Showjumpers are still not happy with the surface to be used at the 2012 Olympics after a second round of tests suggested the going was still “too heavy”.
Olympic organiser LOCOG confirmed work will be done before the surface is tested for a third time later this year, at a private venue. It will be again tested on a raised platform to replicate the Games conditions.
And at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last month the surface was tested again, this time by eight top showjumpers – who LOCOG declined to name – where the feedback was similar.
The surface, provided by Andrews Bowen, was tested the day after competition at HOYS – and was a “slightly deeper” surface than the one used throughout the show. A spokesman for HOYS said they had been happy with its surface.
A spokesman for LOCOG said: “Further work was requested to look at the composition of the surface. We have listened to this feedback and will continue to work with the FEI and representatives of the international riders’ clubs to achieve the best possible solution for 2012.”
Around 8,000 tons of surface are required for the arena and warm-up areas at Greenwich next year.
At the test event in July top rider Laura Kraut described the ground as a “little bit tacky and heavy” but added: “I don’t think this will be the final product.”
Nick Skelton said: “It is heavy and dead to ride on, but if this isn’t the ground we’re jumping on next year, why are we here? I’d like to see horses move across it more easily.”
William Funnell said jumping 1.45m felt like 1.55m. But rider David O’Brien said: “It felt solid and secure to me.”
Contrary to speculation, LOCOG said it is not currently looking for a new supplier.
John Roche, FEI’s jumping director, said: “We have full confidence in LOCOG’s ability to produce optimal footing for London 2012.”
Andrews Bowen declined to comment.
This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse and Hound (3 November, 2011)