British riders to test Hong Kong facilities

  • Britain is to send several horse and rider combinations to a 2008 Olympics test event in Hong Kong next August.

    The two-star event is scheduled to run from 10-12 August 2007, exactly 12 months before the 2008 Olympics and at a time of year when humidity levels can reach 100%.

    “It’s a test event for all three disciplines, but the riders will use an eventing competition because it tests all three phases, as well as the procedures and organisation,” said British Equestrian Federation performance director Will Connell.

    He added: “We’re going to take two, possibly three combinations, from a short-list we compiled of about six horses. It was important to identify horses that will give us good data — we won’t be sending contenders for 2008 or 2012.”

    John Ridley, director of racing at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who is overseeing the development of the Sha Tin Racecourse into an Olympic equestrian site, expects about 12 overseas visitors.

    British World Equestrian Games team silver medallist Daisy Dick said: “The fact that they’ve got a test event will be seriously beneficial to all of us because none of our horses will have competed in those conditions. I’ll be fascinated to hear all the feedback.”

    Britain’s eventing team manager Yogi Breisner urged riders who fulfilled specific requirements to volunteer in October. All expenses will be paid for.

    “We want a horse of the right age and a similar stamp to what we’d take to the proper Games,” said Breisner.

    Although eventers are the only riders to attend, the support team is expected to head to Hong Kong next August.

    “We’ll take all the team vets — less about four show jumping vets because the event clashes with Dublin — and all the team managers,” said Connell. “We want to get as much information out of the event as we can — particularly about the flights and dealing with the acclimatisation.”

    Veterinary work on the effects of the heat and humidity on the horses is still ongoing, as is work on weather forecasting.

    The FEI has also ruled on minor changes to the eventing competition at the Games due to the “very special conditions of Hong Kong”. At a meeting on 17-18 November, the FEI reduced the eventing dressage test to 5mins, and ruled the team and individual jumping competitions be run without a break between them.

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