Marco Bernal Makes Experience Count and Grabs Kur Gold at 2014 Central American Games

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 09:42
2014 Central American and Caribbean Games

In a case of wisdom rising to triumph in the end, the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz (MEX) on 15 - 18 November 2014 saw three more experienced riders take the medal positions in the Intermediate I kur to music showdown. After the gold and silver medal pairs made a rather slow start in the team Prix St Georges and Inter I tests, experience counted in the end. Marco Bernal took out individual kur gold for Colombia, Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz got the silver, and Mexico’s Bernadette Pujals claimed the bronze.

Rather unusually and contradictory with FEI championship standards, a double set of individual medals were handed out at these Games. While the PSG and Inter I scores were combined to determine the team placings, the Kur was good for the individual medals. However, the organisation also had a set of three medals reserved for the overall top three with Pujals getting gold, Bernal silver and Losos de Muniz bronze.

Marco Bernal Senior Goes for Kur Gold

Rising to take the gold medal spot for the second time in a row at the Central American and Caribbean Games, Columbia’s Marco Bernal and his 13-year old Westfalian gelding Farewell IV scored a 68.800% to win the musical test, after placing 6th in the Prix St Georges and 9th in the Intermediaire I.

“The atmosphere at the Games was great from the beginning. For me to have the opportunity to compete with my son in the same team was already a huge blessing,” said Marco. He added that the feeling on his horse Farewell IV was amazing.

Because of their long-standing partnership, Bernal's hope for an individual gold did not fade after two top 10 placings in the first two rounds at the Games.  “I have trained him since he was a 3-year old and I knew he wanted this just as badly as I did, the chance to defend our gold medal title. It was the only thing in our mind and in our hearts," Bernal stated.

The most special moment of the Games, for Marco, was being able to have his wife Charlotte and son Marco Jr. with him, helping to make his dream come true. Bernal worked with Colombian team trainer Ulla Salzberger to fine-tune his winning ride. He acknowledged that experience played a major roll in the deciding round. He is looking forward to putting that experience to good use at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada.

Silver for Come Back Queen Yvonne Losos de Muniz

Vowing never to compete again after losing her CAS trial against the FEI for missing out on an 2012 Olympic spot, Dominican Republic's Yvonne Losos de Muniz changed her mind in 2014 when she bought the 9-year old Belgian warmblood Foco Loco W (by Sierappel) in Belgium and discovered his unmined talent for high performance dressage.

After making a show come back in August 2014, Losos de Muniz took 8th and 9th place in the Prix St Georges and Inter I in Veracruz. The come-back queen rose in the kur to claim individual silver with 69.700%.

“The atmosphere at the Games was very special. The venue was outstanding, it was a beautiful ring, and Mexico did an outstanding job organising the event. The last day was full of spectators," said Yvonne.

While she got off to a slow start, Yvonne says her tests actually went very well and she would not change a thing about her games' campaign. “I rode a careful test for the Prix St Georges since I was aiming for the individual podiums, and after that I pushed a bit more every day," she explained. "The kur was unbelievable. I have a real fighter in Foco Loco, he never ever gives up and always works with me in the ring.”

While she was a little worried she was too far behind to catch up, Yvonne was very happy that she managed to climb up the last day, and Foco Loco is, according to Yvonne, probably the best horse she has ever ridden.  “He is very powerful, yet extremely sensitive and smart. He is a real talent, and we are already schooling all of the Grand Prix movements with ease.”

Riding Foco Loco in his debut championship and coached by Lisa Tota, Yvonne says he is really green and that she was also a bit rusty after being so long out of the ring. “To see it all coming together at the end was unbelievable. I do think that experience played a big part, it's not easy to deal with the pressure, and quite a few riders got left behind the last day. If you look at the top 3 individuals, we have all been doing this for a while, which helps.”

Title Favourite Pujals Gets Kur Bronze

Winner of both the Prix St Georges and Inter I tests, Mexico’s Bernadette Pujals and the 9-year old mare Aurora el Camino (by Prestige x Flemming) led their team to victory and finished a stellar Games campaign with a 69.675% kur, to take the individual bronze medal and overall gold.

“The games were fantastic. They have truly amazing facilities and it is a wonderful venue,” Bernadette told Eurodressage. "The organisation directed by Maribel Alonso was first class, the competitors were all very nice, and we had a great time together.”

Lucky to have wonderful judges at these continental championships, Bernadette believes that in general the tests went very well, adding that it is always very special to win an individual medal.

“It is a great satisfaction," she explained. "I am on the right track and I am particularly happy with Aurora El Camino. She has a wonderfully strong personality and a great heart!”

Proud to be part of the Games held in her home country, Bernadette was also honoured to be riding the mare that she has been with since the horse was 4. She confirmed that experience, coupled with two solid tests at the beginning, are what gave her an edge in the end.

“I didn't really think of being a medal contender, as there were many fantastic horses in the competition," she added.

Set now to keep training everyday in order to be ready for the Pan American Games in Canada, Bernadette also has two other horses in Germany with Dorothee Schneider. She travels to Germany for one week each month.

“When I get back to Mexico I try to practice and apply all the things that I have learned with Dorothee in Germany," said Dorothee.

by Sarah Warne

Related Links
Scores: 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games
Mexico Wins Team Gold at 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games
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All Horses Pass Inspection at 2014 Central American Games in Veracruz