Sunday, August 10, 2008

Event Horses Move to New Base Camp Across the Island to Run Cross-Country

Germany's Andreas Dibowski received a congratulatory hug from teammate Ingrid Klimke after his dressage test put him in 11th place...and the German team within striking distance of the Australians. (Hong Kong Jockey Club photo)

After yesterday's end of the dressage phase, the Eventing horses were transported to Beas River, located some 40 minutes away from the core Olympic equestrian venue at Sha Tin. This was done in a fantastic blitz operation during which the loading, transport and unloading took just over one hour.

Attired in their best travel boots to protect them from injuries during transportation, the 68 horses travelled in 11 huge horse vans escorted by 13 support vehicles. The unusual convoy was escorted by the police who ensured a clear road to avoid that these Very Very Important Passengers be held in any way.

The horses were unloaded from the lorries within seven minutes after their arrival on site and were immediately installed in temporary climatised stables to spend a comfortable night before Cross Country.

As I write this, it is late at night in Hong Kong and the horses are (hopefully) fast asleep. We are waiting for reports on temperature and humidity indices for Monday's highly technical cross-country run (which will technically be on Sunday night, USA time).

This might be a good time for everyone to hold his or her breath. Hold it for about the next 12 hours. The course at Beas River is highly, highly, highly technical, which means that it is not a "galloping" course at all. Some people describe it as show-jumping over natural obstacles on uneven ground. The horses will be required to collect and re-collect continuously throughout the course and the riders will need to remember a long list of optional routes that might (or might not) spare their horses but jeopardize their times.

Germany is nipping at Australia's lead now, and they are ready to attack on cross-country, thanks to Ingrid Klimke's stellar dressage test that put her in third place overall.

Klimke's teammate Andreas Dibowski told the FEI, "It will be a bit like an eight-minute jump-off!" he said, referring to the speed and frequency with which the fences will come up tomorrow. "There is no time to recover if something goes wrong so you need to give it 150% concentration but the German team position has improved, it's really looking good, and we are feeling very confident," he added.

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