Among Balch’s most vivid memories of the Games at Santa Anita that are numerous enough to fill a book, he recalls His Royal Highness Prince Philip making the rather shocking request about halfway through the Games to drive six Clydesdales into the arena on the final day of competition for the closing medal ceremony. He wasn’t requesting to ride into the arena, mind you, but actually to do the driving himself of the six giant, powerful horses that were used to haul in the victory podium for the medals ceremony.
Fortunately, everything went smoothly and “the crowd went crazy” when they saw the Prince standing on a sled driving the Clydesdales inside the arena. In fact, it went so well that Prince Philip later boasted about it to his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, who had not been watching at the time. But the Queen of England didn’t believe her husband. His Royal Highness tried without success to find someone who had taken a photograph so he could prove it to her. Out of desperation, he finally wrote Balch a letter asking if he could provide a picture. Balch also had difficulty tracking one down but finally did so and sent it to the Prince, who responded with a hand-signed letter to Balch more than a year later.
Medal winners, including Joe Fargis, who won gold medals for the U.S. in both individual jumping and team jumping on his great mare called Touch of Class, were given the option of taking their winning horses with them or substituting other horses for the ceremony that was miles away.
All the medalists chose to keep their valuable horses at Santa Anita and use stand-ins at the “re-presentation.” Balch was honored to loan Fargis his personal horse, which they quickly nicknamed “Touch of No Class.”
Lots of stuff about the logistics and some wonderful pictures as well at the link.
I was one of the people in the stands for the dressage and it was an amazing, unforgettable experience.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket
Wow! Thanks for the memories. I attended the games at Santa Anita and it was something I will always remember. I remember Klimke doing his victory pass with the continuous tempi changes, and his hat in his hand. Watching Abdullah and Touch of Class, again wow! I also had tickets to the closing ceremonies, sitting up in the nosebleed section. I remember watching the medal ceremony for the show jumping at the Coliseum, thinking to myself ..."those horses sure don't look like the horses I saw jump at Santa Anita."
If I recall correctly, you couldn't pre-buy tickets to individual events. I bought my tickets when they first became available and I think one had to purchase the entire equestrian series. As the games drew closer, I think tickets for individual events were made available. What really ticked me off was that I had pre-bought the entire series, yet my assigned seat at Santa Anita was in the temporary grandstand on the north side that had no cover. I sweltered for days in the heat. Yet some friends who bought individual event tickets at a much later date were seated in the permanent grandstand in the shade. So much for giving the committe my money early. Does anyone else remember this happening?
We were in the temporary grandstand along the long side, but I can't remember if we bought "season" tickets to all the equestrian or not. We didn't get tickets to the closing ceremonies but did get to the opening ceremonies. Great memories. Thanks for the article.
For the Atlanta Games we got the season tickets and had, except for one of the eventing show jumping days (there were two since there were separate team and individual competitions), fabulous seats. Seats so good that we kept looking around and trying to figure out what we were doing there.