USA Takes Team Gold at 2023 Pan American Games - Brazil and Canada Win Tickets to Paris

Tue, 10/24/2023 - 12:00
2023 Pan American Games
The team medal podium at the 2023 Pan American Games: Gold for USA, Silver for Brazil, Bronze for Canada :: Photo © FEI

-- FEI press release by Louise Parkes, edited by Eurodressage

On a day that bubbled with excitement, Team USA stood firm to take team gold at the 2023 Pan American Games in Quillota, Chile on 23 October 2023. Team Brazil made history when slotting into silver medal position and the defending champions from Canada took bronze.

This was the ninth Pan Am dressage team title for the USA as the side of Christian Simonson (Son of a Lady), Anna Marek (Fire Fly), Codi Harrison (Katholt’s Bossco) and Sarah Tubman (First Apple) finished on a tally of 450.670. Brazil completed on 443.343 and Canada posted a score of 431.937. 

As the US is already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the 2022 World Championships in Herning, it was the Brazilians and Canadians who claimed the two qualifying spots on offer. The hosts from Chile finished fourth on 423.672.

The Score Format

The Team championship competition at the 2023 Pan American Games takes place over two rounds: the Prix St Georges/Grand Prix and the Intermediaire I / Grand Prix Special. Scores from both rounds are totalled to determine the winner. 

As the Pan American Games allow for mixed teams of small and big tour combinations, a coefficient has been added to the Grand Prix scores.  Grand Prix scores may appear unusually high at these Games, but that is because each Grand Prix score gets a 3% coefficient added on top of the actual result achieved. 

Biggest score

Day high score was ridden by Mendoza on Goldstrike
Today’s tests were Intermediaire l for Small Tour and Grand Prix Special for Big Tour combinations, and the biggest score was posted by Ecuadorian individual Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike (by Bretton Woods x Scandic) who topped the Special with 78.617. Yesterday’s Grand Prix winning partnership of João Victor Marcari Oliva and Feel Good VO (by Franziskus x Dimension) from Brazil slotted into a very close second when putting 78.612% on the board and defending individual champion Sarah Tubman from the USA finished third with First Apple (by Vivaldi x Partout) on 76.872. 

Four years ago the American pair were competing at Small Tour level, and this time around they showed just how much they have developed their partnership when stepping up to the Big Tour challenge so successfully. 

The Americans came out today with all guns blazing and 21-year-old Christian Simonson on Son of a Lady (by Soreldo x Welt Hit II) got them off to the perfect start when taking a strong lead in the Intermediate l when posting 74.971 which would leave him best in the Small Tour competition and individually fourth at the end of the day. That was backed up by 74.489 from Marek and Fire Fly (by Briar Junior x OO Seven) , and 71.957 from Harrison riding Katholt’s Bossco (by Don Schufro x Michellino) before Tubman put the icing on the cake with her 76.872.

Amazing week

Gold for Team USA
“It’s been such an amazing week!”, said Florida-based Tubman. "We are the youngest team the US has sent out in quite a while and I’m really proud to say we all delivered personal bests across the board along with amazing camaraderie! It’s one thing to stand up there and have the national anthem played because of your performances, and it’s completely different to do it next to three friends!”

Success today was particularly emotional for the 35-year-old as she remembered her former sponsor, Gerry Ibanez, who passed away not long after she won the individual medal at the last Pan Americans in Lima, Peru four years ago. 

Harrison who hails from Kansas but now also lives in Florida, USA said “you dream of making it into a championship like this and for it to come real is the best feeling!” 

Simonson’s Danish-bred gelding Son of a Lady was formerly competed by Spanish Olympian and prolific producer of young Dressage horses Severo Jurado Lopez, and by Danish Olympian and World Championship team gold medallist Carina Cassøe Krüth. “I’m really fortunate to ride him”, said the young American, “he’s one of the only horses I’ve met that…even if he doesn’t win, that fighting feeling he gives you is probably the best thing!” 


The Brazilians had a lot to celebrate today. Not only have they been hugely impressive so far, with the relatively inexperienced Paulo Cesar Dos Santos (Fidel Da Sasa JE) and Renderson Silva De Oliveira (Fogoso Campline) showing extraordinary potential in their first year at Grand Prix level, but this foursome have also earned Brazil’s first-ever Pan American Dressage team silver medal along with that coveted Olympic slot. There was an enormous sense of achievement for them, and a sense that this is only the first step on a new journey ahead.

A Historic day for Brazil, first ever team silver
“This is the most special day of my life, a really important moment in my career!”, said Dos Santos. “It’s been a really hard year for me but I was confident that I would be here with a very strong team and we would be able to get our objective - the silver medal and also the qualification for the Olympic Games. I want to thank this amazing team - we are all warriors here together - and all the people back in Brazil, my family and my friends who are cheering for me. They push us to be here in this great moment and I want to share this moment with them as well!”

João Victor Marcari Oliva said of his fellow team-members, “they are not just partners in competition they are friends in life!” His horse, Feel Good, is special to him because he’s had him since he was 18 months old and they have grown up together. “He’s been with me a very long time and today he gave me everything we trained for over this last nine and a half years together. I’m so happy with him and he deserves a sacks of carrots now!”, said the 27-year-old rider.

Manuel Rodrigues Tavares de Almeida Neto, who got married just a few weeks ago, said the last time he competed was at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and that, coming back to the sport after six years, this has been a dream year.

“I got this mare in April, the first German horse I was riding”, said the 30-year-old athlete who is more attuned to the Lusitano horses so closely associated with his successful equestrian family. “It was quite a challenge and I couldn’t be happier with the result." Mauel took over the ride on the 14-year old Hanoverian mare Rosa Belle (by Dancier x Rubin Royal) from his sister Luiza who kept it in Spain with Jose Antonio Garcia Mena. 

"We made history here today and I really hope João and Renderson can make more history the day after tomorrow," Manuel added.  “For Brazil this result puts us in a spot we’ve never been before, and in the next years I think there is much more to come so we can start dreaming and planning to make history at the Olympics as well - not this one (Paris 2024) but the next one!”, he added.

Clearing Hurdles

Bronze for Team Canada
Brazil already won an Olympic team ticket at the 2019 Pan American Games, but then failed to field three riders that earned the Minimum Eligibility Requirement before Tokyo. Team anchor Joao Oliva ended up going solo to the 2021 Olympics.

Brazil has now earned another team ticket for the Paris Olympics but not all hurdles are cleared yet. If it was up to them the big mistake of 2019 would not be made this year although yet again little time is left on the calendar. Brazil is pulling out all the stops to have a full team of three riders with the required Certificate of Capability (MER) by the end of 2023 to be eligible to go to Paris as a team.

Canada Ends up with Bronze

The Canadian team, who were gold medallists at the 2019 Pan Ams in Lima, ended up with bronze in Chile. For them it was mission accomplished as securing that Olympic team ticket was the principal goal. 

Three of Team Canada’s dressage athletes have never stepped into the ring of a major games, the fourth, only 26 years old, is the team’s ‘veteran’ rider. For this young group, they tried to stay focused on the task at hand while remembering the little girl that had once only dreamed of competing for Canada. The countless hours of training, the competitions, the sacrifices, the coaches who have pushed them along the way, and everything that it took to get to Chile, came together. After solid tests, Canada ended the team competition in third place.

Camille Carier Bergeron on Sound of Silence
While in the first round of the team competition Tokyo Olympian Naima Moreira Laliberte and her Hanoverian bred Statesman (by Sandro Hit x Brentano II) produced the high score for Team Canada in the Grand Prix  with 72.739%, in the second round it was Camille Carier Bergeron  on the 15-year old Westfalian Sound Of Silence (by San Amour I x Limes) who pulled Canada's score up the most with a 74.511% in the Grand Prix Special which ranked her sixth individually. Camille purchased Sound of Silence as a 7-year old at the 2015 Klosterhof Medingen auction in Germany and began riding him in 2017. She went from Young Riders through Under 25 with him and then into the senior division. They train with Canadian Olympian Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu.

“It feels amazing. I mean, we have such a great team," Carier said about her Pan Am experience. "The spirit is really nice. Everybody's so supportive of each other. It's a dream come true. We've worked so hard to be here. I wish all my team the best and I'm very excited to be a part of this event with them.”

The top-23 combinations after two rounds have qualified for Wednesday’s individual Freestyle medal-decider, so don’t miss a hoofbeat….

-- text by Louise Parkes for FEI, edited by Eurodressage
Photos © FEI / MacMillan - Cealy Tetley 

Related Links
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2023 Pan American Games
Scores: 2023 Pan American Games
Team USA Heads Team leaderboard in 2023 Pan Am Team Competition; Brazil’s Oliva Wins Opening Class