Saturday, August 16, 2008

11a Dressage Grand Prix Special

Dressage GP Special

Well gang hang on for a great ride tonight…I’ve got it all : from lunch on HK island, to GPS, to superstars at the bar, to superstars on my bus, to superstars hugging and hand shaking the announcer, to big screen appearance #4, to acing the announcing for the GPS, to Tsing Tao in my room/office here at 2am, after a great day. Any questions? Good, you are dismissed, and remember to re read chapter 4 - test on Tuesday…

We started the day with a trip to the Soho district of HK island, the original downtown, where we were taken to a restaurant in the middle of the town, a hole in the wall, by one of the French officials of the Games. He had been here before, and with his French equivalent of the Michelin guide, he took us back to this place. Snake was on the menu – no kidding, and when Jean ordered the first appetizer, we all looked at it, fried something, and we all hesitated as he would not tell us what it was. Turns out it did look like fried snake bits, but it was some kind of pork with a great seasoned batter! Anyway, the food was delicious and the 8 of us (including the chief jumper judge, also from France, two Aussies from the eventing officials squad, the press liason, a Swedish judge, and the US announcer – what a mix, and what a lunch. We had 6 courses, and everything was terrific…the food over here is really good, lots of seafood, and many courses are served at a sitting, small portions, but lots of great food. I have only had one bad meal here, and it was in the canteen at the show. Everywhere else we have had lunch (since we work at night) has been wonderful and tasty!! Took the boat across the HK harbor, after having a beer at the Mandarin Hotel (oh yeah, ritzy as it gets..you see we have all these Brits and Aussies trying to relive the late 1800’s – when the Empire still ruled!) and then went on back to get ready for the Grand Prix Special.

Competition was super tonight…Steffen pulled out one of his best rides, on any of the horses I have seen him on. Rates up there with his WEG ride in 2006 on Floriano…I mean Ravel was so balanced, calm, relaxed, and so expressive. Steffen has taken this horse to a new level in just 3 months…he is going to be a medalist very soon..no kidding. This horse is the next Salinero..no holes barred. Courtney, also put in one of the top rides of her life……Myth got a little bit spooked just before she entered, but she did one of the best things I have ever seen her do…she stopped, relaxed, and talked to him and then got him back on form. True horsemanship and communication….he soon settled and she got a terrific score of 70.8.. Steffan with his solid 71.8 was guaranteed a berth in the freestyle,,,and Courtney too. They rode back to back too…very unique…..and the two Germans, Heike Kemmer and Isabel Worth did too!..The end of the class was so loaded with superstars and great dressage it was almost too much…….and the British rider, Emmas Hindle, on Lancet ( a horse previously ridden for the Dutch team, I believe) stood her ground and racked up a solid 70.44 to make the top 15 final. Of course Anky and Isabell battled it out for the top 2 spots, with Isabell and Satchmo coming out the best, despite a very strange mishap in one of the passage portions….Satchmo resisted, backed up , almost out of the ring, it was that close, just in front of the judges, and Isabell had to do everything she could to get him back on course. 1’s and 2’s on that movement. She got him back and finished strongly….75.2, even with that big error. Anky and Salinero did a fine test for a 74.96… but I need to go out on a big limb here…..having seen Salinero in video and at the World Cup before, this horse is so full of power, expression, explosiveness, and beauty, yes, but he never seems relaxed or happy…..). Anky has to ride the ….. out of him to get what she needs. But Isabell and Satchmo…it’s is so different..they are full of the same qualities, but the horse is so much more relaxed , and about his business. Salinero, a two time gold medalist , is wonderful….but next to Satchmo, it seems he is so strong and aggressive. So now, to my first sidebar: after each night we go to the small café , just outside the stable entrance, where a couple of Chinese caterers have a small kiosk. We meet there each midnight hour (after work) for a beer and some conversation. Well, tonight, we met up with Steffan, Courtney, Ashley (who made the cut), her husband, and some other officials, grooms, etc. Well, Anky comes out and when the guys locked the door to the café, she was going crazy. Not for a drink, mind you, but for a candybar. She took out of her purse, a pair of small Dutch clogs (keychain size) and waved them at the door, whereupon, they guy opened the door, and she then paid for her candybar. These guys are collecting as many pins, logos, and whatever, from as many teams as they can. So watching Anky weedle her way into the café was real treat! Then she comes over to talk to us, and when one of our British friends asks here if she is planning to go to England in December for their big dressage show at Olympia..she said” I was not planning to go to that show again, but because he (Salinero) was so full of himself tonight, I may MAKE him do that show!! Just to hear her say that was a real treat….and it verified my observations…he was more than a handful ….but he is still in the hunt! The elite gold medalist as a real down to earth and funny lady….many will never see that side of this champion…..it was fun.

Then I got on the bus to go home, and was told we had to wait another 20 minutes before departure..(pain in the …, at 1:30am). So who then gets on the bus with her coach, but the leader and gold medalist from Germany, Isabell Worth. Yes, folks, it don’t get any better than this…..she , however, was not looking for any chocolate bars….just a quicker ride home, like the rest of us. Anyway, enough of this name dropping…OK!

Team jumping tomorrow – 1st round (and me doing another Jumbotron course walk – apparently they all love it). Dressage is off til Tuesday night for the freestyles..jumping for the next 2 nights.

The pics are Ashely Holtzer and Pop Art for Canada, and downtown Hong Kong….

See ya, Brian

3 Comments:

At Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 4:48:00 PM EDT , Blogger fran said...

Before i read your blog tonight I was thinking what a tough time you are having with all the night work and no chance to get out and about, I was really beginning to feel a bit sorry for you..........wrong.....you are obviously having a ball!!!
It is so great that after all that excitement and celeb sightings you have the energy to write for us lesser mortals.....we are ofcourse deeply grateful...you have truly made the Equestrian Olympics come to life for us thankyou thankyou thankyou.
I suppose no event will ever be the same now will it but I do recall we had chinese food at the Saturday Night party at PB.
Keep up the great work.....
Big Hug
Fran

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 5:41:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brian...we've enjoyed reading your blog and can't believe how much you are fitting into each day. Two thoughts: 1) Your blog will be a treasure to you and your family as a diary of this fabulous experience, won't it? 2) You're going to need two weeks' sleep when you get home. Now will you tell those guys on the TV to stop talking so we can hear your voice better? Love ya, Judy & Stan

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 6:29:00 PM EDT , Blogger murph 1 said...

Hi Brian,
Have just found your blog through Equine.com and found it very interesting.
Kelly and I worked on cross-country at the Atlanta Games but China and Hong Kong are just too far!
Keep up the blogs, an 'insider's' view is very interesting!
Annette and Kelly Murphy

 

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