Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational gets under way

July 4, 2011 by  

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

After all the protests and arguments for and against, a horse was majestically ridden out into the temporary arena in Greenwich Park at 9 o'clock this morning.

A test rider had been out on the purpose built platform already but it was River of Joy, ridden by Germany's Michael Jung, that enters the history books as the first horse to compete at this test event in advance of next year's Summer Olympics.

The stands, basking in the morning sun, were significantly less than half full to witness the first display and its conclusion was met with a ripple of polite applause from the audience. Each of the highly technical dressage routines last about five minutes and are scored by judges in three stations around the arena.

Individual dressage will continue throughout the day. Tomorrow will see the horses out on the cross country course that has been built around the eastern side of the park and the Eventing Invitational will conclude with showjumping in the arena on Wednesday where the prizes will be given by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

Outside of the park, by the Queen Mary Gate, a band of peaceful protesters from NOGOE continued to make their opposition to the use of Greenwich Park known, unveiling their own new mascots, Gridlock and Stumpy.


Following the first day of competition, Britain's Piggy French leads the rankings with Australian Clayton Fredericks in second place and Germany's reigning World Champion Michael Jung lying third.

British rider William Fox-Pitt said of the day: “Wow, it has an Olympic feel already and this is just a test event. The [arena] surface is lovely with a bounce in it it’s so much kinder and more forgiving on the horses.”

Piggy French commented, “It’s got me hyped up. It’s surreal: all the same faces as if we were in a muddy field like last week, but you look to the right and there’s the City of London. I think it’s amazing; there’s a real buzz even though it’s a test event, and I hope it will bring more public interest and help people see what a fabulous sport this is.”

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational

Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational
NOGOE setting up their protest - picture taken around 8.10am

Video of Ireland's Jane Doherty riding The Only One.


14 Responses to “Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational gets under way”

  1. Robert Number 16 on July 4th, 2011 2:03 pm

    Great photos of todays events!!!

  2. Karin Tearle on July 4th, 2011 2:26 pm

    I think it unfortunate that I was unable to even get to the ticket ballot for this…I received no information for this but was told by the Communications team that it was in all the local papers etc. Unfortunately I do not always get to read these.

    I am a local resident and a local business owner. The setting up of the event has not been without inconvenience but I am in support of the events.

    The Olympic Communications Team was very unhelpful, very short.

    Karin Tearle

  3. Gill Crawford on July 4th, 2011 2:37 pm

    Nice pictures, Rob, but sorry to see that so few people seem to be there. Who’s got all the tickets? I applied through the Greenwich Council website, but never even heard that I was unsuccessful. If they want residents to support this, they’re going to have to try a bit harder.

  4. Indigo on July 4th, 2011 9:40 pm

    William Fox-Pitt … Piggy French

    Role models for the young. Not.

  5. Indigo on July 5th, 2011 8:25 am

    Rob, could I ask what the time-stamp on that photo of the NOGOE protest is – I imagine that you took it on your way into the Test Event – and it appears to have been taken as we were setting up: I can see Sue just starting to attach the banner to the railings.

    To be fair, I think you should caption this as: NOGOE setting up protest venue at 8.00am BST (or whatever the time-stamp is on your photo). I am sure that you want to be fair.

  6. Olympic Test Events Begin | Londonist on July 5th, 2011 12:00 pm

    […] Anyone spot that? We know it was a bank holiday, but still…) and the equestrian invitational started in Greenwich Park yesterday with a small protest from people who still think it’s all a terrible idea – […]

  7. Wolfe on July 5th, 2011 8:21 pm

    Re: time stamp
    I was in and out of the park all day and there were never more than 28 or so people at the most. Far fewer in the afternoon, in fact…

  8. Indigo on July 6th, 2011 9:51 am

    @Wolfe – so what – we were there for hours – people came for as long as they could. By the end of Monday afternoon, we had had 120-130 people participate in the afternoon session of the protest at some point.

  9. Pedro on July 6th, 2011 10:11 am

    Indigo is correct. I went past just after 9am and there were at least four or five more people there. There must have been over a dozen.

    It’s unfortunate that these silly people, and their obsessions about eco-terrorism and species extinction, do get all the attention. If there were someone lobbying for the locals, we might have had more of them watching the event – I know local school asked for tickets for the test event and were told there weren’t any. We can see now the stands are at best 20% full. It’s this aspect of the Olympics that is scandalous – that the organisers used local kids to market their application, then locked them out of the events.

  10. Beabarb on July 6th, 2011 12:26 pm

    I have tickets for Sunday, I got the phone call yesterday at around 2.00pm. picked the tickets up at 4.30pm. My son is looking forward to seeing the event as it is the nearest he will get to seeing a (non)olympic event!

  11. Steve on July 6th, 2011 2:05 pm

    What wonderful pics and sites…. we should actually make Greenwich Park and annual venue on the international Equestrian/Eventing calendar!!

    Proud to be a Greenwich-ite!:) Only a year to go till the big event! Can’t wait…

  12. Sue Gay on July 8th, 2011 1:41 pm

    What great pics, really enjoyed the cross country, peering through the wire fencing but as I didn’t get any tickets in the council draw it was the best I could do and it worked. 72 horses will be there on Saturday I think as part of the Pentathlon.
    Couldn’t the park have put up a program of the events over the week?
    Loads of kids got to see it, but only one class from a school. Halstow took one class but not one of the three my grandchildren are in, but we’ve been to see the jumps and they can see it all going up. A big screen on the Heath would be great for the real thing next year.

    Wonderful venue and looking forward to next year!

  13. Rob Powell on July 8th, 2011 7:51 pm

    “William Fox-Pitt … Piggy French
    Role models for the young. Not.”

    After beating competitors from around the world, Piggy French, according to the NOGOE website (, went down to the Queen Mary Gate and met with demonstrators, posed for photos and gave them a signed Team GB cap.

    Seems like an exceptionally good role model to me.

  14. Indigo on July 11th, 2011 5:50 pm

    I happen to think that Ms French asked for our placard in order to give it to her father to jump on and then put on the garden bonfire. Ms French offered to pay for it but we refused and asked her if she would give us her Team GB cap instead.

    You know what I am referring to about role models, Rob: ie as an equestrian not as a good egg.