.”

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Karl Slezak came next with his own and Kirk Hoppner’s Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x KEC Galway Bay, by Gildawn Diamond). Similarly to their compatriots, “Chocy” floated just north of his usual performance at this level on 37.8.

“I was pleased with him. He was very good. We’ve been working hard on all the flat work and especially the changes,” he said. “Unfortunately the changes weren’t perfect today but we got the last one which I was happy about.”

It will be a steep climb to a medal for Canada, but they’ve got a track record for such a massive effort. In 2010, the team clawed their way to team silver after starting in ninth place after dressage.

Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Canada’s Dana Cooke, who is competing as an individual, was the final North American to take the centerline. The stylish FE Mississippi carried her to a penalty mark of 34.3 for 28th individually. “I wish were a little more forward but in all honesty, she went in she put a good consistent test and she think everything was clean and accurate,” she said.

It was a last minute call-up that brought her to her championship debut as she was subbed in for Colleen Loach and Vermont, but Dana prepared year-long for such a chance, even relocating to Ireland this spring in her efforts.

The remainder of the North American contingent comes forward tomorrow:

  • Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan 9:38 a.m. local/3:38 a.m. eastern
  • Holly Jacks and Candy King 10:41 a.m. local/3:41 a.m. eastern
  • Tamie Smith and Mai Baum 12 p.m. local/ 5 a.m. eastern
  • Mike Winter and El Mundo 3:19 p.m. local/9:19 a.m. eastern
  • Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF 4:38 p.m. local/10:38 a.m. eastern

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