Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WEG: Going for Gold Blog - Full Article

By Jacqueline Duke
21 Sep 2010

(Originally published in the Sept 25, 2010 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions at the bottom of the column.)

The largest, deepest pool of equine talent ever assembled has arrived in Kentucky. And, no, it’s not the contenders for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Some 800 horses from all corners of the globe are converging on the Kentucky Horse Park for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, making Lexington inarguably the Equine Capital of the World from Sept. 25-Oct. 10.

During the 16-day run, horse-and-rider combinations from 58 nations will participate in eight internationally recognized disciplines: dressage, three-day eventing, show jumping, reining, driving, vaulting, endurance, and paraequestrian. For equine sport aficionados, it’s like having the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, World Cup soccer finals, and PGA Championship back to back in one location.

The United States made the successful bid four years ago to host the 2010 event, the first World Games ever staged on American soil. Securing, organizing, and producing the Games has been no easy task, particularly in the wake of a worldwide recession. Ticket sales have fallen well below the projected 600,000-plus, causing organizers to abandon free shuttle service and other amenities and to charge high prices for parking. The high cost of attending the Games has drawn much criticism. Other worries abound, from potential traffic nightmares to the impression downtown Lexington will make on worldly visitors.

Whatever trepidations might exist about its staging, the 2010 Games promise an unsurpassed level of competition in a venue whose scope and horse-friendly features far exceed those ever envisioned by Horse Park founders. The Games also will let the Bluegrass show off its finest product—the Thoroughbred—on course, at breeding farms, and, toward the end of the Games, at the Keeneland fall race meet...

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