‘I wanted to cry’: historic gold for horse who lives out 24/7 and his ‘best friend’

  • Ecuadorian rider Julio Mendoza Loor won historic Pan American Games gold with a horse who lives out 24/7 – and is his “best friend”.

    This first dressage gold for the country in the Games’ 72-year history went to Julio and Jewel’s Goldstrike, whose freestyle performance earned them a score of 87.23, the top spot on the podium, and qualification for Paris 2024.

    “I can’t believe it – history for Ecuador and I got my spot for the Olympics today so it’s really exciting!” Julio said.

    In Sunday’s (22 October) grand prix the combination had some costly mistakes, but on Monday they won the grand prix special.

    “My plan was to go mistake-free and I did it!” Julio said, adding that he knew he had to hold his nerve.

    “Especially after my last pirouette/piaffe, [going] straight from pirouette to piaffe which is really complicated, he was really ready for it. After that I had to hold in my tears because I just wanted to cry!”

    Julio said “Goldie” is a member of the family.

    “I got him from a friend five years ago and the first time I rode him I was laughing because he wanted to be a little bit cheeky and I said ‘come on baby, bring it on!’” Julio said.

    “I love his character and we’ve become best friends.

    “He lives outside 24/7; he has his own stall with his name on it but he loves his field. For me if that’s where he is happiest then that’s where he has to live.

    “I can’t express how grateful I am to this horse. He gave me everything and more than I deserve, and I’m always going to be grateful to him. He’s always going to be at home in the field – I love him!”

    Brazil’s João Marcari Oliva and Feel Good VO took individual silver and US combination Anna Marek and Fire Fly the bronze. The second individual Olympic ticket on offer went to Chilean rider Svenja Grimm with Doctor Rossi, who came eighth.

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