Saturday, May 30, 2009

2010 WEG: Planning WEG endurance course an endurance event in itself

TMCNet.com - Full Article

The Lexington Herald-Leader, Ky., Tom Eblen column

May 30, 2009 (The Lexington Herald-Leader - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Jamie Link may be the chief executive officer of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, but when it comes to riding horses, he's a novice.

So when he and other top Games officials recently saddled up to see part of the 100-mile endurance course being mapped out across farms surrounding the Kentucky Horse Park, Link was given a horse with two names.

One name was Rocket, which Link used frequently and emphatically as he maneuvered well alongside his more-experienced colleagues.

Others called his golden mount by a name indicating a more gentle nature, Buttercup.

This was a slow, four-mile ride over beautiful Mt. Brilliant Farm. But everyone was thinking about what it would be like for more than 80 competitors who will gallop over it in a day-long race against the clock on Sept. 26, 2010.

Endurance racing will be one of the most high-profile of the Games' eight disciplines, for a couple of reasons.

The race is scheduled for the second of the 16 days of competition and will be featured prominently, along with a recap of opening ceremonies, on NBC Sports' first hour-long telecast of the Games.

That show has the potential to be a spectacular video postcard for Central Kentucky's horse country -- not to mention the glamour of the Games.

But because the endurance race is so demanding, any televised deaths or serious injuries to horses have the potential to damage the reputation of equine sports in the eyes of a skeptical public.

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