This week’s News Notes is brought to you by Back on Track, providing a natural roadway to health.
Coming up in competition this weekend is the COL Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships in Virginia. The big news of the week, of course, is the sale of Moorlands Totilas. With the ending of the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games all eyes are now turning toward the Olympics in London and there is much news coming out this week about that event. Proposed ticket prices for events have been released. The FEI has released the list of initial teams qualified. And, the British have started a campaign to promote horseback riding in London. On the down side of the news, British press reported this week that “swamp fever” has been detected in horses in Britain for the first time in 30 years.
The big dressage event of the weekend will be taking place in Lexington, Virginia and that event is the 28th Annual COL Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships, presented by Trilogy and the VADA Fall Competition (www.virginiadressage.com). And, a bit northward in Revere, Pennsylvania this weekend will be Dressage at the Bucks County Horse Park (www.buckscountyhorsepark.org). Bryantsville, Kentucky will play host this weekend to the Meadow Lake Fall Classic (www.meadowlakeec.com). And, down in Florida, the winter show season is beginning to gear up with the Wellington Classic Dressage Autumn Challenge of Champions at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center (www.wellingtonclassicdressage.com).
Everyone probably already knows the biggest news of the past week, but we’ll repeat it anyway. After Edward Gal denied at the Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games that Moorlands Totilas had been sold, the truth emerged this week. The champion 10-year-old stallion was sold to Germany’s Paul Schockemohle by current owner Cees Visser of Moorlands Stables. Visser has said the interest in Totilas was just too high – which most certainly included offering bids – to pass on the opportunity to sell him. Totilas was bred by Jan and Anna Schuil who turned over the ride to Gal when the horse was five. The horse was then bought by Moorlands Stable.
If you thought ticket prices were high at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, start preparing for sticker shock at the 2012 Olympics in London. The Guardian newspaper in England ran a poll this week asking readers what Olympic sporting events they’d be willing to see at the proposed high ticket prices. The results aren’t yet in, but the newspaper did give prices for some of the events. The dressage final will cost about $436 in today’s dollars. But even worse, the swimming and artistic gymnastics finals will run around $700 for a ticket. The bargain sports are things like tennis and beach volleyball at about $31. One could argue that ticket pricing for some sports gives a hint why these sports have a hard time attracting wide public attention.
And speaking of Olympics, it was reported in numerous media publications this week that the equestrian world lost one of its top Olympians. Walter Staley, who resented the U.S. at three Olympic Games, died in Missouri. Staley, 77, was part of the bronze-medal winning U.S. equestrian team in 1952 in Helsinki, Finland. He also participated in the 1956 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden and in 1960 in Rome, Italy. He was captain of the 1960 team. Staley also won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1955.
Continuing on the Olympic theme, it was reported this week – even by USA Today so perhaps the mainstream media still has equestrian coverage on its mind after WEG – that the FEI released the initial list of teams that qualified for the 2012 London Olympics based on their performance at the WEG. The U.S. qualified in both dressage and eventing. The U.S. show jumping team had a rather uneventful finish at the WEG, coming in 10th and has not yet qualified for the 2012 Olympics. In addition to the U.S., the Netherlands and Germany qualified for dressage. As host country, Britain gets a team in all the equestrian events. Five teams – Canada, New Zealand, the U.S., Germany and Belgium – qualified for eventing. The teams qualified in show jumping are Germany, France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada and Australia.
Other Olympic-related news from Britain this week comes from the Louth Leader, which reported on a campaign to “get people in London off the sofa and on to horseback.” The campaign is called the Hoof it to Health drive and was developed by Hoof, a British Equestrian Federation (BEF) organization. The campaign aims to promote riding as a healthy sport for people of all ages and Hoof is teamed up with Riding for the Disabled Association and Vauxhall City Farm. Another goal of the campaign is to make riding more accessible throughout London by helping riding schools develop their facilities and offering residents more chances to ride. You can read more here.
Also from Europe this week, BBC News reported that “swamp fever,” otherwise known as Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) has been found in four horses imported to Britain. Although the disease is found on the continent, it hasn’t been in Britain for more than 30 years. The discovery is leading to a bit of concern among British equestrians, especially with the Olympics heading there in two years. But, officials say that thus far, the disease does not seem to have spread to horses other than the four detected through import.