Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Typhoon Threatens Equestrian Prepartions in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

We were in the eye of the storm here in Hong Kong.

Things quietened down for a while, but the weather started to get quite bad again and it is expected to get a lot worse - and that is a worry for the horses and riders here.

At the moment there has not been too much damage. Some flags, hoardings and barriers have been blown down around the Olympic venue at Sha Tin and there are some very wet looking microphones.

Other than that, everything is in one piece.

Under Hong Kong law, if a typhoon reaches category 8, as this one now has, all employees have to go home, so the shops are shut and public transport is not running.

Luckily there was a short lull in the weather for the Olympic transport to start running again so we managed to get to the Olympic venue at the Hong Kong racecourse.

Forecasters are predicting the typhoon to last for two days which could have a big impact on the riders and horses here.

I have spoken to all of the British grooms and they are not at all worried at the moment.

Unlike grooms with other teams, the Brits are all staying here with the horses so are on hand to look after them during the storm.

For other teams stuck away from their horses, it means letting someone else do that.

So the British team is very happy now - but the worry is that that might change if this lasts for two days, as forecast.

The main problem will be the fact everyone has to stay indoors.

Like all of us, horses like a bit of outside space and if they cannot be exercised properly they could get restless and agitated.

There is an indoor arena - but with more than 100 horses here access would have to be tightly controlled.

There is also going to be much less time to practice in competition conditions. In the show jumping for instance, each nation is given a slot so they can get used to jumping under lights. But the practice has been cancelled today.

I imagine the organisers will be able to cope with all this and squeeze in enough practice for all the teams to get their fair share once the typhoon passes.

But it is a worry at this late stage, with the equestrian competition starting on Saturday.

Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes