Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Monday, 30 July 2012
The course has been causing some problems and Mary herself was held on course after a fall from the rider in front of her.
Commenting on her round Mary said:
I'm thrilled to only have two time penalties. I was lucky, I'd jumped the difficult water, the steepest of the hills was about to come up so it was a good place for a breather. We could both get our puff back a bit and then the trick was to pick up the speed of the gallop again and get going.
He powered up the hills, they weren't a problem at all but he was quite difficult to turn. Archie isn't totally suited to this type of course but we felt he's so talented we had to bring him here. I knew he would be hard to steer as he loves to gallop. The Crowd in a way made him run a bit quicker so he wasn't always paying attention to me.
Commenting on her round she said;
He's just unreal, what a fantastic horse. This is his favourite phase by far, when he's allowed to go cross country it's like all his birthdays have come at once. I'm absolutely privileged to ride such a fantastic horse at the Olympics. It really is a dream come true, I had such a perfect ride all the way round and I'm so grateful.
The support from the crowd was just deafening, unreal I couldn't even hear my watch beeping for my minute markers. It didn't bother him at all though; I think he enjoyed all those people there to see him. Amazing!
Well whoever wrote the script for the second day of dressage qualifies for an Oscar nomination for imagination. It is a strict rule that anyone accredited at the Olympics is banned from being involved in any betting.....but if I had a sneak preview of the aforementioned script, I would certainly have handed in my accreditation placed a £10 bet and made myself a millionaire. Do not get me wrong, those that head the rankings rode like true Olympians and deserve to be where they are. As if there were not enough challenges in producing a dressage test that scores over 70%, the weather decided it wanted in on the Greenwich action (anyone who is anyone is popping in to this gig - definitely the place to be seen).
Tina Cooks' explanation as to how she coped with the torrential rain, thunder, roof to a Judges' Box flapping was the moment of the day......something along the lines of..."it rains a lot on the South Downs and I don't have an indoor school". What Tina demonstrated was the perfect example of "coping with the unexpected": prior to the Games we worked hard on aspects such as this.... This included work we funded with the assistance of the Lottery funding (UK Sport) and a very useful video produced by the BOA that tracked what happened in the diving in Athens when someone jumped in to the pool wearing a tutu!! Essentially all the favourites choked and performed poorly and the Greeks came from nowhere and won the Gold.
I think I mentioned previously (I am getting a little senile and so the memory is going....) that if you do not like being judged..don't do dressage. It would be easy to make comments about some of the judging but what's the point? The Ground Jury (the judges) give their opinions based on their professional judgement.....as in all walks of life, not all will agree with everyone's opinions!
We were highly delighted with the riders and horse which were either achieving personal bests or were very close in terms of their performance. It is difficult to make scoring comparisons between Championships......the leader here is on 38, at the Europeans last year leader was on 31 / 32. Also the dressage Test that was ridden here is different to say the Europeans or Badminton. We still have a small aversion to flying changes.... With all the professional support we have in place, clearly I have missed a trick...and need to learn from the Japanese....next time we will have a Vicar on the team...work it out... we are placed slightly higher than we thought we might be so all in all a good day at the office.
All will depend on how the Cross Country rides and how tight the time is.........
How to make a farrier happy......Mr Haydn Price had no coat hangars...Mr Haydn Price now has coat hangars. Happy Mr Welsh farrier.
One of the main challenges for a Team Leader.....? Stopping vets spreading their kit around the stable office. Solution 1) Buy the a big trunk on wheels then 2) put a big cable and padlock around it then 3) do not give His Lordship McEwen a chair so he has to sit on the other vet trunks, thus preventing him spreading kit.
Tomorrow is cross country day and all are busy......fingers crossed
|Before in the stables|
|After in the stables!|
Sunday, 29 July 2012
"At 10 yrs old Lion is a lot younger than some of the other company, this is his first championship and he’s not a great big moving warmblood horse, so hopefully he’s going to come into his own the next two days and that’s why’s he’s here. He was never selected for this phase; he’s produced a PB today, Tracie Robinson [eventing dressage coach] has been working really hard with us and he’s going so much better. He’s in the toughest company in the world and not far off the lead so we’re certainly hoping things go our way tomorrow and it’s not going to be a dressage competition.
All the horses have gone very well, certainly Yogi is thrilled, they’ve all done a good a test as we could have hoped and you can’t expect for more. You can wish the judges had given a few more marks - particularly to Nicola who I think was very harshly marked but that’s the game, that’s part of the deal. I hope that the next couple of days are going to be demanding and I hope we’re going to answer the questions.
I rode the [cross country course] at the test event, it was reasonably tough then, this one is twice as long and it’s going to be a be a big, testing track. There could be a cumulative effect - with the horses going very fast towards the end you’ve got to hope that they stay sharp and with a couple of very steep hills, we don’t know how tight the time will ride. That’s what three day eventing is all about though. If they all skip round clear inside the time I’ll be very disappointed.
There are a lot of very good horses here; it’s very exciting that the marks are close to get there. Let’s hope we can go really well tomorrow.
42 I’m pleased with, I would have loved it to be a couple of marks better but we didn’t make any mistakes. He has a really fabulous brain that wants to please, he seems to cope with these atmospheres which is quite surprising as he’s quite a sensitive horse but he wants to try his best and he did by ignoring everything else that was going on around him. It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t perfect but I’m pleased with what he did. I’ve been eventing for 20 odd years and you do get this thrown at you. We can’t stop the competition and say, actually, I don’t want to do it now. At an Olympic Games you hope you’re not going to have thunder and lightning and rain thrown at you but I have and you have to deal with it.
So things did creak a little at Greenwich.... not back of house but on the public side: however, it is worth remembering that this is a brand new venue and today it opened for the first time to the public...for 20,000 spectators. Quite a challenge when you introduce the myriad of rules and regulations that accompany a Games... add to that the 80+ functional areas that make up a Games Organising Committee ...and there will always be difficulties. Tonight we had a talk from an IOC representative about Rule 50 - this is the Rule that governs National emblems and manufacturers' marks...confused.com .......pass the Rioja.
Oh yes, we had some horses dancing today.....and they strutted their funky thing. Nicola was first to go for the Brits.... Dodi (Opposition Buzz) is not a natural dressage supremo but under the watchful eye of a true dressage supremo (Tracie Robinson) Nicola and Dodi have been working very hard at circles and bumps. All that hard work paid off and the pair of them delivered a clear round...I.e. No serious mistakes. I have head that they were harshly marked...but here is a thing; if you do not like being judged, do not do a judged sport! 51.7 pen is a damn good result. Next to go for the Brits was Mary King and Imperial Cavalier. Archie has demonstrated an ability to let his exuberance loose upon his army of fans.....that would not have been ideal in a stadium of 20,000 fans...But Mary is at her 6th Olympic Games for good reason....she is a consummate professional who knows how to deliver when it is the time to deliver......40.9 pen and 3rd going in to the second day. Much will change tomorrow but we are happy with day 1.
Apparently one of eventing's most accomplished riders also has a squirrel problem at their Home Yard.....perhaps a post Games holiday is taking shape.....Nutkins beware.
On a more serious note...the perhaps unexpected stars of these Games are the soldiers, sailors and airman that are manning the "mag and bag" and providing the security. H5T were manning the gate in to the stables but it is now manned by soldiers (phew). So many people from other Nations have commented to me how helpful, polite, cheerful and damned professional the soldiers are that are on duty at Greenwich - they are right at the heart of the reason that the all are enjoying being at Greenwich. They deserve a medal........ Will that medal take the form of additional leave or a financial bonus........?
Saturday, 28 July 2012
|the ITT 'tent'|
|Squirrels in the park|
Back to the ITT..... This is designed to be a facility For the "team" that surround the athletes...owners, family, close friends; it is a place to meet up and relax. The National Maritime Museum have kindly provided the home for the ITT.....so it falls outside the cartilage of the Venue but can be accessed from the Venue...kinda contradictory statement but believe me!
As competition is about to start so there will be a peak in pressure / stress (for me) as we pass through the inevitable teething problems of Day 1 of competition.......and then it really is over to the stars...the athletes and the horses. It is going to be close competition, nail biting moments and sport at its very very best.
Commenting on her test Nicola said;
Friday, 27 July 2012
So yes, prior to taking up the reins as Performance Director I served for 17 years: Royal Regiment of Artillery - I am a very lucky person..... Commanding the King's Troop RHA was a privilege and an honour..... I am lucky because I feel that same sense of pride (most of the time - sometimes I want to hit them over the head with a cricket bat and shout read what you have been sent and stop changing your minds!!) working with the team of people I do now. The King's Troop is well represented at Greenwich: Brendan Murray, Mark Fisher, Brian Elliot, Mark Houghton and a gaggle of Saddlers amongst others.
|Walking the course|
|One of the fences overlooking Canary Wharf|
|And the squirrels....|
Thursday, 26 July 2012
The Draw has been kind to us; GBR runs 17th of 22 Nations with SWE and NZL the only Teams after us....and they are very strong Teams!
Training day today. There are a wide choice of training areas available, most of which are situated between the stables and the Main Arena. Greenwich Park is on a slope (yes, I am fully aware there is a socking big hill....but the northerly end where the arena is, is also on a slope) and the Arena and many of the training arenas are built on platforms....a massive engineering feat that is most impressive. Some training areas are allocated to Nations on a rotational basis, others are open to all. There is also an all weather gallop that runs along the side of the main road through the Venue. Some pictures will give you a better feeling:
|Mary King rides Imperial Cavalier between the training arenas and back to the stables|
|Nicola Wilson hacks Opposition Buzz down the canter track|
|one of the platformed training areas|
|William Fox-Pitt leads Lionheart back from a workout with groom Jackie|
|Tina Cook exercises Miners Frolic under the watchful eye of Yogi Breisner|
|Training arenas built into the sloping site|
|The complex construction under the platform|
Challenge of the day....preparing for the Opening Ceremony;
Last LOCOG Bus for the Village departs Greenwich at 1520 hrs
GBR allocated training time in one of the important training areas (i.e. one that will be used as part of the competition warm up) – finishes 1715 hrs (some Nations do not finish until 1915 hrs....)
Opening Ceremony does not finish until after midnight.......I understand how important the Opening Ceremony is...but it does slightly dominate all else and is certainly causing me headaches.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
|Team farrier, Brendan|
|View from one of the stands overlooking the London skyline|
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Our kit arrived in the afternoon and once the pallets (feed, forage and trunks were all packed on pallets by the grooms to make for easier moving) were delivered to the stables an army of volunteers arrived to help unload it....what would have taken well over an hour was completed in 20 minutes; thank you, thank you. All is now packed away and the stables ready for the arrival of the equine superstars.
|British kit arrives....|
|....the unloading operation|
|The stables decked out in Team GB bunting|
Horses arrive tomorrow.....and we hope, some riders...fingers crossed.
Monday, 23 July 2012
|Our Royal welcome at St.Mary's Gate, Greenwich|
The aim of today was to get Sarah Armstrong’s lorry unpacked and start setting up the stables. Mr Efficient Henry Bullen had already moved the horsebox down to the stables so we were out of the starting blocks quicker than a bolting Bolt. All hands to the pumps to get the horsebox unloaded (apparently the new trolley or flatbed to give it the title it would have had at the King’s Troop) is called Trevor....why everything has to have a name is beyond me but that is the world I work in! Sarah Armstrong and Brendan Murray (this will be his 6th Olympic Games) continued to set up the stables for most of the day.
|Unloading 'Sarah's lorry'|
Definition of ironic....man watering grass in Great Britain...in July 2012. However, there is a reason; this was turf that had been recently laid to ensure all looked spick and span and that the Park remains in good condition. Apparently this, “lay and play” turf needs watering to help it take as soon as possible.
At the other end of the scale....we were asked to don blue plastic overshoes to enter Devonport House...to keep everything as clean as possible prior to the arrival of the grooms.
|Will sporting very fetching blue shoe protectors - heading into Devonport House, the 5* Grooms accomodation requires clean shoes!|
The day concluded with the first Team Leaders’ Meeting; Team Leader is Olympic talk for what we would call a Chef de Mission at a World Equestrian Games – i.e. me for GBR. There is a British Chef de Mission for all sports across Team GB and that is Andy Hunt from the BOA. Technically there is no such term as Chef d’Equipe at the Games, although, being equestrian, we continue to refer to Team Managers (Yogi Breisner / Richard Waygood / Rob Hoekstra) as Chefs d’Equipe...which of cause slightly confuses the non-equestrians!
A great touch by LOCOG – a glass of something after the meeting so everyone could have a good chin-wag. Horses (not GBR) start arriving tomorrow.
|Getting sorted in the stables....|
|View from outside the stables|
|Platformed training arena|
|Platform support system - all of the stabling and training arenas are built on platforms to protect the Park|
|Looking over the training arenas|
|Ramp up to the training arenas|
Sunday, 22 July 2012
|My 'cool' personalised stamps|
The main Dining Hall is becoming busier, with more food serving “stations” opening and hence, more choice opening up. Also the “grab and go” food stalls around the Village are also now open for business......no, you red blooded males...not that sort of “grab & go”......but I so hear you.......Ladies’ Hockey is in town.
|View from the eventing athlete's apartment over the Park|
The Tour progressed around the Village, following a well trodden route but a new option was available today and that was a trip in to the main Olympic Park...and it was time well spent; the photos speak volumes.
|walking towards the Main Stadium|
|the Velodrome from the river bridge|
|The Basketball stadium from another river bridge - note the raft of fireworks ready for the opening ceremony|
|The Velodrome from one of the pedestrian walkways through the landscaped park|
You want my prediction? Gee...I hate that question.... Well here we go...the Nations that win the medals will be made up of athletes and staff that can leave the politics at home, ignore the negative innuendos that circle equestrian sport, can soak up the positives of the Games whilst avoiding getting sucked into the plethora of distractions.... they will be the very best that retain the ability to demonstrate they are the best. These will be the closest equestrian competitions we have seen at a major championships / Games and I believe that the difference between medals and no medals will be tiny....those that can retain the mental strength to win will be the ones that leave with medals around their neck.
As Sherlock Holmes said (sort of)....the games are afoot.....
Saturday, 21 July 2012
|Reasons for not staying another night|
For the Brits it was a day of 4 faults....nothing jumped badly it was just one of those days when not everything went “quite to plan”. Tina Fletcher and Hello Sailor jumped an excellent clear in the first round but joined the team of 4s in the second....Tina is travelling reserve for the Games so this was the perfect demonstration that they are ready to step up to the plate if required. It must be one of the most difficult tasks being a 1st reserve; you want to be a team player and support your fellow riders.....but is there a niggling feeling lurking at the back of your mind that whispers..maybe, just maybe? Tina is fulfilling her role as travelling reserve with great aplomb.
So it is as close as it can be in the League. Well Germany have won and France are safe....but the rest of us head to Dublin needing a good result. Why is it important the observant ones ask! Yes, this is likely to be the last year of the current format for the Top Level Nations Cup League (8 teams competing at 8 shows) – there are many ideas floating around but it is not impossible that there will be some sort of series / league that draws on the top 6 of this year’s League....and being able to choose Teams to compete at 5* Nations Cup shows is vital for the development of the sport in GBR post London 2012. Riders in the top 30 of the Rolex Rankings can get to all the top Shows...but others struggle...and to move up the Rankings, one needs to be at the top Shows! Also Nations Cups allow developing riders and developing horses the opportunity to compete at the top level. So Dublin will be important......and Agha Khan day (Nations Cup) in Dublin is a very very special day in the Jumping calendar....you have got to be there to feel it and drink the atmosphere (you will not alone in the drinking bit!)...so book your tickets now!!!
Arrivals start tomorrow. Sophie Thomas, Sarah Armstrong, Claire Shand and Brendan Murray all arrive tomorrow. I am not sure how many Games Brendan has done (eventing farrier) but he seems to recall the last time the Games were in London with great clarity. I will take them up to the Olympic Village to validate their accreditation and have a nose around; the ladies can go shopping and Brendan and I will head to the Dining Hall to see if the Swedish ladies’ soccer team are still in town....
So, tomorrow the graft starts; we will have three Land Rovers full of kit to unload in to our Office / Conference Room. It is tempting to work late right from the off....and that tends to bite you on the posterior at a later stage of the Games.....so, on that note...good night!
Friday, 20 July 2012
Thursday, 19 July 2012
So the emails; this was very much lastminute.com admin, tying up all the various arrivals, accommodation plots etc etc. Oh yes...and just to add to the “To Do List”..all my Paralympic ParalympicsGB clothing turned up today; I am now a registered and recognised Adidas clothing Store.
We are in the “Games Period” now – this means that all athletes are considered in competition and through the BOA have to record their Whereabouts (where they are sleeping / competing / training) – this is for anti doping measures and the Testers will be on the road knocking on athletes’ doors. All of Team GB that have accreditation are now officially “under command” of the BOA. This “Games Period” continues through to 15th August, regardless of whether athletes have finished competing and have left London.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
- One times Blackberry
- One times HTC Smart phone thingy with a keyboard and touch screen.....get me (I can't use 99% of the functions but it is SMART!)
- One times iPad (ditto to Smart phone ref understanding it)
- One times Nokia phone....which apparently takes photos......
|Very powerful symbols|
|The Olympic Village|
|The view from inside|
|Athlete's bedroom with presents|
|The dining hall|
|Flag raising ceremony|
|The grooms validating their accreditation|
|One to show their grandchildren....|
|View from the Village|