My postings are all over the place these days, which is a testament to how busy the days are and how quickly the time flies by. Tina and I have lost all concept of time, and the world that exists outside of our Greenwich bubble. Instead of Thursday, it is Dressage Grand Prix day. And wow…talk about crowds! I’ll post some pics later when I get a chance, but I couldn’t believe how packed the stands are. I’ve read some stories on the BBC website about some of the venues having empty seats, but that sure isn’t true for Greenwich Park.
Our Jumpers had a media conference today at the venue, which by all accounts went well. Tina proved her prowess in the Assistant Team Leader position by managing to get to COC Outfitting first thing when they opened at 8am, and getting a jacket & shirt for Reserve Jumper athlete Yann Candele whose team kit unfortunately is waaaaay too big for him. Tina was able to hustle back to the venue just in time to hand over the exchanges for Yann. Way to go Tina!
EC President (and former Team Leader) Mike Gallagher arrived yesterday, so I took him to the Accreditation office at the venue today to pick up his LOCOG dog tags, and take him on a bit of a tour of the venue. Managed to get him into the stables too! I think I just might be starting to get the hang of this Team Leader gig :-). It was nice for Mike to be able to say Hi to the athletes and support staff, and to also see first-hand the incredible job the organizers have done with the facilities at Greenwich Park.
I then took Mike to the Queen’s House, where his accreditation gives him access to the Olympic Family Lounge which I hear is very swish-swish and has excellent catering. This is where our Owners can go as well, and can walk out onto the balcony for one of the best views in the house. Sadly, my accred does not give me access….so I had to sadly wave goodbye. Instead, I made my way for the first time to the International Teams Tent which is hosted by the British Equestrian Federation. I say “tent”, but really it is in side the Royal Maritime Museum and quite impressive! They have really done an excellent job with ample seating, catering and large flatscreen tvs around the room showing live coverage. I hope the athletes get a chance to check it out and enjoy it.
I’m writing this as the first block of 7 riders are underway in the main arena. Jacqueline Brooks and D’Niro were the first ones to kick things off for Canada. They looked right at home in the main arena, and Jacquie looked ecstatic after her ride. They finished on a score of 68.70%.
At one point I saw the USEF’s Team Leader Jim Wolf walk in with a very large foam “Dressage is #1” finger (a tip of the hat to the now famous “Colbert Report” episode that aired the other month. Apparently one of the US fans was wearing this in the stands however the pointing finger was so big that those seated behind the fan couldn’t see! Too funny…..I think the USEF could be onto a real fundraiser idea as I’m sure the many thousands of fans here at Greenwich Park would love to have their picture taken wearing this.
Next on deck was David Marcus and Capital. Unfortunately the weather chose not to cooperate and as the pair entered the arena the heavens opened up. The ITT tent where I was sitting has a glass roof, and the noise was deafening because the rain was coming down that hard. In fact, it was hard to make out David & Capital on the TV screens! The pair looked as elegant as always, and were putting in quite a solid test until Capital became scared along the short wall. I’m not entirely sure what spooked him….but I suspect it might have been all of the water pouring off the tarps that protect the tv cameras which are situated relatively close to the ring at the corners.
David remained unbelievably posied and in control as he attempted to reassure Capital – but unfortunately they were forced to leave the ring. HUGE kudos go to David for remaining so poised and gracious in the mixed zone. The sign of a true Olympic athlete. Later that day, Tina and I bought flowers for both David and Capital’s owner, Deborah Kinzinger, to leave in their hotel rooms. In speaking with David today, he spoke of how much the outpouring of affection has touched his heart….so those who have been leaving messages for that athletes on their Facebook walls, Twitter, email – it really does mean a lot to them!!
After David’s ride, Mike Tina and I went to visit Hawley Bennett-Awad and her husband Gamal Awad. Hawley is feeling better, and actually walking now (albeit it slowly). In keeping with her true tough & fierce spirit, Hawley is actually doing an interview today with CBC to update everyone on her condition and reassure her fans that both she and Ginny are well. And imagine our surprise with Hawley, along with her husband Gamal, came down to meet us!! She is one tough cookie…and already looking to the future and planning competitions for later this year.
Speaking of which, Eventing Team Manager Fleur Tipton sent me an email to let me know all of the Canadian Eventing horses made it back to Newark, New Jersey in fine form and are now finishing out their quarantine before heading back to home sweet home. I can’t say enough what an honour and privilege it was to work with our Eventing Team who are just amazingly professional, organized, friendly and focused on their jobs. They really are an inspiration and make me incredibly proud to be Canadian.
I’ll be posting another blog tonight….Ashley Holzer & Breaking Dawn had a super ride today!!!