The final test events for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games start today, the first time that d’Ornano Stadium in Caen has been transformed for horse events.
Dressage and jumping riders from 29 nations will be competing over the next four days, from June 23 to 26 in the final test events before the Games get under way in Normandy on 23 August.
The d’Ornano Stadium, home to Ligue 1 football club Malherbe Caen, and which has welcomed millions of fans over the years to high profile international football matches, will host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 three Olympic disciplines of jumping, dressage and eventing’s jumping phase, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games.
The Test Events, as with those held for eventing, endurance and driving last August, are simulations enabling the Normandy Organising Committee to finalise plans for the Games. The FEI’s National Federations will also be seeing d’Ornano Stadium in its equestrian configuration for the first time, allowing for vital feedback to the Organising Committee in the final countdown to the Games.
The 18-strong line-up of dressage athletes from 12 nations includes Great Britain’s Carl Hester, team gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Danish team bronze medallist at Beijing 2008 Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, and Christian Brühe, the Dressage trailblazer for Palestine, which will be one of 14 countries in Normandy competing for the first time at the FEI World Equestrian Games™.
A total of 50 jumping athletes from 24 nations will also compete in the d’Ornano Stadium thisweek. They include France’s Patrice Delaveau, currently sixth in the Longines Rankings, and Raena Leung, winner of last year’s FEI World Cup Jumping China league and Hong Kong’s first rider to qualify for the prestigious series final.
Morocco, debuting at the FEI World Equestrian Games debut this summer, will be represented by five athletes including Abdelkebir Ouaddar, who competed in his first Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Lyon in April. South Korea, also making its first appearance at this year’s Games, will be represented by Jae-Hong Park, team silver medallist at the 2006 Asian Games.
Fans will be able to attend a day of Jumping on 25 June for free, choosing between the morning (10.00 – 13.00) and afternoon (14.00 – 17.00) sessions. The invitation can be downloaded on the event website (special promotional code: EP2014) and collected at the venue. Fans attending will also have the opportunity to buy Games tickets with a special 20% discount on the day.
Organising Committee Sports Director Laurent Cellier explained that his strategy for the Test Events was coloured by the natural rhythm of the equestrian calendar. He said: “The events are being staged on week days to enable the champions to get in some riding between two major competitions in Europe. Most importantly, we were keen not to stage our events on dates overlapping historic competitions, like the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup in Rotterdam.”
FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said a record number of nations would take part in the Games this year, “with 14 competing for the first time at these Games, demonstrating the increased globalisation of equestrian sport and the popularity of this flagship event.
“We’re now just 62 days away from the start of the Games in Normandy, when we will have 15 days of absolutely top equestrian sport. We’re counting down the days to these incredible Games.”