Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First of Olympic horses arrive in Hong Kong

....Horses that will attend the Hong Kong Olympic equestrian event from the Netherlands’ team are transferred to another vehicle for transportation to the Olympic Equestrian Venue in ShaTin district, in Hong Kong on Saturday, July 26. Officials said the first group of some 200 horses taking part in next month’s Olympic equestrian events has arrived in the territory.(AP)

HONG KONG -- The first batch of more than 200 horses taking part in next month's Olympic equestrian
events arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday to begin their acclimatization to the city's tropical heat, organizers said.
Upon their arrival, the horses were immediately transported to the stables at the equestrian venues after undergoing preliminary quarantine tests at the Hong Kong International Airport.

"All traveled very well and the disembarkation process went very smoothly," veterinary surgeon Christopher Riggs told reporters after inspecting the arriving horses.

"They are remarkably well."

The first 32 horses arriving Saturday came from Belgium, Denmark, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and the United States. A total of 229 horses is expected to arrive by the end of this month for the events.

All horses will be quarantined and acclimatize for 10 days before they start pre-Olympic training.

Riggs added veterinary teams would closely monitor the horses, including daily body temperature checks, to ensure they remain healthy.

The Olympic equestrian events, to be held between Aug. 9 and 21, were moved from Beijing to the former British colony Hong Kong because of a rash of equine diseases and substandard quarantine procedures on the mainland.

Hong Kong has much experience handling foreign horses due to its prominent horse racing scene, but the city's sweltering summer heat and humidity remain a major concern.

"Whether the weather is hot, humid or stormy, we'll have contingency plans to handle it," said the Equestrian Company chief executive Lam Woon Kwong.

Lam added there will be special flights to take equestrian athletes to attend the opening ceremony in Beijing on Aug. 8.