Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational gets under way
July 4, 2011 by Rob Powell
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.”
Video of Ireland's Jane Doherty riding The Only One.