For those that invested their savings in spread betting on “they will not make their connections” . . . it is bad news; a clutch of Endurance riders, a posse of Dressage grooms and a Welsh delegation consisting of a Scottish vet and a helicopter owning farrier all managed to navigate their way through the challenges of entering the USA and connected with their allocated flights to Lexington and Cincinnati. A Scottish vet from Wales; ok, so I am writing this after a rather pleasant dinner in Lexington but I refer to His Greatness, Doctor John McEwen; GBR Dressage Team Vet and occasional Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee.
John also represents the first bona fide senior member of the FEI to arrive in WEG land. Former hierarchy of the FEI are a plenty here; current hierarchy of the FEI may be here but appear to have donned their invisibility cloaks. So today’s challenge is “who are the former hierarchy of the FEI strutting their funky thing at WEG?
Today was another day of hard work, sweat, toil and small steps towards the goal of preparedness. But many small steps make long journeys.... Union flags are now flying above our stables; our Golf buggies (now referred to as Bugs) are decorated with flags, bunting and (I am embarrassed) equine teddy bears – this is all to ensure nobody can steal our, not 2, not 4 but 9 Bugs. Mucking out kit, wheel barrows, stable guards and buckets are all distributed to our 7 different stable blocks and covered with Union flag stickers to dissuade the pilferers. We have started to run in the cables to each pair of stables so that we can attach fans to keep the horses cool. Sarah and Sophie have been (I now use a colloquial term) – working their butts off getting all the clothing, umbrellas, ruck sacks and information ready for the new arrivals. A trip to Walmart secured a Range Rover full of drinks to stock up our central store (we are keen to get as much in to the stables as possible prior to the banning of vehicles from the stables and our parking area being moved to a location 10 minutes walk from the stables.
Our Physio (for the athletes; we refer to Human Physio and Equine Physio – the latter being a human who treats horses rather than a horse that treats humans.....bear with my madness), Andy Thomas is going to just love his “Physio Room” to which we have now added a red carpet.... no comments please, the carpet was on special offer. It is located next to our Team Room (where the very large fridge resides.....but no kettle....yet....well, we have two kettles....but we sort of blew the fuses when we turned them on....where is an electrician when you need one.
Des Payton has also been very busy getting the Endurance stables ready for the arrival of the horses tomorrow . . . . yes, our first horses arrive at the Venue tomorrow (well today as you read this); the Endurance horses and one Reining horse arrive in WEG land tomorrow; exciting but ......please can we have another couple of days to get ready? The news from the Post Arrival Quarantine (PAQ) is that all the horses are doing well which is great. Spare a thought for the horses that came in from Australia.....35 hour flight followed by 48 hours in Quarantine....eek! Mark Beever is doing a fantastic job running PAQ for the Brits and I think that other Nations would like to clone him (and probably his Land Rover Discovery that he drives the grooms and vets around in).
As I write, the Dressage horses will be getting ready to load on to the aircraft in Liege, Belgium. All our horses fly from Liege and will spend the 8 hours before the flight in temporary stables on a car park at Liege airport. The horse flights are organised by Peden Bloodstock with whom we have worked closely for many years; I am slightly worried that the largest ever air lift of horses is going to drive Martin Atock and Henry Bullen over the edge.....they have worked very hard on our behalves and I am sure it will all work according to plan!
The first Chefs de Mission meeting took place yesterday afternoon; there is still not a full complement of Chefs de Mission “on site” but it was well attended: It was good to catch up with some familiar faces and pleasing that the Organising Committee (that would be Organizing in USA spelling) want to work with us to make WEG a success . . . .there is still much to do. The Grooms’ Accommodation is still a concern with no catering outlet and more Grooms than we had hoped allocated to some RVs (big caravans in English) – the OC are working hard to get a catering van in to the Grooms’ Village; this will remain in position until the 22nd when the Athletes / Staff / Grooms dining opens (the only trouble being that this facility is 1 mile from the Grooms’ accom.... I will be working hard to keep this “Van” in place until the end of the Games. So today, we will be off to Walmart again to stock the RVs with plates / cutlery / mugs / kettles / coffee / tea / cereal etc so that they can at least make themselves breakfast in bed! The Grooms are the hardest working people at any Venue and deserve to be treated better than then they sometimes are; one of the great pluses of Greenwich as the Equestrian Venue for London 2012 is that the Grooms will be in a 4* hotel – result!!
18th September will be a busy day with horses arriving in Cincinnati and at the Venue; fingers crossed that it goes without a hitch..... If Mr Hitch appears I will retreat to my personal de-stressing room, my bolt hole...my Range Rover Sport...in British Racing Green.
P.S. VERY hot and sunny here; so bad luck chilly old UK!
Copyright Team GBR