27 June - Torrential rain during yesterday afternoon’s final Jumping test event before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 get underway on 23 August gave organisers and athletes the best possible opportunity to see how the footing in both the competition and training arenas at d’Ornano Stadium in Caen (FRA) would perform in tough conditions.

French star Patrice Delaveau, who won yesterday’s feature class with Ornella Mail HDC and jumped both before and after the downpour, was impressed with how well the arena surfaces performed. “The main arena was not so good for the first three or four riders after the rain, but then it was absolutely fine,” he said. “For me there was no difference between the first round and the jump-off, it was perfect.”

Irish rider Bertram Allen, who picked up a win, two seconds and a third in the four competitions, also felt that the weather conditions had not affected the footing. “The ground held up really well and horses weren’t slipping at all,” he said. “The results were consistent through the class.”

After three days of glorious sunshine for the Dressage and the first day of Jumping, with extremely positive feedback from all the riders about the footing, the organisers welcomed the opportunity to test the arena surfaces under less optimal conditions.

“It was a real test today, with incredibly heavy rain,” Laurent Cellier, Sports Director at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 Organising Committee, said at the end of the four day test event. “It was actually a good thing to have the rain and we learned a lot about the management of the footing, which was very important. Now we know how to maintain the best quality footing for the horses and for the competition.

“At the end of today’s second competition we had a debriefing with the National Federations and got their feedback about the footing, stabling and general organisation of the event. The feedback is really good, and the Organising Committee will be working from now until the Games to upgrade some details and finalise preparations for riders, horses, spectators, media and all the participants at the big party in Caen.”

“The Jumping test event has been a great success,” FEI Jumping Director John Roche commented. “Both the infrastructure and the venue have been prepared to the highest standard and will create a wonderful setting for the World Equestrian Games. It was very encouraging to see so many spectators in the tribunes yesterday and it created a really super atmosphere. It was a clear indication of the popularity of the sport in the region, demonstrating that Normandy is an equine heartland.

“We’re very much looking forward to seeing the specially designed fences that will be used at the Games. The designs look fantastic and have a real Normandy flavour, but the fences won’t be unveiled until Games time. There’s no doubt that everybody is doing their absolute best to make sure that the Games will be the very best.”

Tim Hadaway, Director of the FEI’s Games and Championships Department, has been working closely with the Organising Committee for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 since his appointment just over a year ago.

“This has been an incredibly useful, productive and positive week and a lot has been learnt,” he said. “Yes there’s work to do, but we’ve all seen that the venue here in d’Ornano is in very good shape. Now it’s time to keep our heads down and put those finishing touches to the preparations, so that we can deliver what I believe will be one of the best ever FEI World Equestrian Games.”

Obviously also Frédéric Morand, the Organising Committee’s Manager of the Jumping discipline, is  pleased as he underlined in the interview below:

What did you want to test out during these Jumping test events?


We wanted to test the lorry parking, to make sure the riders had a good understanding of how it worked. Afterwards, we wanted to test the stables. They seem to be working very well. We’ve had only positive feedback on our installation choices and how the stables are being run. We also wanted to test out the surfaces. We were very confident, and everything seems to be just perfect. After the dressage events, we were already feeling very good. It’s a very different discipline to jumping, but the riders were quite satisfied. And finally, we needed to see how the teams were working, how they were interacting with Pedro, the time it took for the horses to get here, to set up, take everything down. There are still some details to smooth out, but we are very happy with things, even if I always like to stay on my guard.


What have the riders been saying?


For those who don’t know D’Ornano Stadium, it’s really magical. It’s an amazing football stadium, but I think it’s going to be an amazing equestrian arena. The riders have said that they love it. Plus, we’ve had the weather on our side, excellent classes, a fantastic arena, superb organisation, a good number of spectators for the sport, but it’s also pleasant here. We’re in the city, but when you’re at the stables or warm-up rings, you’re still a little in the country. We’ve truly had excellent feedback from the riders. They’ve been really surprised when they come through the tunnel and out onto the arena. It’s really incredible.


Where are you with the obstacles?


For the tests, the course manager doesn’t test the obstacles. We’ll have them for the Games. The course manager tests the placement to know where he can build the different obstacles. It’s important for him because he’s already worked on his course layouts. He needs to know where he can put the obstacles based on what he has planned. For the test events, we’re trying out a few things, but we won’t put everything out. We won’t be showing the obstacles or the decor that we’ll use for the Games. We don’t want to reveal our full hand, because if we do the Games before the actual Games, there won't be any surprises left.
source: fei.org/www.normandy2014.com

Photo Caption: Torrential rain during this afternoon’s final Jumping test event before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 get underway on 23 August, gave organisers and athletes the best possible opportunity to see how the footing in both the competition and training arenas at d’Ornano Stadium in Caen (FRA) would perform in tough conditions. (FEI/PSV J. Morel)