Last week end (28/30 September) Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) hosted the second scheduled Test Event for next year's World Equestrian Games. After the International driving competition that was successfully run on the second week of September, WEG 2002 Organizing Committee staged an International Three Day Event (CCI**).
The competition had the aim of testing facilities and tuning the organizing team for next year, therefore it represented an ideal occasion for delegations from all over the world to arrive in South of Spain to familiarize with the competition venues where, in exactly one year time, the biggest ever equestrian event (seven world titles awarded in the same contest at the same time) will take place.
Eighteen riders in total (from Australia, France and Spain) competed in the CCI** which saw the final victory of Didier Dhennin, member of the French cavalry troup 'Cadre Noir', riding his eight year old mare Fine Fleur V Ene HN. In second place, also for France, Eddy Sans with Ecile, followed by the Australian combination Sam Griffith and In the Grove (who led after dressage). Fourth rank went to France as well. Jean Teulere, riding the ex-showjumper Espoir De La Mare Ecolit, was on familiar territory and kept his placing from the cross country phase. Best of the Spanish competitors was Coby Bolger who ended in sixth place. She has high hopes to see the Jerez Stadium at Chapin again next year because her horse Sergeant Pepper II is already qualified for the World Championship.
While the four-in-hand driving test two weeks ago suffered from very high temperatures and bone dry conditions, the eventers found the opposite. On cross-country day water bucketing down for hours, though, didn't affect the ground prepared by course designer Mike Tucker and his Spanish-british crew. "Everybody did a lot to keep the ground in shape during the competition and that was a good learning experience for everybody. It can't get worse next year than today", commented the course designer at the end of the day. Twelve months from now the newly sown gras will provide even more hold and organizers are confident that they have seen the worst.
Riders were surprised how well the ground stood although none came out without time penalties. International observers from several different nations were estatic to find how close the organizers came to a perfect setting at the military compound of Garrapilos (only 17 km. from Jerez) with the mountains and the church spire of the town of La Barca de la Florida, in the background. "It is wonderful. I like it very much", praised Mark Phillips. The Briton who is coaching the American team has been out before and said: "It is amazing what has been achieved so far."
Australian Coach Jim Dunn, representing the most successful eventing team of all times with three Olympic gold medals in a row, took the opportunity to finetune his preparations for next year. "We are here to test everything from a logistical point and adjust our plans accordingly."
Safety of the horses is a paramount issue in Eventing and the Test Event was the ideal occasion also to verify all safety measures which need to be taken for next year. Francisco Abad from Spain, member of WEG 2002 Veterinary Committee expressed all his satisfaction at the end of the day: "We had a perfect Test!". The competition at Jerez was also a welcome opportunity for the FEI- Veterinary Manager Frits Sluyters to gather 55 veterinarians, mostly from Spain, to discuss veterinary standards and FEI-regulations. A main focus was the term "fitness to compete" which is often interpreted differently. The forum used video tapes from the first and the last inspection to compare changes in movement, if any. "Very informative", commented Julian Peters, Chief Veterinarian for the Dutch driving team. He took part as an international guest, together with Greek Samantha Fyrippis, observing with the next Olympic Games at Athens 2004 in mind.
A sunny day concluded the event and many people from Jerez came to Chapin (the main competition venue) to watch the final phase of the event. A nice atmosphere, smiling faces and the awarness that preparations for WEG 2002 are well in shape accompanied the final day where riders, horses, officials, foreign delegates were cheered by FINO, WEG's official mascot, who took the opportunity to make his joyful appearance. A perfect ambassador for WEG, FINO is expected to travel a lot in the next few months to 'personally' invite the whole world to Jerez in September 2002 .
"These Test Events
gave us the precious opportunity to put in practice what we have been
planning for the past years - commented Jerez 2002 General Manager Antonio
Rufino Ortiz - We still have to work hard, but we got positive inputs
from the two tests. I am pleased on the way the team worked, and am confident
that in the next twelve months we will be able to carry on in the build
up of our fascinating project".