-- by Carmen Franco for Eurodressage
The dressage competition at the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games at the Centro Ecuestre Palmarejo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, came to an end on Friday morning 30 June 2023 with the Freestyle classes. The Individual and overall medals were at stake and the pressure amongst the riders was palpable: many of them were very close to each other in the accumulated scores of the first two classes and there was a bit of uncertainty how good the dancing to music with their horses was going to be.
Hotly Contested Freestyle
The final was originally scheduled to start at 4:00 pm but it was changed to 8:00 am in a Technical Meeting between Chefs d’Equipe, the Organizing Committee and Carlos Lopes (POR), the FEI Technical Delegate appointed for these Games, due to the intense heat.
The best 18 combinations from the standings of the first two days of Small and Big Tour classes were presented in a second veterinary inspection on Thursday. Since only three per country are allowed to go to the finals, the door was opened to most of the 26 riders that flew to the island.
A few horses were not presented or did not pass the inspection, giving room to the lower ranked riders of their teams. This was the case for Marcos Santiago Ortiz Diez’s 10-year old KWPB stallion Dagasus (by Painted Black x Esteban) that looked uneven in the PSG and the Intermediate I. He was not presented, giving the spot to Jose Luis Padilla Liekens andhis 9-year old Friesian Twan Van Plexat (by Sake 449 x Beart 411).
Colombia’s Raul Corchuelo could not take advantage of his wonderful freestyle with Stella Lopez’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Maverick (by Millennium x Rittersport), who got him a second place at the Global 3 CDI 1* in January. Maverick had to conclude his participation with a heartbreaking hoof soreness, not passing the inspection. The rookie Mariana Atehortua got the chance of her short international competitive life to ride Juan David Londoño’s 14-year old Justify AS (by Jazz x Inselfuerst).
Yvonne Losos de Muniz Wins Double Gold
The Small Tour Freestyle saw four combinations pass the 70% mark and many of them obtained a Personal Best score. Yvonne Losos de Muñiz reclaimed the same golden spot as the previous 2018 edition, this time with a PB score of 75.519% on the 10-year old KWPN bred Idwinaretto (by Everdale x Johnson). With this powerful mare, Yvonne came on top of each one of the classes, earning not only the Individual but also the overall gold medal.
A very proud Dominican posted on social media: “At a loss of words for the absolute class, quality and power my amazing mare Idwinaretto demonstrates every single day.”
Silver and Bronze
Juliana Gutierrez Aguilera pushed hard to get the best out of Flanissimo, a 13-year-old Rheinlander gelding (by Flanagan x Ferragamo, and she was compensated with PB in all three classes she rode. Finishing the games as Individual and overall Silver medalist is the icing of the cake of a well thought plan that included training and competing in Florida for the 2023 season.
Both Colombia’s national coach Albrecht Heidemann and Chef d’Equipe Maria Ines Garcia, who is Juliana’s regular trainer, were beyond proud and you could see their emotions during the awards ceremony while Juliana couldn’t stop crying.
Same happiness produced the Bronze medal to Roberta Foster who performed a very harmonious freestyle with her 16-year old mare Chichic (by Florencio) giving her a PB score of 71.382%, making it the first-ever individual equestrian medal for Barbados.
Mexican Carlos Maldonado saw dreams come true, becoming the overall Bronze medalist of the CAC Games on the 13-year old KWPN bred Frans (by Voice x Lancet).
CACG 2026 Back in Santo Domingo
The Games will take place again in 2026 at the Centro Ecuestre Palmarejo. For sure was a good effort for Dominican Republic to be the host for equestrian sports for San Salvador 2023, 20 years after hosting the Pan American games, and hopefully, it will improve the next edition.