The British team suffered some anxious moments at today’s first vets’ inspection at the Olympic three-day event in Hong Kong when William Fox-Pitt’s ride Parkmore Ed was sent to the holding box.
The ground jury was concerned over the presence of a girth gall just behind the saddle, but after conferring with vets they passed the horse.
“It’s a first for me,” said William. “The gall was caused by the girth being too tight or rubbing. He’s had it for a few days, but ironically today it was more swollen. I hope by the time the next inspection occurs they’ll have more important things to worry about.”
The rest of the British horses passed the first trot-up without incident. Only two horses, Literal from Chile and Butterfly from Brazil, failed.
Britain’s team order has now been confirmed with William and Parkmore Ed running second behind pathfinders Daisy Dick and Spring Along, who fulfilled the same role at last year’s Europeans in Pratoni. Tina Cook and Miners Frolic will be number three, Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town will run as number four, with Mary King and Call Again Cavalier given the anchor slot.
Mary admitted that she has been surprised by the intensity of Mike Etherington-Smith’s 29-fence cross-country course.
“There are a lot of jumping efforts in 8min of galloping,” said Mary. “The course is a lot bigger than in Athens and is a true four-star test. I think the time will be virtually impossible to get.”
Course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith confirmed that he didn’t believe any one of the 72 runners would get within the optimum.
The weather forecast is looking promising for Monday, when the cross-country is scheduled to start at 8am. The searing heat that is usual for Hong Kong in August has not yet materialised. The typhoon that passed over earlier in the week has left cooler and rainy conditions in its wake, which has also assisted the going.
“We did need rain. Maybe not quite as much as we’ve had in the last two days, but the wet makes the sandy footing more secure,” said Mike.
Mike also confirmed that, based on the current weather forecast, none of the loops especially designed for removal should conditions dictate it, will need to be taken out. However, should Hong Kong be subject to the deluge it experienced this morning, the start of the cross-country is likely to be delayed.
Stay in touch with all the Olympic news as it happens on HorseandHound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s full report from the Olympic eventing in Hong Kong — on sale Friday 15 August.