Hickey Wins 2007 Pan Am Dressage Gold

Americans Christopher Hickey and Lauren Sammis won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the 2007 Pan American Games dressage individual finals.
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Americans Christopher Hickey and Lauren Sammis won the gold and silver medals, respectively, in the 2007 Pan American Games dressage individual finals.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 18, 2007 -- It was a double-medal day for Team USA at Deodoro Stadium as Maryland's Christopher Hickey aboard Regent won the individual dressage gold medal on a two-day averaged score of 70.725 percent after performing his freestyle.

New Jersey's Lauren Sammis, who had led the scores at the end of the team competition, finished in silver-medal position (69.925 percent) after her freestyle aboard Sagacious HF. The Dominican Republic's Yvonne Losos de Muniz won the bronze medal aboard Bernstein las Marismas with an average of 69.500 percent.

Fifteen combinations competed for the individual medals today at Brazil's National Equestrian Center. The final placings were determined by an average score taken from the Intermediaire I score posted on July 16 and today's Intermediare I freestyle score.

Sammis edged out Losos de Muniz for the silver medal with her freestyle score of 71.300 percent compared to Losos de Muniz's 69.700 percent.

But it was Hickey, the 38-year-old rider who has competed in a multitude of disciplines as well as dressage, who brought home the gold. His mount, the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Regent, is owned by Brenna Kucinski. In a complicated freestyle set to pulsating techno beats followed by undulating ambient percussion, Hickey was careful to keep things in balance.

"When I make one little mistake, especially in the canter, which I did today, it can go down the drain very quickly because things come up so fast," he said. A mistake in his tempis was a place where things could have gone very wrong. "I intended to re-ride the three-tempis. I came into the three-tempis between the pirouettes, and my brain was saying three-tempis and my legs did two-tempis. I did a few and then thought, 'Oh my God, these are twos! They are supposed to be threes!' It was too late to do anything about it. It's a complicated freestyle that has well-calculated risks."

Hickey will leave South America to travel to Verden, Germany, to compete in the Young Horse World Championship.

Sammis, aboard the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Sagacious HF (owned by Hyperion Farm), couldn't have been happier with her medal bid.

"I have a young horse," said Sammis. "For me, this is only the beginning of his career...he's brilliant."

Turning her attention to her performance's strong points, Sammis said, "It was probably my pirouettes, but also I think that a strong point was that this horse was able to go into this environment and really try his best. Movement aside, his temperament is unbeatable. But I have to say that the pirouettes didn't hurt!"

Bronze medalist Losos de Muniz said, "I think the competition was a very exciting competition right to the end. We started out and kept each other on our toes, which was fun. It wasn't clear-cut from the beginning. I think we were all, right to the end, waiting to see [what happened], and I think that is the most fun in a competition."

The third American competing today was Ohio's Katherine Poulin-Neff aboard her mother's gelding, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross Brilliant Too. She finished in sixth place with a combined 67.675 percent.

Equestrian competition continues July 20 with the dressage phase of the eventing competition at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.