Today was an exciting day as the first Canadian Team horses arrived – the event horses. Madison Park (Kyle Carter), Kingpin (Mike Winter), Buenos Aires (Sandra Donnelly), Columbo (Selena O’Hanlon) and Livewire (Samantha Taylor) all stepped off the rockstar horse van looking great. The Hong Kong Jockey Club officials demonstrated their superior skills in getting the horses off the plane, into the horse van and to the stables in less than 2 hours since the plane touched down. A little different than Rio that’s for sure!
The horses seem to enjoy their new luxurious accommodation and settled in quickly. The Canadian Eventing Team have been preparing at a training camp in Florida so both the horses and riders are already well acclimatized to the hot & humid weather. Other horses arriving today include those from the Netherlands and Germany, including Anky herself who strolled by on Salinero. Although the barns have been pretty quiet these past couple of days things will be getting busy fast as more horses continue to arrive. Next Canadian horses due are the Dressage Team who are set to arrive July 30th. Very exciting!
Also woth mentioning are the grooms quarters. I had the chance to take a small tour and they are really quite nice. Each room sleeps 3 and includes its own bathroom & shower. There are also common areas with couches, tvs, a selection of newspapers and computers with internet access. And a pool! The grooms seem quite happy with the setup.
Misting station for the horses
another warmup ring
one of the common rooms in the grooms quarters
check out the incredibly spacious aisles, complete with rubber matting
very fluffy stall
muck baskets and broom...Hong Kong style
Madison Park and Paige
Livewire and Debbie
Columbo and Pam
Buenos Aires & Marlene
walking towards the stables
.....enjoying a quick catnap
Hospitality Desk at the airport
The flight was 15 1/2 hours long, and it felt every minute of 15 1/2 hours long……but I finally made it to Hong Kong. I think Mike was worried that I would leave gouge marks in his arm, and was pleasantly surprised to find that his arms were mark free. Travelled beside a woman who has been teaching in Singapore for the last 5 years and regularly makes the trip back and forth. She had to transfer in HK to another flight which was 4 hours. Yikes!
Pictured here is the hospitality desk that is located right before customs. If you are coming to HK, I recommend that you stop here as they are extremely helpful and want to make sure that everyone is greeted properly. The accreditation area is right behind them in a white tent. We had 2 very nice girls who personally escorted us to the accred. area, took us through the express lane in customs, made sure a shuttle bus was waiting for us and escorted us to the bus. Now that is service! The bus still had that new car smell and we were the only customers.
Our friendly helpers from the hospitality desk
The bus took us straight to the Regal Riverside Hotel where I am staying. Mike also stayed the first night as the Olympic Village hotel was not opening until the next day. The Regal is where media is staying, plus there will be some athletes and grooms as well. I think we were just about the first to arrive as we didn’t see anyone, although Graeme Thom (Eventing’s chef) and Debbie (Eventing’s stable manager) arrived on the 23rd and are also staying at the Regal.
Time to check in, freshen up, then meet with Graeme to get the lowdown since he and Debbie had already been to the venue. Next it was grabbing something to eat and heading back to the airport to meet 3 of the Eventing grooms who were flying in ahead of the horses.
more helpers at the shuttle bus service!
first glimpse of Hong Kong
series of bridges from the airport which light up at night
highrises are the building of choice in HK where land is at a premium
Ashley Holzer & Pop Art
Wow, the media coverage is coming from all angles for members of the Canadian Equestrian Team!
Check out the article in the South China Morning Post on Olympic dressage team member Ashley Holzer and Pop Art.
Can’t tell you how nice it is to see something other than showjumping getting some mainstream media attention. Don’t get me wrong, any equestrian is better than no equestrian, but it’s sometimes hard for other disciplines to get out from Showjumping’s very large shadow.
The Ottawa Citizen newspaper has now run 2 articles on Eventing Olympic Team members Selena O’Hanlon and her horse Columbo. You can read the article here. It’s quite an interesting and ‘feel good underdog’ story about how the 14-year-old horse, after going through two leg surgeries, was meant to be sold as a low-level Event horse. Instead, Selena with help from her mom Morag (herself and accomplished rider), nursed the Swedish warmblood back to health and is now ready to tackle the biggest event in the sport: The Olympics.
Canada’s showjumping legend Ian Millar is certainly getting tons of press this past week. With the Canadian Olympic Committee making the announcement on who is Canada’s flagbearer at these Games, let’s hope it’s an omen! (read people’s comments about who the flagbearer should be by clicking here)
CBC’s Olympic tv program, Countdown to Beijing, this week featured quite a touching profile on Ian Millar. Ian talks about his participation in 8 previous Olymic Games (9 if you count the boycotted Games in 1980) as well as the loss of his biggest fan & supporter, his wife Lynn Millar.
You can see the video clip on CBC’s website at: www.cbc.ca/olympics/countdown
The Globe & Mail features an article profiling Captain Canada. Ian talks about his experience at past Olympic Games, and why he is still hungry for success after all these year.