USA, Dutch, German Teams & Other Horses at Kentucky Horse Park for WEG
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The American dressage team horses arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park Sunday in what Steffen Peters described as “perfect shape” to join the Dutch, German and other squads loosening up their mounts in preparation for the World Equestrian Games opening at the Kentucky Horse Park Saturday night.
Ravel, ridden by Steffen, of San Diego, California, Calecto V, ridden by Tina Konyot, of Palm City, Florida, Nartan, ridden by Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Otto, by Todd Flettrich, both of Wellington, Florida, arrived in Lexington early Sunday after a 12-hour drive from Gladstone, New Jersey. They had undergone two weeks training under the guidance of U.S. Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons.
Many foreign riders were highly complimentary about the Kentucky Horse Park on which an estimated $80 million (€61.2 million) has been spent building a new indoor arena, rebuilding the outdoor arena and other improvements that the organization that manages the 1,224-acre (495 ha.) facility says is already paying off with a huge boost in future events.
Many who had not before seen the Horse Park echoed the assessment of Australia’s Brett Parbery: “What a great venue.” Brett’s horse, Victory Salute, a seasoned traveler, flew in from Europe where he has been based with Moorlands Totilas, making his first flight.
The Dutch and German dressage teams, expected to take gold and silver, respectively, in the team competition, were released from the temporary quarantine center at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Saturday and explored the WEG show grounds Sunday. Extensive last minute construction was still underway.
Missing from the Dutch dressage squad for the first time in the history of the world championships held every four years is Anky van Grunsven of The Netherlands. She rode for Holland at the first WEG in Sweden in 1990 then Holland in 1994, Rome in 1998, Spain in 2002 and Germany in 2006. This year she is a member of the Dutch reining team.
The British team that is expected to be the biggest obstacle to American dressage team medal prospects will move from quarantine to the Horse Park on Monday.
The Canadian squad of Ashley Holzer and Pop Art, Belinda Trussell and Anton, Victoria Winter and Pikardi and Bonny Bonnello and Proton are based a few minutes from the Horse Park and will move in next Saturday, the day before the official veterinary check of all dressage horses.
The dressage competition starts Monday with two days of team competition at Grand Prix. Teams can have four horses with the three top scores counting toward the result.
The Grand Prix Special will be held Wednesday and the musical freestyle Friday night.
About 780 horses from 58 nations are expected to compete for the 16 days of WEG compared with 850 from 61 countries in the 2006 WEG in Aachen, Germany.
Alltech, the Kentucky-based animal nutrition and supplement company that paid $10 million (€7.7 million) to become the first sponsor to get its name on the event, is reported to have ended up spending three to four times the initial outlay to help the organizers pay for operations that spiraled to more than $80 million (€61.2 million) from the initial estimate of $50 million (€38.3 million).
In the final critical weeks, Alltech took over the accounting and paid creditors directly for everything from jumps to services and products vital for the Games to go ahead.
In all, the company founded and owned by Dr. Pearse Lyons has made an unprecedented commitment to WEG in Kentucky by spending more than the total of all sponsorship at the Games in Aachen.