Eventing fans were left angry and disappointed at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy (30 August).
Massive queues into Haras du Pin on cross-country day meant many missed out on half of the action on course.
After more than four hours in stationary traffic, many abandoned their cars, walking miles to the event, and some even gave up completely.
H&H has reported many times on grumbles in the run-up to WEG, with fans calling the organisation “farcical”.
And troubles did not stop when visitors arrived in France. This week H&H has been inundated with complaints from angry fans about WEG.
Reader Hazel Bailey said it was an “absolute disgrace”. “We were stuck in traffic for six hours,” she told H&H. “About 11km away some people decided to walk. We eventually got there but only saw two hours of competition. We spent thousands of pounds and would have been better off watching it on TV.”
Sue Hatt left at 8.45am for what should have been a 40min journey. She eventually arrived at 12.40pm.
“There were police but they were ineffective as there were too many cars trying to go in one way,” she said.
Many described the traffic as “a joke” and “disastrous”.
H&H reader Ian Denis added:“WEG2014 was the most appalling spectator experience of any major event. FEI wake up.”
Mud and queues
Thick mud, queues for food, dirty loos and a lack of information were also gripes.
As heavy rain continued the eventing site turned to a bog, and there were many complaints about parking and queues for food — with people waiting up to 90min.
“It’s a shame because they are not catering well for the public,” said Annika Digreus from Sweden.
Even riders were horrified.
“We were expecting so much, but it failed to deliver on almost every front,”said H&H columnist Mark Todd.
“We riders probably did better than the spectators — it’s them I feel most sorry for.”
Complaints to organiser
H&H reader Jo Wise said it has put her off attending an event like this again. “With the excellent TV coverage it would have been far more pleasurable — and cheaper — to stay and watch
from home,” she said.
“Surely there must be some accountability, either from the FEI for selecting this venue, or the organising committee, for what can only be described as complete shambles for many spectators.”
A spokesman for the FEI told H&H it was “too early to evaluate” as the Games were only halfway through.
“Obviously we know there have been some issues. We have addressed these to the Organising Committee, which is working on resolving them,” she added.
H&H contacted the organisers but had no response.
The main competition site — at the D’Ornano stadium in Caen, which is usually home to football — received more favourable reviews.
Charlotte Barter visited for the dressage on 29 August to see Charlotte win gold.
“The range of trade stands and food is great and the displays were fun,” she said.
However, people also had problems on Sunday (31 August) attending the showjumping phase of the eventing at the venue.
“There were massive disorganised queues of people outside the stadium today waiting to get in; it was like a refugee camp,” said one spectator.
Originally published on Thursday 4 September in H&H magazine