Frank Ostholt of Germany took home the blue at the Good Luck Beijing HKSAR 10th Anniversary Cup Eventing Competition in Hong Kong, held Aug. 11-13. The CCI** competition was held as a test event to see how the eventing would go at the Olympics next year since August is Hong Kong’s warmest month.
Ostholt added no penalties to his dressage score of 53.4 aboard After The Battle to finish ahead of his fellow countryman Dirk Schrade on Grand Amour (53.6) and Australia’s Shane Rose with Stratford Novalis (65.0).
Ostholt was the only rider to make time on cross-country. Continuous rain left the atmosphere steamy, but the footing stayed firm. U.S. rider Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM jumped a clean round with 12.4 time penalties, while Laine Ashker had two stops aboard Anthony Patch.
The show jumping took place at night under the floodlights. Despite the fact that the sun had set, the temperature remained high at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, but the humidity had came down to 75 percent. A clean round left Davidson in eighth place, and 20 jump penalties kept Ashker in 15th place.
The riders’ major interest was the effect that heat and humidity had on their horses. Most found that the animal athletes took the testing weather conditions better than the humans.
In addition to the team veterinarians, an international group of 30 experts had their eyes on the horses, gathering flight recovery and acclimatization data. Information on weight, water intake, and blood parameters was collected. It will be compiled in a comprehensive report that will be made public as soon as it becomes available. A special effort was made to cool the horses down after every major workout. Forty tons of ice cubes were used after cross-country.
The organization and the efforts of the Hong Kong organizers have been praised and appreciated, but some improvements will need to be made in the remaining year. The quality and speed of communications is one of them. Security is another. The Equestrian Company CEO Lam Woon-kwong declared further precautions will be aimed at plugging any apparent loopholes in security checks.
More than 1,000 police officers were deployed on each of the competition days, but it is too early to tell if any adjustments to manpower for next year will be necessary.
A field of 20 local riders from Hong Kong riding schools took part in a national class. This was the first eventing competition of a significant level in Hong Kong. The winner was Tara Delaney on Gagnant (52.9).
Apart from racing, equestrian sports have no tradition in Hong Kong, so the test event was an excellent opportunity for the public to become familiar with horse sports and to get a taste of Olympic spirit.