News of Hugh Thomas’ resignation has spread worldwide, and even mainstream media has picked up the story. Pippa Cuckson from the London Telegraph wrote an interesting article explaining all the fuss about closing the jog to the public. Definitely worth a read, so click on over for the entire article and voice your support. —Visionaire
Top: William Fox-Pitt and Lionheart, photo by Samantha Clark
We have heard a lot from Locog about the importance of bringing equestrianism to the capital – at previous Games, it’s variously been out in the sticks, separate countries and, in 1956, another hemisphere. But to enthusiasts this latest twist either suggests that Locog is not sufficiently interested in equestrian to have swotted-up on its idiosyncrasies, or does get it, but still doesn’t care. Either way, it leaves a sour taste.
The inspections (also known as “trot-ups” and “jogs”) involve each horse being led in front of judges who decide it is fit to compete. There is one before the eventing starts – in this case July 27, the day of the opening ceremony; Locog’s reason for not being able to cope with spectators.
The more critical one is the morning after cross-country, before the final show jumping phase, at 7.30 a.m, an hour before Locog wants to open the turnstiles.
It’s ironic this happens in the centenary year of eventing at the Olympic Games. The three-day event of Stockholm 1912 was based on the training of army horses, with the middle discipline – cross-country and endurance – aimed at testing bravery and agility for the battlefield.
Only a few hundred people might have wanted to watch the first inspection at Greenwich, maybe two or three thousand the second, but that’s not the point: it’s part of the competition, and because overnight leaders can be sensationally chucked-out if the horse is remotely sore, public scrutiny is the guarantee of integrity.
The specialist Olympic dressage and show jumping disciplines, which begin once the eventing has finished, have inspections on July 31 and August 2, 3 and 8. Unlike eventing, these are not “contact” sports, so horse inspections are a simple advance check of wellbeing, with reduced spectator appeal.
Three of them take place on days when ticket-holders are already on site. With all this publicity some might now, out of sheer cussedness, descend on these more routine jogs. Locog’s transport management plan does, after all, encourage spectators to stagger journeys home by hanging around in the park. That’s the second irony.
The third is that Thomas won the same battle at two previous Games when obligatory public access wasn’t in FEI Olympic rules. Now it is, but the rule is not being enforced.