Legends, athletes, stars of stage and screen and "The Greatest" of them all, global sporting and humanitarian icon Muhammad Ali, contributed to the spectacular opening of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ at the Horse Park in Kentucky, USA tonight.
And completing the celebration was the key ingredient to the thrills and excitement we can expect to see over the next two weeks - the horse.
A cast of almost 1,500 people, and a vast array of equine talent, combined to provide a programme that paid tribute to the Games arrival on American soil with scenes from the prairie, Broadway, the Wild West and the Deep South. The show journeyed through the history of man and horse and explored defining moments in US history and culture, beginning with the heritage of Native Americans and a Prayer for All Nations by Lakota chiefs and concluded with a Mardi Gras extravaganza of epic proportions.
The athletes who are competing in the eight equestrian disciplines paraded before the packed stands filled with enthusiastic crowds who enjoyed the two and a half hours in which 40 acts took the stage. Kentucky singer Wynonna Judd, opera stars Denyce Raves, Cynthia Lawrence and Ronan Tynan, Sara Lee Guthrie, Cherryholmes and Jazz at Lincoln Centre were some of the other notable performers.
Following in the tradition of World Equestrian Games’ opening ceremonies, a musical score was specially composed for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. Dr Everett McCorvey, executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies, reviewed submissions from composers around the world and selected Londoner Jamie Burton's “World Equestrian Games Fanfare” as the signature piece which was presented for the first time at the opening ceremony with a 100-piece orchestra from the University of Kentucky.
As she declared the officially open, FEI President, HRH Princess Haya, said "For the first time, the World Equestrian Games have crossed an ocean to bring the best of our sport to another continent. We are witnessing a new beginning that will help spread the magic of horse sport and inspire young equestrian athletes to aim for the top.”
Alltech- Founded by Dr Pearse Lyons, Alltech is a global animal health and nutrition company with 30 years’ experience in developing natural products that are scientifically proven to enhance animal health and performance. With more than 2300 employees in 120 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle-East, Africa and Asia. For further information, visit www.alltech.com.
The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and includes 133 National Federations.
Equestrian sport has been on the Olympic programme since 1912 with three disciplines - Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. It is one of the very few sports in which men and women compete on equal terms. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes - horse and rider. The FEI has relentlessly concerned itself with the welfare of the horse, which is paramount and must never be subordinated to competitive or commercial influences. For further information, visit www.fei.org
Photo caption: FEI President Princess Haya officially declared the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ open in Lexington, Kentucky tonight. Photo: FEI/Dirk Caremans.