Wednesday, 11 August 2010
The New Zealand WEG 2010 short-listers convened yesterday at Hunters Equestrian Centre for a training session, joined by a couple of Aussie short-listers, where they practiced 4* tests that were videoed and then reviewed. Short listed horses have experienced plenty of stadium time on their rise to the top, so the type of training that the NZL team and others perform out of the public gaze seems to me a very suitable type of schooling for team preparation and selection at this late stage.
The reason for posing this question is that I see a few potential issues with this practice. 'Schooling in Public' in horseracing is banned, predominantly because it would cause havoc with betting markets if allowed, so eventing would struggle to attract any real betting income. But more importantly, the events that are used for this training are almost exclusively the bigger 3 star events where the public are charged for entry, so it can be rather disappointing to watch a horse trials where 3 of the top 5 contenders withdraw before cross country (see Gatcombe results).
Incidently, the fact that both Inonothing & Happy Times were withdrawn after show jumping at Gatcombe when they were both in the top 5 to me suggests they have both been given 'the nod' for WEG 2010.
This time of year does of course provide good reason not to run cross country - hard ground, so Hartpury this coming weekend is going to be very interesting indeed, particularly because of the rain we've had and the entries. The CCI*** event is running no less than 15 WEG2010 short listed horses, I wonder if this has prevented other riders from getting an entry (another issue with schooling in public), after all any event can only run so many horses at this level. Badminton for example runs a wait list and Mark Todd only narrowly made Badminton this year after Aaron Miller withdrew Stormstay.
Justified or not, what a nightmare for event organisers trying to promote their events, and disappointing for spectators expecting to see top class action. Personally I'd like to see a change in the rules to prevent 'schooling in public' at 3 & 4 star level, but assisting riders by perhaps allowing HC entry.
I do hope Hartpury turns out to be a 'pipe opener' for the WEG short-listers, however there are also a number of entries for Highclere out of this field.