Thursday, 26 February 2009

Pushing String into Greenwich Park

I have a lot of Respect for Tim Hadaway, and he's currently holding what must be one of the most coveted jobs in eventing at the moment, but I wouldn't want his job right now! It's like pushing string....

I've found this video on uTube and I'm sticking by my views in my last post on this subject: Holding the Olympic 3-day-event in Greenwich Park is a mistake.

At the end of the video, check out the related videos (especially the Legacy the XC course is going to leave behind - or rather lack of it!)

If you really want to see the damage that will be done to Greenwich, visit Badminton a week after the event. Remember Badminton is held in Parkland that will recover far quicker than a formal city park like Greenwich. Also bear in mind the Duke of Beaufort has had various site changes made at Badminton in recent years because of the permanent damage that the temporary buildings have inflicted on the Deer Park (the huge media centre was moved for 2008 because it almost killed off the grass completely).

Let's put on a really great show somewhere more suitable - and save Greenwich Park.

Controversy & Compromise never leads to a successful outcome.

It really is time to look at realistic alternatives.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Spring is in the Air..........

...and a bunch of mad march hares are out cross country schooling.

After all that snow its so nice to finally see a little sunshine and warmth.

My horse having just had a brand spanking new haircut is fresh and ready to start work, so this last weekend I finally got stuck into the "get fit" campaign in preparation for the 2009 season. This started as a somewhat sedate flat session on Saturday. Given he has spent 4 months in relative hibernation working only one or two days a week, he's pretty fit and engaged. Sunday we spent with a little gentle jumping over a few simple fences in the school, just to see how settled and engaged he was, nothing stressful just a simple cross pole or two.

I did spend some time (on 2 feet) at the local cross country schooling ground on Sunday as well and I have to say it still astounds me how many people come cross country schooling:

without a plan or strategy
without any regard for safety
without any proper knowledge, supervision or instruction.

this can only lead to being ill prepared for the season ahead.

Like any form of schooling exercise, and especially when XC schooling, it is vitally important that everything you do has a realistic goal and purpose. Anything less is potentially dangerous, and will nearly always lead to disappointment somewhere along the line.

(see my blog post from April 22nd 08 if you're struggling to find enough good advice)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Q: Can Greenwich be the greatest show on Earth?

A: I'm a little skeptical....

As the snow melts and we're all busy getting horses fit and laying down plans for the 2009 season, the 2012 PR machine is warming up.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying running the Olympic 3-Day at Greenwich isn't feasible, I'm just not convinced it's the best one we could run.

Hong Kong I don't think could be classed as a resounding success, it was more like a half way house between express eventing and a decent 3 star.

Squeezing these 3 & 4 star events into small venues looses much of what makes these events the greatest - wide open spaces and big galloping tracks. What we're left with is little more than a showjumping speed class over solid fences. 

The Greenwich Park site sits on 180 or so acres (less than 1 square km), a tight space even without the 25 odd acres of shopping you usually find at other events. Now deduct a 23,000 seater stadium (that's nearly twice as many seats as Badminton), and 200 stables, then parking for ancillary vehicles, temp buildings, etc, etc. 

One word springs to mind: compromise.

Now for the IOC. The modern games have evolved constantly over the last 80 years with more "sports" being added every olympiad. This inevitably leads to other issues, like staging such a circus becomes more problematic in a modern city with the pressures on space that in itself creates. 

My point: As the games stand today it is mission impossible to host such a diverse range of events within the city walls (of any major city), so it's inevitable that events will need to creep into the countryside. So I don't get this whole "keep everything together" strategy. 

Now back to Greenwich. On the surface it does have good public transport links with a number of railway stations and major roads in the immediate vicinity.  But I can't help but think the audience for this event would prefer to drive. 

I sympathise with the local pressure group, particularly as this is a world heritage site, something I don't think should ever be sacrificed for such an event, remember this not parkland like Blenheim, it's a formal city park). Again this will lead to compromise. 

Top 5 Reason why it will be good but not great at Greenwich:

  1. 65% of Fences will be portable
  2. 80% of the audience will spend more than twice as much getting to the event than on admission
  3. It won't be a large galloping track (more an oversized pre-novice)
  4. There are better alternatives
  5. It requires too many compromises due to size & UNESCO status
The H&H came up with 5 reasons why they made a 180 degree turn and now support Greenwich as "the" venue, but these are woefully idealistic reasons. But then its hardly fleet street journalism is it?

For what's it's worth Windsor Great Park would be my choice of venue.

This won't stop me from going to the event at Greenwich, after all this is the only chance any of us will have of seeing the Olympics on home turf. That in itself is good enough for me. 


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