Vets and riders gave the Hong Kong Olympic test event the thumbs up after horses coped well with the cross-country last Sunday (12 August).
The weather for the “Good Luck Beijing Cup” was favourable, with rain bringing temperatures down from the 30°Cs earlier in the week to 26-29°C for the cross-country. But British chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner said the systems had had a good test.
“I think we know fairly well what we are dealing with,” he said.
Fifteen horses completed the 4,347m CCI** course, including two from Britain. Course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith used only half the area available on the golf course at Beas River for next year’s Olympics, so riders went twice round the same jumps.
“I felt a marked difference going up the hill after the 17th fence — my horse started to tire,” said Britain’s Amy Young. “He felt a bit down galloping after that, but he was still clearing his fences well.”
Only eventual winner Frank Ostholt (from Germany) made the time over the hilly, twisty course, but all the riders said their horses coped well with the humid conditions.
“I knew if we had all the cooling facilities in place horses could compete safely and I’m happy with how it’s gone,” said British vet John McEwen, chairman of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) veterinary committee.
The organisers had to cope with a typhoon warning — the first trot-up was postponed overnight — and monsoon-like rain for 2hr before the cross-country.
“It’s good that we had the rain, it put the systems under pressure,” said Mike Etherington-Smith. “The venue coped really well — the Hong Kong Jockey Club has done a fantastic job with the footing preparation.”
Riders praised the facilities at Beas River and those for the dressage and show jumping, 30min drive away at Sha Tin Racecourse. The stables are air-conditioned, with an air-conditioned indoor school (pictured above) at Sha Tin, plus six outdoor schools and grass gallops.
“Some small things need sorting, such as the location of the misting tents,” said Yogi Breisner. “And the start of the cross-country was delayed by 40 minutes because the ice lorry couldn’t get through security.”
Transport received the most criticism, with infrequent, slow shuttles between hotels and the competition venues.