Hillsburgh rider is fourth in Pan Am individual dressage final

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Canadian Dressage Team members Tom Dvorak of Hillsburgh, Tina Irwin of Stouffville, and Crystal Kroetch of Calgary, placed fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the individual dressage final held Oct. 19, at the XVI Pan American Games.

With American competitors sweeping all three individual medals, Dvorak, Irwin and Kroetch were the closest to challenging the podium from a starting field of 47 competitors representing 14 nations.

Dvorak, 46, was the second last rider in the arena. He rode Viva’s Salieri, a 10-year-old Canadian-bred Hannoverian stallion, to a dynamic Spanish guitar-themed program that included four canter pirouettes and tempi changes on curved lines for added difficulty.

An impressive score of 77.3% placed him fourth in the freestyle.

Combined with his fourth place result of 73.079% in the Intermediaire I, Dvorak finished fourth overall with an average score of 75.19%.  Even more impressive,

Viva’s Salieri is a Canadian-bred horse, having been bred by owners Augustin and Christine Walch of W. Charlot Farms in Stratford.

“I fought as hard as I could and I didn’t leave anything behind,” said Dvorak when the results were announced (with American Marisa Festerling riding Big Tyme edging Dvorak for the bronze medal).

For Dvorak, the results in Guadalajara were reminiscent of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he also placed fourth individually, having also claimed a team silver medal.

“I’m still pleased to be fourth for a second time,” he said.

“We gave it our best, and it was a personal best score for us in the freestyle.”

The Canadian riders had high praise for the support they received from Team Chef d’Equipe Gina Smith of Brockville, and team technical leader Markus Gribbe of Germany.

“It’s great to be a part of our team’s wonderful results and to be able to help,” said Smith, who was a member of Canada’s bronze medal team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Following the Prix St. Georges test held Oct. 16, Canada won the team silver medal and, in doing so, achieved its goal of qualifying a team for the 2012 London Olympics.

For more information on the 2011 Pan American Games visit www.guadalajara2011.org.mx.