Friday, 20 July 2012

Day Five - New Lodgings

Another day, another Hotel.  A couple of hours at the computer and then I hot footed it down to Hickstead.  On the way I had a quick look at the Equine Staging Facility (ESF).  It was the Equine Staging Post...but then some switched on spark realised that it might become a hotspot for Rioja drinking, castenet playing party goers........with me yet...ESP = Spain.

The ESF is where all horse boxes / horses will pass through on their way in to Greenwich:  Horses will have an initial Health check while the horseboxes are security screened; kit will be taken away, screened and delivered separately to the Venue.  The ESF is taking shape and I know with Jenny Hall (Veterinary Services Manager) and Martin Atock / Henry Bullen (Peden) the needs of the horses will be well catered for.  Once I had snapped a couple of photos it was on to Hickstead....

Fair to say that the Hickstead horsebox park was not; the weather had been unkind and the horseboxes had demonstrated their ploughing abilities; but all was being done to get the horseboxes in and out and a well oiled machine was overseeing vehicular control.

The Main Arena was, however, ......very green.  The going was perfect, despite the rain that had fallen.  This is testament to the investment the Bunn family put in to the arena over the last few years with Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) carrying out major (and very costly) work after the 2010 Royal International.  The arena is now probably the best grass arena in the world.

I have spoken much about what I have been up to but a quick catch up around the country:  Eventing have just completed three days of training that culminated in a Combined Training competition (dressage & jumping).  To help create an atmosphere we ensured the arena was fully “dressed” and we also brought in a small but very vivacious “rent a crowd”.  Reports were that all the horses looked good but there is still room for improvement.  Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage were out in force (as was the rain) at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage; Janet Plant and her team were most helpful and accommodating to our needs and endless requests . . . . thank you.  The showjumpers trained earlier this week prior to heading off to their final competitions with their Olympic horses: Nick Skelton and Scott Brash to France with the others all competing at Hickstead (although Ben and Peter’s Olympic horses will only jump on Day 1...i.e. today...or yesterday when you read be accurate, I am referring to Thursday!).

Meanwhile back in the Cauldron (the office at Stoneleigh) Sarah, Sophie and Debbie will be preparing to close up the office and move to London.  It has been some admin challenge getting to the start blocks...not always helped when so much time is spent chasing people for information.  The Olympics generates forms, restrictions and annoying rules and regs like no other competition; but coping with this sort annoyance is part of learning to win at the Games. 

Over 1300 items of clothing have been sent out (this is in addition to what the BOA hands out)...pallets / trunks dropped off with each rider...a horsebox full of kit sent to distributed...endless phone calls received (no, there is no car parking at Greenwich); 4 forms per rider, 3 per all other accredited staff completed.... twin track entry system followed (one through the FEI one through the BOA to LOCOG)....telephones distributed...telephone cards printed...Handbooks / Travel Guides written and distributed. So it goes on and on.  But that is what we are here to do...!

Friday is Nations Cup day at Hickstead,  The British Team has been drawn first so Will Funnell will be the pathfinder.  Germans and French have strong teams but the British riders are all very experienced Hickstead riders...GOOD LUCK.        

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