February 22, 2020

Cayman Team best in the Caribbean

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Image 7Last month a team of four dressage riders from Cayman took first place in the region’s premier dressage competition.

Every year, the horse world’s governing body, the ‘FEI’, organize the World Dressage Challenge for countries in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean region, dressage is considered to be a developing sport. In this year’s Challenge, Cayman beat teams from Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and to the top spot.

The Team was picked in advance with the help of elite dressage coach, Cindy Thaxton, who has been travelling to Cayman for several years to coach Cayman riders. Thaxton’s ‘Dream Team’ consisted of the Serpell sisters, Polly and Phoebe, riding Sundays’s Edition and Calidad, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Loris 7 and Tracey Surrey riding SonRise David.

Image 6_2The Team has to be picked in advance so Thaxton has to assess which riders will gain the highest four scores out of all the Cayman riders entering the Challenge. It’s not an easy decision. This year Thaxton was spot on.

Phoebe Serpell rode the Children’s Preliminary Test and finished top of her division with 70.862%. Surrey also topped her division, the Adult Preliminary Test, with 69.665%. McTaggart-Giuzio was a close second in the same class with 69.136 %. Polly Serpell also rode the Adult Preliminary Test and scored 66.466%.

From the four Team members, the top three scores are totaled to give a final score and that score is measured against the same calculation from the other competing countries. Cayman’s Team score was 209.655,  3.330 points above Barbados in second place with 206.325 points. Bermuda were third Image 8with 201.396 points,  Jamaica was fourth with 197.479 points, Haiti was fifth with 196.184 points and last was Trinidad and Tobago with 184.676 points.

Thaxton had this to say. “The CIEF is growing a strong group of equestrians. It is always a difficult choice to compose a Team from such depth. As a Team competition, sometimes the selection can involve one risk for a low score from a brilliant but overly sensitive horse. That sort of decision means that the other three must be solid anchors. This year’s choice was complex because of the talent and skill that is developing. I had the honor of choosing the strongest for this team, but there were many individuals that would have withstood the pressure of representing the Cayman Islands with brilliance. CIEF has an Olympic Team in the making, if they keep their present course.”

After a short celebration, the Team was back to work learning an entirely different set of Tests in preparation for the region’s next dressage competition on 1st June. This time it is the turn of the to organize the competition. The CEA have selected US Judge, Jeanne McDonald to travel to Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda and Cayman to judge riders from each country. McDonald hails from Turning Point Farm near Devon in Pennsylvania. She is well qualified for the job being a an FEI “I” and USEF “S” dressage judge, a USDF/USEF Dressage Sport Horse Judge and a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist.

Cayman’s win is no flash in the pan. Riders from this tiny island have won 4 of the last 5 international competitions they have entered, including last year’s CEA Dressage Competition. Now the have a taste for winning, the competition will certainly need to ‘bring it’ if they hope to break Cayman’s winning streak.

PHOTOS:

The winning Cayman Team (L to R) Tracey Surrey, Polly Serpell, Phoebe Serpell and Jessica McTaggart

Two of the winning horses (L to R) : SonRise David and Loris 7

 

 

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